Civil Liability to a Landlord for Acts of Domestic Violence.
There are many civil sanctions and prohibitions that can result from an Arizona criminal conviction. As a seasoned Arizona criminal defense attorney, I routinely warn my clients about these looming “collateral consequences.” Most people know that convicted felons lose the right to vote and the right to bear arms, but many people are surprised to learn that serious collateral consequences can also attach to misdemeanor convictions.
These “after-the-fact” sanctions can be extremely costly, and some of them endure for years. They can include the loss of economic opportunities, driver’s license revocation and disqualification for certain government services. Serving jail time is not required; generally, the conviction itself triggers these collateral consequences.
There is, however, one significant (and relatively unknown) collateral consequence of domestic violence that does not even require a conviction. Arizona law permits a victim of domestic violence to terminate a rental agreement and avoid liability for future rent and termination costs. See Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1318(A). To invoke this statute, the tenant need only provide (1) a copy of an order of protection; or (2) a copy of a police report. Once a lease has been successfully terminated under this statute, the landlord can recover his economic losses from the defendant. Thus, without the due process protection of a criminal court proceeding, the person alleged to have committed domestic violence can owe large sums of money to a landlord he has never met:
A person named in an order of protection or a departmental report … who provokes an early lease termination under this section is deemed to have interfered with the residential rental agreement between the landlord and tenant regardless of whether the person named in an order of protection or a departmental report … is a party to the rental agreement, and the person … may be civilly liable for all economic losses incurred by a landlord for the domestic violence early lease termination. This civil liability includes unpaid rent, early lease termination fees, costs to repair damage to the premises and any reductions or waivers of rent previously granted to the tenant who was the victim of domestic violence.
A.R.S. § 33-1318(I) (emphasis added).
Should you or a loved one ever be served with an order of protection or be accused of a domestic violence, please call our office immediately at (480) 833-2341 (24/7). Our criminal defense attorneys are available after hours and on weekends to answer your questions. It is important to retain an attorney who not only understands the criminal court proceedings and statutes, but can also advise you of the collateral consequences of the charges you face.