Protection against domestic violence
An order of protection may be issued by a court to prevent a person from committing an act of domestic violence. To obtain an order of protection, a person must file a verified petition with a magistrate, justice of the peace, or superior court judge. Any court in Arizona may issue or enforce an order of protection. If an action for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, or annulment is pending between the parties, the petition for order of protection should be filed in the Family Court.
The petition must contain certain information about the party who is filing it (the plaintiff), as well as the party against whom the order is sought (the defendant). It must also include a specific statement, including dates, of the domestic violence alleged.
A court will issue an order of protection if it determines that there is reasonable cause to believe that the defendant may commit an act of domestic violence or that he has committed an act of domestic violence within the past year (or within a longer period if good cause exists to consider a longer period). If the court denies the plaintiff’s request, it may schedule a further hearing within 10 days, with notice to the defendant.
If a court issues an order of protection, it may:
- prohibit the defendant from committing domestic violence
- grant one party the use and exclusive possession of the parties’ residence
- prevent the defendant from contacting the plaintiff (or other designated persons) and from coming near the residence, place of employment or school of the plaintiff, or other designated or persons
- prohibit the defendant from possessing or purchasing a firearm, and require the surrender of existing firearms to local law enforcement
- require the defendant to complete a domestic violence offender treatment program
- grant other relief that is necessary to protect the victim; and/or
- grant the plaintiff the exclusive care, custody and control of any animal owned by the parties, and order the defendant to stay away from the animal.
A party against whom an order of protection has been entered is entitled to one hearing on written request. The hearing will generally be held within 10 days from the date requested. If exclusive use of the home is awarded to the plaintiff, the hearing must be held within five days from the date requested. After the hearing, the court may change, terminate or continue the order of protection in effect.
Emergency orders of protection are available 24 hours a day throughout the state of Arizona. Superior court judges and commissioners, justices of the peace, and municipal court judges are immediately available to law enforcement officers through the use of cell phones and beepers. An emergency order will be issued whenever someone’s safety is endangered, regardless of the time of day or night. An emergency order of protection expires at the close of the next business day after issuance, unless otherwise continued by the court.
An order of protection is an official court order. A person who disobeys the order may be arrested and prosecuted for the crime of interfering with judicial proceedings, as well as any other crime which he may have committed in disobeying the order.
A copy of the petition and the order of protection must be served on the defendant within one year from the date the order is signed. If the order is not served within one year, it expires. An order of protection is effective on the defendant the moment it is served on him. It expires one year from the date of service. On request of the plaintiff, the court will forward the order of protection to the proper law enforcement agency for service on the defendant. A fee is not charged for filing the petition, or for service of process.
The above article is an excerpt from Arizona Laws 101: A Handbook for Non-Lawyers, 2nd Edition (Fenestra Books, 2012), by Donald A. Loose, republished with the author’s permission.
Disclaimer: Laws change constantly. Specific legal advice should be obtained regarding any legal matter. The information contained on this website does not constitute legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is created.
Donald A. Loose is an Arizona attorney, and the author of Arizona Laws 101: A Handbook for Non-Lawyers, and Estate Planning in Arizona: What You Need to Know. Mr. Loose is a regular guest on radio shows featuring local newsmaker interviews. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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