Frequently Asked Questions About Domestic Violence
Q: Should I contact the Victim when charged with domestic violence?
A: No, you shouldn’t contact the victim in any way shape or form. Contact includes any type of communication made to a victim either through yourself or a third party. Unless and until the Court specifically grants permission to resume contact with the victim, you are not to contact the victim under any circumstance. If you initiate contact with the victim, it can result in additional criminal charges.
Q: When can I return to home after being charged with domestic violence?
A: In many domestic violence cases, the Court will make an order disallowing you to return home where the victim also lives there. This obviously creates disruption and inconvenience to the personal lives of the Defendant and Defendant’s family. Often times, it’s not even what the victim wants. The Court does this in the abundance of caution. The last thing a judge wants is for a Defendant to return home and commit another criminal act.
Q: Is there a way get permission to return home?
A: Yes. A defendant, or defense attorney, can file a motion to modify release conditions. In misdemeanor domestic violence cases, particularly, it’s common for a Court to modify release conditions to allow a Defendant to return home and resume contact with the family. Whether or not the Court grants such a motion is highly dependent on the underlying facts, victim input, and prosecutor input. Typically, if the victim wants the Defendant back home, and the underlying allegations are relatively minor, the Court will allow a Defendant to return home, even when the prosecutor objects.
Q: Can I own or possess guns with a domestic violence conviction?
A: No. Under federal law, if you have a domestic violence conviction, you can no longer own, carry, or possess a firearm. A domestic violence conviction is the only misdemeanor, in Arizona, that can result in the loss of gun rights.
Q: Can I restore my gun rights after a domestic violence conviction?
A: Yes, you can file a Motion to Set Aside a domestic violence conviction after completing the terms of your sentence. It cannot be filed until the defendant successfully completes all the terms and conditions of the sentence, including probation, fines, and restitution. If the Judge grants the motion to set aside, federal law would no longer prohibit the ownership of a firearm.
Q: Can I complete a Domestic Violence Diversion Program to avoid a conviction?
A: Also referred to as a deferred entry of judgment, a domestic violence diversion is often a desirable outcome because it avoids a domestic violence conviction and the resulting collateral consequences. In some cases, however, it may become apparent that the State cannot prove the charges, in which case, it might be wiser to reject diversion and fight the charges.
Domestic violence diversion is only offered in certain courts. It typically involves paying a fine and completing about 26 weeks of anger management and domestic violence classes. There’s a fee for each class, so it can get expensive. Upon successful completion of the program, your case would be dismissed.
The diversion program is in the complete discretion of the prosecutor. Your attorney would need to convince the prosecutor that you’re a deserving and qualified candidate. Many factors weigh into the prosecutor’s decision on whether to offer diversion.
Q: Can the Victim Drop Domestic Violence Charges in Arizona?
A: People are often surprised to learn that the State will continue prosecuting even when the victim wants a case dropped. This comes from the misconception that the victim is the one who presses charges. In actuality, under Arizona law, it’s the state that presses charges.
Victims, however, do have a constitutional right to give their input on a case. Usually prosecutors will give weight to the victim’s input on a domestic violence case. However, it’s not entirely up to the victim on whether to dismiss charges, offer diversion, or come to a plea agreement. Those decisions are in the discretion of the prosecutor. In addition, the judge would have to approve any dismissal or plea agreement.