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Know the Laws: Arizona

UPDATED August 5, 2015

Domestic Violence Orders of Protection

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A domestic violence order of protection is a civil order that provides protection from a family or household member.

Basic information

back to topWhat is the legal definition of domestic violence in Arizona?

This section defines domestic violence for the purposes of getting an order of protection.

Arizona law defines "domestic violence" as the occurrence of one or more of the following acts:

  • physical assault, such as hitting or kicking;
  • threatening words or conduct;
  • intimidation;
  • harassment by phone and in person;
  • stalking;
  • photographing, videotaping, recording, or secretly watching you without your consent:
    • while you are in a private place (i.e., bathroom, bedroom) doing a private act (i.e., urinating, having sexual intercourse); or
    • while your breasts, buttocks, or genitals are exposed in a way that they are not normally exposed in public;
  • the unlawful distribution of nude/sexual images of you/your child (Note: This was added to AZ law in July 2014 - see the full definition of the crime on our AZ Statutes page)
  • endangerment (placing you at risk of immediate death or physical injury);
  • unlawful imprisonment;
  • kidnapping;
  • criminal trespass;
  • criminal damage;
  • disobeying a court order;
  • custodial interference;
  • negligent homicide, manslaughter and murder;
  • neglect, abandonment or cruel mistreatment of an animal;
  • preventing or interfering with the use of a telephone in an emergency;
  • abuse to a vulnerable adult or child;
  • certain crimes against children; and/or
  • disorderly conduct, such as:
    • fighting
    • reckless display of a dangerous instrument
    • discharge of a deadly weapon and/or
    • abusive language.*

Note: For the act to be considered domestic violence, you must have a specific relationship with the abuser, which is explained in Who can get an order of protection?

To read the legal definitions of these crimes, you can go to the AZ Statutes page.
* A.R.S. § 13-3601(A) 

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back to topWhat types of protection orders are there? How long do they last?

A domestic violence order of protection, also called a "restraining order," is a civil court order from a judicial officer, such as a judge or magistrate.  To issue an order of protection, a judicial officer must find that domestic violence has occurred and that you have a specific relationship with the abuser.  For more information, see Who can get an order of protection?

There are two types of orders of protection:

  • Emergency Orders of Protection (EOP). Emergency orders of protection are designed to protect people in immediate and present danger of domestic violence. A judicial officer can grant an EOP orally or in writing. The EOP is valid only until the close of business on the day after it is issued.  You should file for a "permanent" order of protection from the court before the emergency order expires. To get an EOP, contact a law enforcement officer, who can help you get one.

    Counties with a population of 150,000 or more are required to have EOPs available after court hours and will issue them by phone. (As of 2012, these counties include Maricopa, Mohave, Pima, Pinal, Yavapai, and Yuma.*)  Counties with a population of 150,000 or less may issue EOPs by phone but they are not required to.**  However, in these counties, you can receive protection through a registered release order.  For more information, see What is a release order?
  • "Permanent" Orders of Protection.  A "permanent" order of protection can be issued only after you appear in front of a judge.  It lasts for one year after it is served on, or given to, the abuser. This is true even if the order is modified (changed) during that one-year period.***

U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 Population Estimates
** A.R.S. § 13-3624
*** A.R.S. § 13-3602(K)

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back to topWhat is a release order?

In counties with a population of 150,000 or less, there isn’t a requirement to provide emergency orders of protection after court hours.  However, protection may be available through a registered release order.  Within 24 hours of a person’s arrest for a domestic violence offense, the court must send a certified copy of his/her release order to the local sheriff’s office.  In the release order, there are conditions that the abuser must comply with and these conditions can be made to protect you from the abuser.*  Examples of such conditions include staying away from the victim or participating in a counseling program.** 

Each sheriff’s office keeps copies of release orders. The police can tell you where you can find the abuser’s release order to learn what conditions were placed on him/her.*  

A release order can also be also issued if the abuser is arrested for violating an order of protection.*** 

* A.R.S. § 13-3624(B) and Arizona Supreme Court, Things You Should Know About Protective Orders (2002)
** AZCADV, Advocacy in Domestic Violence Cases; A Lay Legal Advocates’ Guide to Arizona Law (2012)
*** A.R.S. § 13-3602(O)

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back to topHow can an order of protection help me?

In an order of protection, a judicial officer can order:

  • the abuser not to commit any of the offenses included as domestic violence
  • the abuser to have no contact with you or with anyone else named in the order (this could include telephone calls, texts, letters, messages through someone else, personal contact, etc.);
  • the abuser to stay away from your residence, place of employment, and school or those of anyone else named in the order;
  • one party to have exclusive use of a home shared by you and the abuser (if there is reasonable cause to believe that the abuser may cause you physical harm);
  • law enforcement to accompany a party to a shared home to get his/her belongings;
  • the abuser to turn in any firearms in his/her possession to law enforcement and not possess firearms;
  • the abuser to stay away from and not harm any animal owned by you, the abuser or a minor child in either of your homes (and award you care and custody of the animal);
  • other relief that is appropriate and necessary for your protection and the protection of anyone else specifically named in the order; and
  • the abuser to complete a domestic violence offender treatment program or any other program deemed appropriate by the court (as part of a final order).*
* A.R.S. § 13-3602(G)

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back to topHow much does an order of protection cost?

Nothing. There are no fees for filing or serving an order of protection.*

 * A.R.S. § 13-3602(D)

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back to topIn which county can I file for an order of protection?

As a resident of Arizona, you can file for a domestic violence protective order in any superior, municipal or justice court in any county in Arizona. The only exceptions are that:

  1. If two courts are located within a one mile distance, then one court can be designated as the court which issues protective orders;
  2. If you have filed an action for divorce, separation, paternity or annulment with the superior court (involving the same person from whom you want protection), then you need to return to the superior court to request an order of protection; and
  3. If the defendant is less than 12 years of age, only the juvenile division of the superior court may issue the order or injunction.*
* A.R.S. § 13-3602(A)

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back to topDo I need a lawyer?

No, you do not need an attorney to file for an order of protection.  However, it may be helpful to have one, especially if the abuser requests a hearing.  For more information, see Will I have to face the abuser in court?

You will find information on legal assistance and domestic violence organizations under the Where to Find Help tab at the top of this page.  You might also want to check the AZ Download Court Forms page to see which forms you may have to fill out in court.

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back to topWill I have to face the abuser in court?

Maybe.  A judge can issue you an order of protection without a full court hearing and without the abuser present.*  However, a judge could also require further court hearings before granting the order of protection.  If so, a hearing may be scheduled within 10 days and the court will notify the abuser of the court date.**  The abuser has a right to appear in court for the hearing date(s).

If the judge issues you an order of protection without the abuser present, the abuser will be served with a copy of the order of protection against him/her. Your order will go into effect as soon as s/he is served with a copy of the order. Your order will last for one year from when the abuser is served.***

The abuser has the right to request a hearing at any time during the year your order is in effect for a chance to have the order of protection changed or canceled.****   If s/he does request a court hearing, you must attend that hearing and you may have to face the abuser in court.  If you do not go to the hearing, a judge may dismiss (take away) your order of protection (also known as “quashing the order”).

If the abuser does not request a court hearing, you might not have to go back to court.  However, you may have additional court hearings if you want to change your order of protection, or if the abuser violates the order.  The abuser may come to those hearings. 

* A.R.S. § 13-3602(E)
** A.R.S. § 13-3602(F)
*** A.R.S. § 13-3602(K)
**** A.R.S. § 13-3602(I) 

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