What To Do If You’re Arrested For Domestic Violence In Tucson
Getting arrested for domestic violence is no joke no matter where you are. The stakes are especially high in states like Arizona, where there is some misunderstanding about how the domestic violence criminal laws work, as well as what types of charges can be domestic violence-related.
When you’re arrested for a domestic violence-related crime, a lot of seemingly intuitive behavior can adversely affect you. In this blog post, I break down some of the most important things to remember and keep note of when you’re arrested, and what you should and shouldn’t do.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is defined primarily by the relationship of the victim and the defendant. For the most part, this may include close family members or household members, and can also extend to prior romantic or sexual relationships, or the victim being pregnant by, or having children with, the defendant.
Domestic violence, per Arizona law, is not a crime in and of itself; but rather, a domestic violence charge simply means that a victim of physical assault, disorderly conduct, sexual assault, child abuse, harassment, kidnapping, and other similar crimes, may be related to their assailant. The result of being convicted of a domestic violence-related offense can be up to six months in jail for a misdemeanor – though first-timers are usually not sentenced to jail time, but rather, are given optional fines, counseling, and probation.
Myths about domestic violence
Let’s get some misconceptions out of the way so that you’re not blindsided in the unfortunate case of an DV accusation:
Is an injury required for domestic violence charges to be applicable? NO.
A victim doesn’t need to be physically injured for it to be a domestic violence-related offense. It may be verbal abuse/disorderly conduct, trespassing, or it may be someone breaking something in the heat of an argument – pretty much any of the applicable crimes as long as there is a relationship between victim and defendant.
Can only women be domestic abuse victims? NO.
Men can certainly be domestic abuse victims too. And this isn’t just rhetoric – 1 in 4 men in the US have been victims of domestic violence, compared to 1 in 3 women.
Is domestic violence uncommon? NO.
In 2013, the National Domestic Violence Hotline received a grand total of 265,000 calls from domestic violence survivors, victims, and persons related to them. Between 1996 and that year, the NDVH took as many as 3 million calls. Couple that with the statistic above of a fourth of men and a third of women having been victimized, and it’s clear – domestic abuse isn’t rare by any stretch.
What NOT to do if you’re arrested
Take a deep breath, and calm down, because you’ll have to remember the do’s and don’ts of being arrested for this crime – and it’s very important to stop the “don’t’s” dead in their tracks.
Don’t talk to the police
You probably have heard this advice for any situation where you’re arrested, and it applies for domestic violence just as it does with any other type of crime. Don’t argue or resist arrest, don’t try to convince them that you’re innocent or that the situation has been resolved. You may only make things worse for yourself. Either the resisting the arrest will aggravate the situation, and aggravate your charges, or it may appear as though you’re admitting to the crime.
Don’t talk to the victim, whether at the moment of arrest or afterwards
Nothing you tell the victim is going to be helpful, and it may look like coercion if you say the wrong things. Remember that domestic violence is a crime, which means that it’s going to be the State of Arizona that prosecutes you, not whoever you’re accused of harming. Indeed, the victim can’t even drop any charges, since they aren’t the ones filing charges in the first place.
What to do if you’re arrested
Now that I’ve laid out all the misconceptions and things to avoid, this is what you should do:
Use your right to remain silent (called “the privilege against self-incrimination”).
The police will use all manner of tactics to get you to confess to the crime, and will use whatever you say against you – just as promised. Many times, upon arrest, they’ll already have it in their heads that you’re guilty of all charges. Stay silent to avoid saying the wrong things, or having your words taken out of context or as any admission of guilt.
Secure a lawyer immediately.
Get a criminal defense lawyer who specializes in domestic violence cases. The sooner you get that lawyer, the better. Human memory is fallible, and the all-important witness testimonies and details about the case will fade rapidly.
Write your narrative as soon as possible
With memory fading so quickly, you’ll need to document as much as you can that will help your case. Influences of substances, potential eyewitnesses, prior events – anything will be helpful. Just remember to submit these to your lawyer, and not to anyone else. And again – do not contact or harass the victim!
A domestic violence charge is difficult to get rid of once charged. The circumstances that led to it may be symptomatic of a negative environment that could be the breeding grounds for another incident. And it gets worse with every case – if you ever make it to a third DV offense, domestic violence may stop being a misdemeanor and it could be upgraded to a felony, which will subject you to prison time, and stay with you for life.
The key here is to prevent a charge from escalating into a conviction. You should take these important steps to prevent it from happening, and keep your head on straight while the process is ongoing. You must also be reminded of the myths I debunked, and avoid the “don’ts” that I specified. And of course – try to stay out of trouble in the first place!