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What Is the Difference Between Domestic Violence and Abuse?

Posted on April 27, 2020 in Domestic Violence

Domestic disputes can escalate into actions that meet the definition of crimes under Arizona’s criminal statutes. Someone involved in a domestic spat could ultimately commit domestic violence or abuse and face criminal charges. In Arizona, state law charges both types as the same crime: domestic violence. Domestic violence is a serious crime in Arizona with matching penalties and consequences. Although used interchangeably in Arizona, domestic violence and abuse may be separate infractions in other states. Recognizing the legal differences between these two charges could be important as someone involved in a case.

What Is Domestic Violence?

Many different actions, behaviors and types of misconduct could constitute the crime of domestic violence in Arizona. The state’s definition of this crime is broad. What might fulfill the definition of domestic abuse or battery in other states will fall under domestic violence in Arizona, including physical assault and sexual abuse crimes. According to Arizona Revised Statute 13-3601, domestic violence is any dangerous crime against a child or one of many different criminal acts against specified parties.

  • Other members of the household
  • A former household member
  • A current or former spouse
  • Someone with whom the defendant has a child (born or unborn)
  • A relative by blood, marriage or court order
  • A child in the same household who is related to a former spouse or to someone who resides in the same household as the defendant
  • A person with whom the defendant has or used to have a romantic or sexual relationship

The courts will identify a romantic or sexual relationship based on the type of relationship between the plaintiff and defendant, the relationship’s length, the frequency of their interactions, and the amount of time that has passed since the relationship terminated, if applicable. Crimes that could constitute domestic violence in Arizona include criminal damage, animal cruelty, trespassing, disorderly conduct, harassment, kidnapping, stalking, threatening, intimidating, rape and homicide. It could also include crimes more commonly thought of as domestic abuse, such as assault and battery.

What Is Domestic Abuse?

Arizona does not have a separate definition for the crime of domestic abuse in its criminal statutes. Instead, it classifies all the offenses listed in Statute 13-3601 against someone in the defendant’s household or family as the crime of domestic violence. In other states, however, criminal statutes often have separate definitions and penalties for domestic violence vs. domestic abuse. In these states, domestic violence most often refers to nonphysical violence or incidents that do not cause bodily injuries. Domestic abuse, on the other hand, would more likely meet the state’s definitions of assault or battery.

  • Physical assault
  • Aggravated assault
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual assault of a minor
  • Battery
  • Negligent homicide
  • Manslaughter
  • Murder

In states that differentiate between the two crimes on a legal level, domestic abuse might refer to the intentional infliction of a physical injury, pain, impairment or illness on the victim, while domestic violence might refer to actions that do not cause physical injuries, such as threats or intimidation. In Arizona, however, the courts use the two terms interchangeably. They charge all domestic crimes as domestic violence, with uniform sentencing protocols for convicted defendants.

What to Do If You Are Facing Domestic Violence or Abuse Charges

The crime of domestic violence can include physical, verbal, emotional and financial abuse in Arizona. A plaintiff may or may not have physical injuries and may still have a domestic violence claim. If someone has accused you of domestic violence or abuse in Arizona, seek guidance from a Phoenix domestic violence attorney right away. You could be facing penalties such as weeks to years in jail or prison, expensive fines, mandatory domestic violence treatment programs and probation.

Prompt legal representation can prevent you from doing something that could incriminate you, such as saying the wrong thing to your arresting police officers. A lawyer may also be able to help you avoid the most severe penalties for the crime of domestic violence in Arizona. Your lawyer can work with you from the beginning to construct a strong defense strategy and reduce the consequences you might face for this crime.

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