A Criminal Defense Attorneys Prospective on Roommate Disputes, Violence and the Law
Many clients and some lawyers are surprised to know that roommate disputes and violence are categorized as domestic violence. This means disputes between roommates can carry the consequences of a traditional domestic violence case and they should be effective at negotiating and addressing the concerns and issues that a prosecuting attorney will have. Proactively approaching a case in this manner leads to better results for all.
Upfront, there are some issues that roommate assault, violence or harassment raise that your criminal defense lawyer | attorney should prepare you for. Here are the three most important:
Cases that carry a domestic violence label require mandatory arrest of the party determined to be the primary aggressor of a fight within the last 4 hours. RCW 10.31.100. Practically, this means that the police officers are in a bit of a bind. If they take no action, they run the risk of leaving a situation that required their intervention and having things further escalate. Practically, this means that they will generally choose a primary aggressor and arrest them based either on marks, testimony, intoxication, angry outbursts, or who seems more aggressive simply to end the dispute and avoid liability. Unfortunately, officers will often write their police reports to support their arrest finding.
- The law associated with the Domestic Violence label requires judges to consider entering No-Contact Orders. No-Contact Orders ban any sort of contact with the protected party and almost always have a distance restriction, meaning they limit how close two people can be to each other. Practically, this means that the person who is arrested and charged can have a No-Contact Order entered against them and not be able speak with their roommate or return to their house or apartment. Your lawyer must be aware of this strong possibility and be familiar with how best to approach this problem with the prosecutor and the judge including using third parties to remove belonging and utilize civil standbys. Though things can be done after such an order is entered, our lawyers and attorneys have had the best success when we are retained early on in this domestic violence process.
- The Law in Washington allows you to break a lease based on Domestic Violence. The law in Washington applying to residential leases allows leases to be broken if, at minimum, a qualified third party is willing to write a report substantiating a party is the victim of domestic violence. Under the right circumstances, we have had success doing this for victim clients who are charged for whatever reason.
The criminal defense lawyers in our office have an enormous amount of individual and combined experience handling roommate disputes, violence, conflict and trials in the criminal and civil courts. Clients retain or hire us because they want an experienced, staunch and effective criminal defense lawyer | attorney who takes the time to make sure their rights are protected and are familiar with the criminal system, roommate problems and dispute dynamics. Our firm has a unique blend of courtroom experience, skills, knowledge and temperament. Consultations are free but a poor choice in counsel is not. The first step is a phone call or appointment. Call 206-708-7852 to set up your first appointment.