Roommate violence cases often center on one person’s word against another. If you have been arrested for roommate violence in West Palm Beach or the surrounding areas, it is important to work with an attorney who will implement an aggressive defense strategy.
West Palm Beach roommate violence lawyers can make every effort to help you avoid the serious consequences of a conviction by providing professional and skilled representation. An experienced domestic violence attorney can help you present a strong defense in court.
Defining Roommate Violence Under Florida Law
Roommate violence can refer to a wide-range of criminal offenses between persons who are currently living together in the same residence. Examples of violent offenses under Florida law include, but are not limited to:
- Aggravated assault
- Aggravated battery
- Sexual assault
- Sexual battery
- Aggravated stalking
- False imprisonment
- Any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death, by one person against another
The characterization of roommate violence depends on the type of criminal offense involved and the nature of the relationship between the two parties.
Facing Violence Charges
An incident in which one roommate strikes another roommate could be charged as domestic battery, dating violence, or simple battery based on whether the two individuals involved are cohabitating family members, in a romantic relationship, or merely roommates.
The penalties for committing an act of roommate violence vary considerably depending on whether the offense charged is a felony or misdemeanor. Individuals should speak with a West Palm Beach roommate violence lawyer about the consequences they may be facing from domestic abuse charges.
When is Roommate Violence Considered Domestic Violence?
The question of whether roommate violence can be charged as an act of domestic violence turns on whether the two individuals are considered family or householder members.
Under Florida Statute Section 741.28, family or household member refers to spouses, former spouses, people related by blood or marriage, people who live together as a family (current or former), and people who have a child in common regardless of whether they were ever married.
If roommates are not presently residing in the same home “as a family,” any act of violence between the two parties would not be charged as an act of domestic violence.
Roommate Violence vs. Dating Violence
Roommates who are in a romantic relationship and are subjected to violence by their partner, have special protections under Florida law. West Palm Beach roommate violence lawyers can help potential clients understand their relationship with another person as defined by the law.
Under Section 784.046, alleged victims of dating violence, repeat violence, and sexual violence to pursue criminal charges with the State Attorney and request an injunction of protection (also called a protective or restraining order) against the person accused of committing such violence. Violation of a protective order is a first-degree misdemeanor.
What is the Impact of an Existing Relationship?
Dating violence is defined as violence between persons who have or have had a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.
The existence of dating relationship is determined using the following factors:
- An intimate relationship has existed within the past six months
- The relationship is characterized by the expectation of affection or sexual involvement between the individuals
- The frequency and type of interaction between the individuals was on a continuous basis throughout the course of the relationship
Protection Against False Accusations
A person who is falsely accused of roommate violence needs to protect themselves. The best way to protect oneself is at the very beginning of the case. If the police are called, the person should not say a word. They should exercise their right to remain silent and should not admit to anything. They should let their accuser accuse them. No matter what the individual says, there is nothing they are going to be able to do to convince them not to say it. It is better that they exercise their right to remain silent and not make any statements to any law enforcement officer, any investigator, or any detective whatsoever. Those statements can be used against them and they are locking themselves into a particular version of facts that may not be accurate and may not be the best explanation of the facts at the time. A person is better off being silent and contacting a Wes Palm Beach roommate violence lawyer right away.
As soon as someone gets released from jail or as soon as they know that they are going to jail, they should have someone call an attorney that could begin working on the defense and challenge the veracity or the truthfulness of the claims against the person. More importantly, the lawyer can go to the jail and get them released on bond so that they can work together to resolve the case, establish their innocence, establish that the person who is accusing them is lying, and establish that the defendant is being falsely accused of committing an act of violence, whether that is roommate violence or domestic violence.
Speaking with a West Palm Beach Roommate Violence Attorney
An attorney can understand how situations between roommates can escalate and get blown out of proportion. A West Palm Beach roommate violence attorney may have extensive experience handling cases involving allegations of simple battery, domestic violence, and dating violence. Contact a distinguished family violence lawyer to discuss the specific facts of your case.