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Arizona Domestic Violence Laws

Definition of Domestic Violence in Arizona

The state of Arizona defines domestic violence as almost any criminal act of abuse committed by one "family or household member" against another. Several Arizona laws can be considered domestic violence offenses if there is a qualifying victim. These crimes are not all violent in nature.

Domestic violence abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, economic control and neglect. Examples of crimes associated with domestic abuse include:

  • Assault and Battery;
  • Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon;
  • Criminal Trespass;
  • Disorderly Conduct;
  • Threatening;
  • Kidnapping; and
  • Witness Intimidation.

Aggravated Domestic Violence Charges

If you are found guilty of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge for a third time in a seven-year period you can be charged with a felony and sentenced to prison time. Aggravated domestic violence is considered a Class 5 felony and carries up to 2 ½ years in prison for a first conviction.

Can a Victim Drop the Charges?

No, domestic abuse crimes are aggressively prosecuted and even if the victim tells the court and prosecutor they do not wish to "press charges", the case will not be dismissed.

If charges are filed, only the district attorney has the authority to drop them. A judge must approve the prosecutor's request to dismiss a case. The victim is a witness for the state and has no authority to drop charges. In many cases, the State will prosecute a case even if the victim refuses to testify.

The prosecutor may choose not to file charges. In that event, the victim will be notified of that decision.

What Protections Are Available in Addition to Criminal Prosecution?

There are several remedies and legal protections available for victims of domestic violence in Arizona. These may include:

  • Address Confidentiality Program (ACP): Victims can get a legal substitute address (usually a post office box) to use in place of their physical address; this address can be used whenever an address is required by public agencies. First class mail sent to the substitute address is forwarded to the victim's actual address.
  • Protective Orders: Victims of domestic violence can apply for protection from abuse orders.
  • Civil lawsuit: The victim may file a civil lawsuit to recover losses and expenses such as medical bills or pain and suffering damages.
  • Custody/child or spousal support orders: These may be modified to prevent any further incidence of violence between spouses, children, or other persons

The following table highlights the main provisions of Arizona's domestic violence laws. See How to Stop Domestic Violence and Filing a Domestic Violence Lawsuit for more information.

Code Sections A.R.S. 13-3601 et. seq.
What Protections are Available?

Civil and criminal

Definition of Domestic Violence/Abuse

Domestic Violence means any one of the following acts between household or family members (the list is long)

  • physical assault, such as hitting or kicking;
  • threatening words or conduct;
  • intimidation;
  • harassment by phone and in person;
  • stalking;
  • photographing, videotaping, recording, or secretly watching you without your consent:
    while you are in a private place (i.e., bathroom, bedroom) doing a private act (i.e., urinating, having sexual intercourse); or while your breasts, buttocks, or genitals are exposed in a way that they are not normally exposed in public;
  • endangerment (placing you at risk of immediate death or physical injury);
  • unlawful imprisonment;
  • kidnapping;
  • criminal trespass;
  • criminal damage;
  • disobeying a court order;
  • custodial interference;
  • negligent homicide, manslaughter and murder;
    neglect, abandonment or cruel mistreatment of an animal;
  • preventing or interfering with the use of a telephone in an emergency;
  • abuse to a vulnerable adult or child;
  • certain crimes against children; and/ordisorderly conduct.
Family/Household Member Definition
  • current or former spouses
  • persons who reside or resided in the same household
  • persons who have a child together
  • the defendant or the victim is pregnant by the other party
  • the victim is related to the defendant or defendant’s spouse by blood or court order as a parent,
  • grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister, or by marriage as a parent-in-law, grandparent-in-law, stepparent, step-grandparent, stepchild, step-grandchild, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law
  • the victim is a child who resides or resided in the same household as the defendant and is related by blood to a former spouse of the defendant or to a person who has resided in the same household as the defendant
  • the defendant and victim are or were in a romantic or sexual relationship.
Protective Orders

Arizona makes available two types of restraining or protection orders: 1) Emergency Orders of Protection; and 2) Permanent Orders of Protection.


Misdemeanor or felony. Depends on the nature of the underlying crime and previous criminal history of the defendant. Domestic violence counseling is mandatory and possibly victim restitution.

Civil Lawsuits

In Arizona, you may file in small claims court on your own for anything that is $2,500 or less. If you want to sue for more, you will have to file in regular justice court and may need the help of a lawyer. You may talk to the clerk of court in your county for help in filing a law suit in small claims court.

Where to Find Help in Arizona

Get Legal Help With Your Domestic Violence Charges

Because Arizona domestic laws can sometimes get complicated, it important to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney if you have questions about your specific situation. Domestic violence cases are often challenging and even though you may think you can't win, you should consider learning about your options. Start now by meeting with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Arizona.

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