The idea behind the COVID stay-at-home orders seemed reasonable enough: you’re safer at home than you are in public. At least, that would be the hope. While you might have a lower chance of contracting the virus at home, more people than ever, especially in Arizona, are finding themselves the victim of something much more sinister: domestic violence. Domestic violence calls are up 115% from this time last year, and domestic violence related deaths are up 180%. Do you know what to do if your “safer at home” becomes unsafe?
For starters, what constitutes domestic violence? Any of the following acts can constitute a chargeable offense: sexual assault, harassment, emotional or physical abuse, verbal threats or intimidation, preventing use of a telephone or preventing escape during an emergency, and/or secret video or recording. Obviously, all of these are crimes when committed elsewhere, so their occurrence in your own home is no different. However, Arizona does not qualify “domestic violence” as a crime by itself.
What does this mean for you? Essentially, for a crime to be considered domestic violence in Arizona, it must first be a crime. Second, the crime must be perpetrated by someone in your own place of residence. This is where things can get tricky, because we often define “domestic” as someone we’re in a relationship with, but that is not the case. As long as the person who committed the crime lives with you -whether they’re a spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, extended family member, or even a roommate- then an additional domestic violence charge will follow.
On the other side, what should you do if you’re falsely accused of domestic violence? This is a lot more common than you might think! People know how damaging a domestic violence charge can be, and they think they know how hard they can be to defend against. False domestic violence cases can be scary, but there are a number of ways to protect you and your name against them. Having the right attorney on your side helps!
If you find yourself on either side of a domestic violence situation, document everything you can as soon as possible. The more you can document about the situation, the better, and concrete documentation -texts, emails, pictures, etc,- are always better. Next, contact an attorney. At Palestini Law, we’re well versed in domestic violence cases, and we’re here to help! You should always be safer at home, and we’re here to see to that.