Domestic violence refers to all criminal offenses involving those who are in specified relationships, such as marriages, romantic or sexual relationships, or parties who have a child in common, who share a home, or share an intimate partner either currently or previously. Regardless of the shared relationship, anyone facing domestic violence charges should consult with a DC domestic violence lawyer about the specifics of their case and start to build a defense.
Domestic violence is categorized into three groups in DC. The first category is intimate partner violence, which is defined as any crime or threat committed against a person’s spouse, domestic partner, or any person involved in a romantic or sexual relationship with the alleged offender. Intimate partner violence exists regardless of whether the relationship is current or in the past. For example, if a woman threatens to harm her ex-husband with a knife, it is treated as intimate partner violence. Although the parties are no longer together, they are considered to be intimate partners because they used to be married.
The second category is intrafamily violence, which encompasses any crime that is threatened or committed against a person who is related by blood, marriage, adoption, legal custody, domestic partnership or has a child in common with the alleged offender. Intrafamily violence includes crimes committed against one’s siblings, adopted siblings, or step-siblings.
The third category is interpersonal violence, which encompasses any crime that is threatened or committed against a person who shares a residence with or who has an intimate partner in common with the alleged offender. An example of an intimate partner in common would be an ex-husband and his ex-wife’s new boyfriend — the woman would be considered the intimate partner in common. Therefore, if the ex-husband were to stalk, harass, or commit another crime against the boyfriend, the crime will be considered an interpersonal violent offense.
If there is enough evidence to show that the accused committed a crime, it is possible that the government could still charge the accused with a criminal offense, even if the relationship between the accused and the accuser is not considered to be an intimate partner, interfamily, or interpersonal relationship. For example, accusing someone of domestic violence because an individual was assaulted, could result in the government charging that person with simple assault. The offense would not be considered domestic violence because of the relationship between the two parties. If the act is criminal, even if the parties are not in a domestic relationship, the government will prosecute the criminal act.
There are two possibilities to be aware of. One possibility is that the accuser might petition for a Civil Protection Order which can result in a hearing. This is considered a civil matter and it is separate from the criminal process. Another possibility is that the accuser will report the alleged offense to police, who will then investigate the crime and forward the information to the prosecutor’s office. It is then the prosecutor’s decision whether or not to pursue the allegations and charge the accused person with the offense. If the prosecutor decides to bring charges against the accused person, it is possible for the civil matter to follow the criminal case and be set for the same date.
If a Civil Protection Order has been granted and the accused person has been ordered to refrain from doing certain things, it is very important for a person to abide by any orders given by a judge. If a person is involved in a criminal case as well, a violation of a Civil Protection Order can potentially result in additional criminal charges. Even if the Civil Protection Order does not result in additional criminal charges, a violation of the order may complicate negotiations with the prosecutor if the attorney is trying to work out a favorable resolution for the accused individual.
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