Charges of Roommate Violence in DC
Violence against a roommate qualifies as interpersonal violence, which refers to any criminal offense committed or threatened to be committed against a person’s current or former roommate. If you have been charged with committing violence against a roommate, it is important you contact an experienced DC domestic violence lawyer to begin mitigating the damage of the allegation, and building a defense.
Types of Roommate Violence Offenses
Interfamily offenses include interpersonal violence and are handled in the Domestic Violence Unit of the DC Superior Court, as long as the criminal offense is a misdemeanor. If the criminal offense is a felony, it will be handled in a regular felony courtroom, even if the parties involved are current or former roommates.
For example, if a person is charged with simple assault for punching their current roommate, that case will be heard in the Domestic Violence Unit since it is considered to be a misdemeanor simple assault.
However if a person is charged with aggravated assault and cause serious bodily injury to their current roommate, that case will be heard with all other felony cases, even though it qualifies as interpersonal violent offense.
If the people involved turn out not to be current or former roommates, and do not share another intra-family or intimate partner relationship, then the case will not be considered a domestic violence case and will be heard by either a misdemeanor or felony calendar judge depending on the case.
The potential criminal consequences for violence against a roommate will depend entirely on the criminal offense that the accused is charged with. If they are charged with a misdemeanor such as simple assault, threats of bodily harms, destruction of property, or stalking, the potential criminal consequences are either 180 days or 12 months in jail or 12 months depending on the charge.
If a person has been charged with a felony, the potential criminal consequences will be much more severe. For example, if they are charged with aggravated assault, the potential penalties include a term of imprisonment up to 10 years, a $25,000 fine, or both.
Other felonies, such as assault with intent to kill, or assault with intent to commit first degree sexual abuse, carry a mandatory minimum penalty of two years in prison and a maximum potential penalty of up to 15 years in prison.
Role of an Attorney
If your current or former roommate accuses you of committing a criminal offense against them, it is best to contact a lawyer immediately. Your lawyer will help explain the necessary steps to take, such as gathering evidence to dispute the false claim. For example, making a list of witnesses who would be able to support your side of the story is a good way to be proactive in the event that false allegations lead to your arrest or to criminal charges.
It is important to contact a domestic violence lawyer who is familiar with handling criminal cases involving interpersonal relationships in DC. Your lawyer will be able to evaluate your case and identify potential defenses and also explain how domestic violence cases are handled by both judges and the prosecution.
Depending on the offense charged, the maximum potential penalties may include many years of imprisonment. Your lawyer will be able to advocate on your behalf to minimize your risk of such serious penalties.