Phoenix Domestic Violence Lawyer
It is not uncommon that there is some level of domestic violence in a marriage or other domestic relationship. As addressed in more detail below, the definition of “domestic violence” is not limited to just physical force, but also threats of physical force, intimidation, certain forms of harassment and other actions. If you are a victim of domestic violence, the Phoenix domestic violence attorneys at Bishop, Del Vecchio & Beeks Law Office, P.C. will be happy to discuss your options with you regarding obtaining an Order of Protection, Injunction Against Harassment or other potential alternatives. Contact one of our offices to schedule an appointment with a Phoenix family law attorney to learn about this and other family law issues.
Summary of Contents
- How to hire a domestic violence attorney
- Summary of protective orders in Arizona
- Injunctions Against Workplace Harassment
- What is an order of protection?
- Where do you get an order or protection?
- What do I need to rove to obtain an order of protection?
- What if the court is closed?
- Do I need an attorney to obtain or defend against an order of protection?
- Can children be included in an order of protection?
- How do I get an order of protection modified or dismissed?
- Can the plaintiff voluntarily dismiss the order of protection?
- Can I get an order of protection against the other party if they obtained one against me?
- Does an order of protection guarantee my safety?
- Does my order of protection apply in different states?
- If the court rules against me, may I appeal the decision?
Contact The Phoenix Domestic Violence Attorneys at Bishop, Del Vecchio & Beeks Law Office Today
Bishop, Del Vecchio & Beeks Law Office, P.C. attorneys will be happy to discuss your options with you regarding obtaining an Order of Protection, Injunction Against Harassment or other potential alternatives.
“Domestic Violence” is broadly defined by Arizona statutes. One does not necessarily have to prove physical violence to obtain an Order of Protection.
Some forms of “domestic violence” are obvious, i.e. striking another person. Other forms of domestic violence may not involve physical violence, but may involve verbal threats, harassment, stalking and other actions. The Arizona Revised Statutes provide that domestic violence includes (but is not limited to) the following:
- Dangerous crimes against children
- Reckless endangerment
- Threatening or intimidating a person
- Threatening to cause injury to a person or serious damage to property
- Assault (intentional or reckless)
- Intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of injury
- Knowingly touching another person with intent to injure, insult, or to provoke
- Custodial interference without lawful right to keep a child from the other party (exceptions may apply)
- Knowingly restraining a person from leaving (unlawful imprisonment)
- Criminal trespass (breaking in or refusing to leave another’s property)
- Intentionally damaging property
- Disorderly conduct
- Recklessly displaying a weapon
- Use of a telephone or other communication to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend (may include obscene language)
- Anonymous telephone calls
- Stalking or following a person with no legitimate purpose
- Surveillance of another person for no legitimate purpose
- Makes false reports to a law enforcement, social service agency or possibly other sources
- Emotional abuse to a vulnerable adult or minor
These descriptions of “domestic violence” are abbreviated and for informational purposes only. Some acts are obviously considered domestic violence. Other acts may require additional statutory proof (such as intent). It is advisable to consult with an order of protection lawyer prior to proceeding to a contested evidentiary hearing regarding an Order of Protection or other types of protective order.
Contact our family law attorneys in Phoenix today to discuss your options.
Bishop, Del Vecchio & Beeks Law Office, P.C. provides representation regarding all forms of “Protective Orders” and “Restraining Orders”. The terms “Protective Orders” and “Restraining Orders” are general terms, which include the more specific types of orders, described herein.
The Phoenix Orders of Protection Lawyers at Bishop, Del Vecchio & Beeks Law Office, P.C. represent persons who desire to obtain a Court order as a result of domestic violence.
Bishop, Del Vecchio & Beeks Law Office, P.C. also defends persons who have had false or exaggerated claims made against them to defeat or “quash” an Order of Protection, or in order to have such order modified where the orders are unreasonable. Sometimes an Order of Protection includes the children, which can impact parenting time.
Sometimes parties try to represent themselves during an Order of Protection hearing. The problem with this is that you generally only get one bite at the apple. Thus, if the court upholds the Order of Protection there is not much an attorney can do after the fact. An attorney also may want to have have the case transferred to a higher court (i.e., from justice court to the Superior Court if there is also a divorce proceeding). Again, it is always smart to at least consult with an attorney prior to an Order of Protection hearing before the Court.
The information set forth on this website is not intended to cover all aspects of protective orders but is designed to provide valuable information one should consider when obtaining or defending against a protective order. You may also obtain additional valuable information regarding protective orders by visiting the Supreme Court of Arizona website and the WomensLaw.Org website.
Injunctions Against Workplace Harassment
Injunctions against workplace harassment are less common than the other described protective orders. Generally, a regular injunction against harassment will suffice. However, in some instances, an employer may desire to keep a person away from the place of employment altogether. It is up to the employer to request this type of injunction.
Injunctions Against Harassment generally address the same issues as Orders of Protection. The Court remedies (i.e. non-contact orders etc.) are similar to those discussed in the preceding Orders of Protection sections.
Injunctions Against Harassment are available where the parties are not married, are not blood relatives, have not resided together or do not fall within another relationship category covered by Orders Of Protection. Common examples include harassment by neighbors, co-workers, former friends and the like. Similar to Orders of Protection, an Injunction Against Harassment may be filed at a municipal court, Justice Court, or Superior Court. The procedures involved with obtaining such an order, proceeding to a hearing, and attempting to dismiss or modify such orders are similar to Orders of Protection with some variances.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. WHAT IS AN ORDER OF PROTECTION?
An Order of Protection is a Court order that precludes the defendant from engaging in certain acts which may affect your safety or security. Such person may be precluded from contacting you altogether. Or, if you do not wish to preclude all contact, a person may be limited to only contacting you in writing, through your attorney, or by other selected mode of communication. It is common that an Order of Protection against the other parent may include the ability to communicate regarding parenting issues including dropping off and picking up the children. An Order of Protection may apply to specific locations such as where you reside, work, attend school, etc. An Order of Protection may grant the victim of domestic violence exclusive use and possession of the parties’ common residence, and the other party may be precluded from going to such residence altogether pending further Court order. The offending party may be ordered to do other things by the Court to help ensure the victim’s safety including surrendering his or her firearms and other weapons and may be ordered to complete a Court approved domestic violence program.
Orders of Protection are the most common type of restraining order in family law cases for the reason that they apply where parties are married, were previously married, resided together, have a child together, have had an intimate relationship, are related by blood, are pregnant by the other party, or have another type of relationship defined by statute. Orders of Protection are governed by Arizona Revised Statutes Sections 13-3602 et. seq. and the Arizona Rules of Protective Order Procedure.
An Order of Protection is a civil order (i.e. it is not a criminal proceeding). However, if the other party violates an Order of Protection, he or she is subject to criminal prosecution.
2. WHERE DO I OBTAIN AN ORDER OF PROTECTION?
With certain exceptions, a person can request an Order of Protection at any municipal court, Justice Court or Superior Court location. The forms to obtain an Order of Protection are available at each of the described courts. However, if the parties are subject to a pending family law case (divorce, legal separation, custody proceeding etc.), the Order Of Protection must be filed with the the Arizona Superior Court.
You will generally be provided a hearing before the Court on the same day that you file your request for an Order of Protection. The first hearing will generally involve just you and the judge (unless you bring witnesses). During the first hearing, the other party does not have an opportunity to present evidence, and will generally not even know you are obtaining the order, unless and until he or she later requests a hearing after the initial Order of Protection is served upon him/her.
Once you receive your Order of Protection from the Court you will be given instructions on processing service of the Order of Protection on the other party through the Sheriff’s office.
3. WHAT DO I NEED TO PROVE TO OBTAIN AN ORDER OF PROTECTION?
A Petition for Order of Protection is generally filed by a party who has been or may be subjected to domestic violence, or by a parent, legal guardian or custodian of a minor who has been or may be subjected to domestic violence. It is important to note that “domestic violence” does not mean that a person has to be subjected to physical violence or that a person has to prove he or she was injured.
The Court needs to only have “reasonable cause to believe” that a person has engaged in domestic violence during the last year, or may engage in domestic violence, in order to issue an Order of Protection. If an evidentiary hearing is requested by the other party after an Order of Protection is issued, a preponderance of the evidence standard applies (i.e. the Court must find it is more likely than not that the events happened as alleged). Thus, a person should not necessarily be reluctant to seek an Order of Protection just because no one else witnessed the events. A person’s testimony by itself may be enough for the Court.
It is recommended that you be specific in your Petition for Order of Protection. A Court will not allow you to bring up additional matters during your testimony if they were not addressed in your written petition. There is generally not enough room on the forms provided to set forth all relevant information if you have experienced numerous acts of domestic violence. Thus, you may want to consider writing a separate “attachment” document prior to going to Court and attaching such document to your petition. Generally the Court only wants to know about domestic violence matters that have happened in the last year (365 days), but you are not precluded from including additional events on the petition if you believe they should be addressed.
4. WHAT IF THE COURT IS CLOSED?
If you are in imminent danger, the Court has procedures to provide Emergency Orders of Protection until the Court is open and you can obtain a permanent Order of Protection. You will generally need to obtain such Emergency Order of Protection through a law enforcement agency.
5. DO I NEED AN ATTORNEY TO OBTAIN OR DEFEND AGAINST AN ORDER OF PROTECTION?
You are not required to retain a lawyer to obtain an Order of Protection, or to defend yourself against one.
When initially obtaining an Order of Protection, the hearing only involves you and the Judge (unless you bring witnesses with you). The other party is not present. Thus, the need for an attorney is less at this stage. However, if the defendant requests a hearing, the considerations for at least consulting with a skilled family lawyer / divorce lawyer increase.
If the Order of Protection is against you, and if you desire to have the Order of Protection modified or dismissed, it is advisable to at least consult with an attorney. Although an Order of Protection is not a criminal matter, the repercussions for even minor violations of the order can be significant and may be prosecuted as a criminal matter. Moreover, employers and others may conduct public records searches regarding whether you presently have or have previously had an order of protection against you. In the modern world of technology and accessibility of information, challenging the Order of Protection may be very important to you and your future. As noted above, you generally only get one bite at the apple (i.e., if you represent yourself and lose you do not get another hearing). So, be smart and at least consult with a qualified attorney before requesting a hearing on the order of protection.
6. CAN CHILDREN BE INCLUDED IN AN ORDER OF PROTECTION?
On some occasions, a party includes one or more children in the Order Of Protection. However, such an order is improper unless the Court has reasonable cause to believe that either:
- Physical harm has resulted or may result to the child, or
- The alleged acts of domestic violence involved the child.
Similar to other acts of domestic violence, mere threats are enough to obtain an Order of Protection. For example, if a parent threatens to hurt the children this should be enough for the Court to include the children on the Order of Protection.
An Order of Protection which affects a person’s parenting time is still valid and will control over the parenting time order pending further order of the issuing court or the Family Court.
7. HOW DO I GET AN ORDER OF PROTECTION MODIFIED OR DISMISSED?
It is generally not too difficult for a party to obtain an Order of Protection against another party for the reason that the Court has only heard one party’s version of facts at the time the order is issued. For purposes of this section, the alleged victim is referred to as the plaintiff, and the alleged wrongdoer is referred to as the defendant.
In order to get an Order of Protection modified or dismissed, the defendant must first file a Request for Hearing. Such hearings are generally scheduled within five to ten days. It is in the Court’s ultimate discretion whether to uphold the order after the hearing or to modify or dismiss the order.
The following are some areas that are often addressed during the hearing by (or on behalf of) a defendant in order to modify or dismiss an Order of Protection:
- The allegations are false or exaggerated.
- There is no objective evidence of the alleged acts other than the plaintiff’s testimony.
- The parties subsequently engaged in romantic acts (in order to show that the plaintiff was not afraid of the defendant).
- The plaintiff continued to contact the defendant despite the Order of Protection.
- The plaintiff never called the police.
- The plaintiff took a long time to obtain the Order of Protection (suggesting that the person was not afraid of the other person).
- The Order of Protection was filed around the same time as the filing for divorce or another legal proceeding, thus suggesting that the plaintiff obtained the Order of Protection for strategy reasons.
- The plaintiff is a dishonest person and has engaged in dishonest acts (including not telling the truth in obtaining the Order of Protection).
- The plaintiff did not seek medical attention.
- If children are included in the Order of Protection, establishing that the defendant has never harmed his or her children.
- Both parties engaged in the altercation at issue, thus the defendant was justified in his or her actions (Note: This may lead to the dismissal of an Order Of Protection, or may give cause for both parties having their own individual Orders Of Protection against the other party).
If another party obtained an Order of Protection against you and you request a hearing and represent yourself without an attorney you may not get another chance to challenge the Order of Protection. Thus, it is important to at least consult with a qualified attorney before going to such hearing. In addition, an attorney may suggest that you have the case transferred to the Superior Court if there is a divorce or other pending family law case.
There are some circumstances that an attorney may advise you not to challenge the Order of Protection so that the divorce / family court can later modify the order around parenting time etc.
8. CAN THE PLAINTIFF VOLUNTARILY DISMISS THE ORDER OF PROTECTION?
A plaintiff may voluntarily request that the Court dismiss or modify an Order of Protection he or she has obtained against another person. The plaintiff will need to go back to the Court that issued such order to make such request in person. The decision whether to modify or dismiss the Order of Protection is ultimately in the Court’s final discretion.
9. CAN I GET AN ORDER OF PROTECTION AGAINST THE OTHER PARTY IF THEY OBTAINED ONE AGAINST ME?
If the other party engaged in acts of domestic violence (or if the person “may” engage in such acts), you may request an Order Of Protection against the other party even if the other party has already obtained one against you.
In order to obtain your own Order of Protection, you will need to fill out and file your own independent Petition for Order to Protection. The evidentiary hearings on each of the parties’ respective Orders of Protection may be consolidated by the Court or may result in separate hearings.
10. DOES AN ORDER OF PROTECTION GUARANTEE MY SAFETY?
Although a violation of an Order of Protection may result in criminal proceedings filed against an offender, the media regularly report domestic violence incidents despite such orders. If you feel that the other person may violate the Order of Protection (or if he or she has violated such order), you should call the police and alert them. You should consider providing a copy of your Order of Protection to your employer, your apartment manager, your children’s school and other places you commonly frequent. You should also keep a copy of the Order Of Protection with you at all times. You should take whatever additional lawful measures possible to protect yourself and your loved ones. The State Of Arizona provides shelters and other services for victims of domestic violence.
The domestic violence that led to you obtaining an Order of Protection may also constitute a crime. Criminal enforcement mechanisms may be more effective than merely obtaining an Order of Protection. Thus, in addition to obtaining an Order of Protection, you should consider contacting the police and asking that charges be filed with regard to any domestic violence or violations of an Order of Protection.
11. DOES MY ORDER OF PROTECTION APPLY IN DIFFERENT STATES?
All States within the United States are required to recognize a valid Order of Protection. If you relocate to or reside in a different state (or even if visiting for an extended period), you should contact and provide a copy of your Order of Protection to the law enforcement agency there, and make sure you fill out any forms required by the law enforcement agency.
12. IF THE COURT RULES AGAINST ME, MAY I APPEAL THE DECISION?
Justice and Municipal Court orders may be appealed to the Superior Court. Superior Court orders may be appealed to the Arizona Court Of Appeals. There are strict timelines that apply to such appeals. Generally, the higher courts addressing such appeals limit their review to whether the hearing was appropriately conducted and not whether somebody was telling the truth.