Domestic violence awareness includes you

By JUDGE GERALD A. WILLIAMS

NORTH VALLEY JUSTICE OF THE PEACE

Governor Doug Ducey proclaimed October as Domestic Violence Awareness month and directed that the Capitol Dome remain lit with purple every night through the month of October. However, this is a nationwide, if not worldwide focus.

 

Organizations as far away as the U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria Family Advocacy Program held events and distributed information, in that case for our troops in Germany.

 

Domestic violence, like DUI, cuts across every income level, race, age group and educational level. Arizona has a very broad definition of domestic violence. It includes misconduct that goes well beyond what some may typically view as being a type of violent behavior.

 

In Arizona, domestic violence has two basic elements. First, the two people involved in the events must either be family members or be in (or have been in) a romantic relationship. Second, there must be some type of specific criminal conduct (A.R.S. § 13-3601).

 

Offenses include endangerment, threatening or intimidating, assault, custodial interference, unlawful disclosure of nude pictures, trespassing, property damage, harassment by phone, secretly photographing, stalking and cruelty to animals.

 

At first, cruelty to animals may seem like and odd example of domestic violence. Prior to becoming a judge, I thought so too. However, you would be surprised how many people try to control their partner by harming or by threatening to harm a pet. I frequently issue orders of protection stating that a defendant cannot come near the plaintiff’s cat or dog.

 

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, then you should reach out to someone you trust and seek help. If immediate assistance is needed, you can contact the Shelter Line for Maricopa County at 480-890-3039. The organization UMOM can also provide temporary housing or other resources and they can be reached at 602- 275-7852.

 

Arizona’s judicial branch has a web page with information on domestic violence resources, safety plans and information on orders of protection. It can be located at

https://www.azcourts.gov/domesticviolencelaw/DomesticViolenceInformation.aspx

 

Some domestic violence cases can go from a misdemeanor to a murder in a single weekend. If someone is in an unsafe situation, they should seek safety immediately, but carefully. Get ahold of a safety plan and treat it like a checklist.

 

Judge Gerald Williams is the Justice of the Peace for the North Valley Justice Court. His column appears monthly in The Foothills Focus.