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Domestic Violence charge for fighting with a roommate?

Many people would be surprised to realize that under Nevada's domestic violence laws, a person can be convicted of battery constituting domestic violence for getting into a physical fight with a roommate--or even a former roommate!

An arrest and conviction for domestic violence requires two elements: an act of violence and a "domestic relationship." Some types of domestic relationships are obvious, such as spouse, girlfriend, or boyfriend. Other types of domestic relationships are not so obvious.

What counts as a domestic relationship is defined by statute. Specifically, NRS 33.018 defines domestic violence as an act that is committed "against or upon the [defendant's] spouse or former spouse, any other person to whom the [defendant] is related by blood or marriage, any other person with whom the [defendant] is or was actually residing, any other person with whom the [defendant] has had or is having a dating relationship…"

The language which allows prosecutors to charge an individual with domestic violence for getting into a fight with a roommate is bolded above. This language means that if you have ever lived with another person for any period of time, long or short, and sometime later you get into a physical fight with that person, both you and your former roommate can be charged with domestic violence.

Domestic violence penalties are harsh. They include mandatory jail time, six months of counseling, and a permanent loss of certain rights, including the loss of all gun rights under federal law. Because of the harshness of these penalties, in my opinion, domestic violence laws should only apply to situations where one person holds power over and abuses the other "domestic partner." True domestic abusers need counseling, and an argument could be made that the other mandatory penalties are appropriate in true instances of domestic abuse. However, former roommates who get into a mutual fistfight are simply not domestic abusers, and should not be treated and punished like domestic abusers. Unfortunately, under the law as it currently exists in Nevada, former roommates are treated like domestic abusers and can be punished the exact same way.

I have successfully handled hundreds of domestic violence cases. Many of these cases have involved people who got into a physical fight with their roommates and former roommates, or their adult siblings. Needless to say, these individuals were surprised to learn that they had been charged with domestic violence rather than a simple battery or disorderly conduct.

If you have been charged with domestic violence in Las Vegas or anywhere else in Clark County, call me now.


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