Accusations of domestic abuse are serious and may carry lasting penalties. While many understand that this type of crime is no laughing matter, there are other aspects of these charges that are alarming to those accused. For instance, you may be surprised to find out that you do not need to be married or even dating someone to be charged with domestic abuse. Domestic violence charges are possible even if you are only living with someone and you behave violently towards them.
Cohabitating Violence More Prevalent Than Marital Violence
Have you heard the old saying, “you fight like an old married couple?” Well, in recent years, the saying should be closer to, “you fight like old roommates.” If you have ever had a roommate, you understand there are struggles. Two (or more) separate lives with little more in common than rent and utility payments are bound to find conflicts. If one person enjoys staying up all night playing video games video while another likes to wake up early and go for a run after making a protein shake in the blender, you can imagine where things might become a little tense. Although these differences and tensions arise in marriages as well, statistics show that cohabiting relationships are more likely to be violent than married relationships. Did you know that:
• For every one protection order issued for a married couple, courts issue 10 for cohabitants?
• The Family Violence Research Program at the University of New Hampshire finds that cohabiters are much more violent than those who are married?
• Unmarried cohabitants are two times more likely to suffer abuse than married cohabitants?
Defining Domestic Violence
You can be a friend or a roommate and in no way intimately affiliated and still be accused of domestic violence. Additionally, the relation does not need to be current. As long as there is a connection, past or present, domestic violence charges are possible with any altercation. Under Illinois law, domestic violence occurs when a person hits, strikes, threatens, chokes, harasses, or interferes with the personal liberty of someone who is a family member or household member. Illinois defines this group of people as:
- Blood-related family;
- Those who are married or in a domestic partnership;
- Those previously married or in a domestic partnership;
- Individuals who share or previously shared a home or dwelling;
- Those believed to have a child in common;
- Dating partners;
- Those with previous romantic relations; and
- Persons with disabilities and their assistants.
If you are surprised to find that you are facing domestic violence charges from an old roommate, you are not alone. In addition to being surprising, if convicted, you face higher criminal penalties than if the incident occurred with someone you never met. Contact a Will County domestic violence defense attorney to discuss your case. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.