Domestic Violence Frequently Asked Questions

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Do you have questions on Domestic Violence prosecution and what happens during the process? 

On this page you will find the following information:

  • Information on what happens when a defendant is booked into jail.  
  • Special restrictions on defendants and rights of victims

Prosecution of Criminal Domestic Violence Charge

The process of criminal prosecution can raise many questions.  Below are some Q&A which may answer questions you may have:

How do criminal charges get filed against my abuser?

When police respond to a domestic violence 911 call, the police officers may determine that charges are appropriate and issue a charge at the scene or send the case to a detective for more investigation.  After investigation, the detective may submit the case to the prosecuting agency for review for criminal charges; misdemeanor crimes are sent to the City of Phoenix Prosecutor's Office and felonies are sent to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.) A prosecuting attorney will then review the case and decide whether criminal charges should be filed.

What if the case isn't charged?

You will receive a letter informing you that the case was not charged. You have the right to speak to a prosecutor about the reasons why the case was not charged. To do so, call 602-262-6461.

Can I drop the charges?

No. Since domestic violence is a crime, the State brings the charges, not you, and so we also decide whether a case proceeds or is later dismissed.  The Phoenix Prosecutor's Office has a very strict policy on Domestic Violence cases but we are always willing to listen to your position, so if you would like to discuss the charging and/or sentencing of the defendant, call 602-262-6461 and ask to speak with a prosecutor.

Can I appear at any of the defendant’s Court settings?

As the victim, you have the right to appear at any court setting the defendant has set if you wish.  You are only required to appear if you receive a subpoena.  You can contact your Victim Advocate if you want them to appear at the court setting with your or if you want to provide information, such as restitution information or a Victim Impact Statement.

Will I have to testify in front of my abuser at a trial?

If a trial is held, you will be required to appear and testify in open court. However, you can always have a Victim Advocate (link) with you.  

What help can the Victim Advocate give me on the day of trial?

Your advocate can meet you and take you to court.  The advocate can help you wait in a private area before your testimony so you don’t have to be around your abuser.  Your advocate can also provide security to and from your vehicle. You can also bring a friend or family member for emotional support. To request an advocate to accompany you to court, please call 602-261-8192 and ask to speak to the advocate assigned to your case.
Information About Defendants Who Are Booked Into Jail.

The defendant was booked into jail for a Domestic Violence offense. Now what happens?

Within 24 hours of being arrested and booked into jail, the defendant will appear in a special court within the jail to be arraigned by a judge on the charges.

Will the defendant be released from jail after being arraigned on the charges?

The judge will decide whether it is appropriate for the defendant to be released.  The judge will hear from the prosecutor, defense, and you, if you wish to be heard, before making this decision.  If the judge decides to release the defendant, the judge can impose certain conditions on the defendant in order to remain out of custody, such as requiring a bond (money) to be posted, forfeiting weapons, forbidding contact with you or other victims, or other conditions that must be followed while the case is ongoing.

Can I tell the judge anything at the jail court arraignment?  How can I do this?

As the victim, you have the right to be present and heard about the release conditions.  If you want to be heard by the judge on whether the defendant should be released or not, or any conditions you want to be imposed, you must contact the Victim Services Unit immediately at 602-261-8192 or, if it is after 5pm or on the weekend, contact the Jail directly at 602-876-8276.  
There are different ways to be heard: you can appear in person at the jail, write a Victim Impact Statement, or ask the Advocate to convey your position.  Your Victim Advocate can help you will these options.

Will I be notified if the Defendant is released?

If you would like to be notified if the defendant is released, call the Jail's Victim Notification Line at 602-876-8276; to find out the defendant's status, bond amount, or jail facility information, call 602-876-0322.
It is important to understand that the defendant may be released after arraignment. If you feel you may be in danger upon that person's release, we encourage you to convey that information to the jail court judge. Above all, you should take necessary steps to ensure your safety.
Information on Special Restrictions on Defendants and Rights of Victims

Is there any restriction on possessing weapons if a defendant is convicted of domestic violence?

Yes. A person convicted of a Domestic Violence offense is prohibited from owning a firearm or ammunition. It is a federal felony offense for a person convicted of a misdemeanor crime of Domestic Violence involving physical force or the threat of physical force to possess a firearm or ammunition. (18 USC § 922(g)(9))

Do I have special rights as a crime victim?

Yes.  As a victim of a crime in Arizona, you have special rights pursuant to the Victim Bill of Rights. You can invoke your rights on this website.  Please call 602-261-8192 or send Victim Services an e-mail with questions you might have regarding your rights.

Is there any way to get out of my lease if I have been the victim of a Domestic Violence offense?

Arizona’s domestic violence early termination law allows a victim of domestic violence to terminate a lease under certain circumstances.  Required is: 1) written notice requesting release with a mutually agreeable release date within 30 days. (Note: the domestic violence must have occurred within 30 days of the notice) and 2) a copy of a Protective Order or a police report (“departmental report”) documenting that the tenant was the victim of domestic violence.  See the domestic violence early termination law for details.