Domestic violence encompasses all criminal offenses that involve people who are in certain relationships, such as being married, being in a romantic or sexual relationship, having a child in common, sharing a home, or sharing a partner either currently or in the past.
Any charges of abuse by a family member should be addressed with a DC domestic violence lawyer, regardless of which category of relationship the crime falls under as these offenses can be extremely serious and carry a variety of penalties.
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Domestic violence can be categorized into three different groups. One group is called intimate partner violence, which consists of any crime or threatened crime committed against a spouse, domestic partner, or person with whom the alleged offender was in a romantic, sexual, or dating relationship. The intimate partner designation exists whether these relationships are current or in the past. An example of intimate partner violence is a woman threatening to harm her ex-husband with a knife. The parties are considered to be intimate partners because they used to be married.
Another category is interfamily violence, which consists of any crime committed or threatened to be committed against a person who the alleged offender is related to by blood, marriage, adoption, legal custody, or domestic partnership, or if the two parties have a child in common. Domestic violence crimes that are committed against a person’s sibling, adopted sibling, or step-sibling would all be situations that are considered interfamily relationships and warrant the attention of a lawyer in DC.
The third category is interpersonal violence, which consists of any crime or threatened crime committed against the person with whom the alleged offender shares a residence or has an intimate partner in common. An example of an intimate partner in common is an ex-husband and his ex-wife’s new boyfriend. The ex-husband and the boyfriend have an interpersonal relationship because they have a common intimate partner. Therefore, if the ex-husband stalks, harasses, assaults, or commits any other crime against the new boyfriend, the crime will be considered an interpersonal violent offense given their relationship.
If a person accuses another of domestic violence, but their relationship is not an intimate partner, interfamily or interpersonal relationship, it is possible that the government could still charge the accused with a criminal offense if enough evidence exists to show the accused committed a crime, but it will not be a domestic abuse case.
For example, if a person accused another of family violence because that person assaulted him or her, the government could charge that person with simple assault. It would not be considered domestic violence unless the two people are in one of the types of domestic relationships.
Family violence concerns the relationship between the people involved. If the act is criminal, even if the parties are not in a domestic relationship, the government will prosecute the criminal act, making contact with an attorney in DC crucial.
The penalties for crimes associated with domestic violence in DC will depend on the specific crime charged against a person. If a person is charged with simple assault, the penalties are 180 days in jail, $1,000 fine, or both. If a person is charged with stalking, the potential penalties are 12 months in jail, $2,500 fine, or both. The potential penalties are the same for domestic abuse and non-domestic violence cases involving the same crimes.
There are two different proceedings to be aware of if accused of a domestic violence offense. It is possible that the accuser will petition the DC Superior Court for a civil protection order, which can result in a hearing. This is a civil matter and is separate from the criminal process. It is also possible that the accuser will report the alleged offense to police who will investigate the crime and forward the information to the prosecutor’s office.
If the prosecutor decides to pursue the allegations and charge the accused with the offense, it is possible for the civil matter to follow the criminal case and be set for the same date. After a person is arrested, they will go through an arraignment process and might be given the opportunity for pretrial release.
Because of the emotional and intimate nature of domestic violence cases, there is the possibility of false accusations to occur. In such instances, it becomes even more important to seek out an experienced DC attorney who can help you combat the false accusations of this offense.
If a civil protection order (CPO) has been granted and a person has been ordered to refrain from doing certain things, it is very important to abide by those orders.
If a person has a criminal case as well, a violation of a CPO can result in additional criminal charges. Even if the CPO does not result in criminal charges, a violation of a CPO may negatively impact negotiations with the prosecutors if the person’s DC domestic abuse attorney is trying to work out a favorable resolution.
If you are charged with an offense that is also considered abuse against a family member, it is important to contact an experienced DC domestic violence lawyer immediately.
Your attorney will be able to explain how these cases are heard, provide information about the domestic violence unit of the DC Superior Court, and explain how those cases are pursued by the local prosecution.
Additionally, depending on the actual offense that you are charged with, your lawyer could explain the potential penalties that you may be facing and what to expect if the complaining witness in the criminal case files a petition for a civil protection order.
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