Domestic Violence

Domestic violence includes physical violence (such as hitting, slapping, pushing or kicking) and/or threats of physical violence and/or excessively controlling behavior. The use of violence, threats and intimidation against your children is also domestic violence. The legal definition of domestic violence used by the family court may be more limited, so you should consult with an attorney about the evidence necessary to prove domestic violence.

In Arizona, there is no specific crime of "domestic violence." Instead, any of several crimes can be domestic violence, if the perpetrator and the victim have a certain relationship:

  • Spouses or former spouses
  • Parents of a child in common
  • One party is pregnant by the other party
  • Parties live together now or in the past
  • Parties are related by blood or marriage (parent, in-law, brother, sister, grandparent)
  • Parties have a current or previous romantic or sexual relationship

Examples of domestic violence crimes are: assault, threatening and intimidating, endangerment, custodial interference, unlawful imprisonment, kidnapping, criminal trespass, criminal damage, disorderly conduct and crimes against children.

What is an Order of Protection?

A victim of domestic violence can request an Order of Protection, a court order to prohibit the perpetrator from contacting the victim. Orders of Protection can also order the perpetrator to stay away from the victim’s home or work, order that the victim have exclusive use of the home, or order a perpetrator to surrender firearms. A victim may be granted an Order of Protection if she or he can show the court that the other person has committed an act of domestic violence within the past year or is likely to commit an act of domestic violence in the future. Violation of an Order of Protection is a crime.

Typical grounds for getting an Order of Protection include: hitting, punching, slapping, kicking, grabbing, holding down, preventing you from leaving, preventing you from calling for help, breaking objects, punching holes in walls, threats to harm or kill, or credible threats to take the children out of the country, etc., so you’ll never see them again.

For more information, see the booklet, Things You Should Know About Protective Orders. Also, the Arizona Order of Protection/Injunction Against Harassment Flowchart explains the protective order process.

Will CLS help me with an Order of Protection?

CLS typically only assists with Orders of Protection when a hearing has been ordered on a set date for the Order of Protection or when there is an ongoing family court case. Also, most often CLS assists by giving legal advice, rather than providing an attorney to represent you in court. Many courts have advocates or staff available to assist with questions about Orders of Protection. Also, the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence has a legal advocacy hotline, where advocates can answer questions about a variety of legal issues.

How do I tell the court about domestic violence?

  • Include specific dates or estimated dates that an incident happened.
  • Describe what the other person did to you (or your child, etc.) - be specific and say how you were affected. What did the person do? Were you injured? How? Did the person break your phone, punch holes in the wall, frighten you, etc.? Are you frightened of the person now?
  • Don't spend time describing why  an incident happened. For example, the most important part of the story is not that the other person was angry you got home late – but that the person punched you in the cheek with a closed fist, which caused bruises, etc.
  • Describe events in an order that will make sense to the person listening. Most times this means describing events in a chronological order, with what happened first. Write an outline for yourself, so you know you won’t forget anything.

What can happen if I go into hiding because I feel like my children or I am in danger?

There are consequences if you avoid or do not receive service in your case. If you are considering relocating, especially moving out of state, you should speak to an attorney before hand. For more information and to contact the Clerk of the Court in the County you live in, see Consequences of Avoiding Court Service.