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We were only dating, can I be charged with domestic violence?


The short answer is yes. Historically, the states have deemed that domestic violence can only happen to a person’s spouse or former spouse, but due to the recent changes in societal norms and the urging of various groups against domestic violence, Nevada has now updated their definition. Here’s the exact section from Nevada NRS 33.018 about domestic violence charge:

As used in this section, “dating relationship” means frequent, intimate associations primarily characterized by the expectation of affectional or sexual involvement. The term does not include a casual relationship or an ordinary association between persons in a business or social context.

For defense lawyers, the definition is still too vague, and there are a myriad of unanswered questions like, how does one decide if the relationship is merely casual, or a dating relationship? Several factors come into play to determine if a couple can be classified as dating:

  • The age of the people involved. Only adults or married teenagers from 16-17 can be charged with domestic violence, anything else may fall under another crime like battery or assault.
  • The sex of the persons involved. As of now, Nevada doesn’t recognize same sex marriage, although is recognized as a domestic partnership, which holds some limited benefits comparable to a marriage between a man and a woman. In other words, same sex partners in Nevada can be charged with domestic violence.
  • Genders of the people involved. To further complicate things, people will assign themselves different genders. Can an asexual person commit domestic violence if they never perform sexual activities?
  • The relationship between the partners. This is where it often becomes complicated, how does one define a relationship? Is it up to the people involved in the relationship, or the judge or jury to decide? In many cases, different aspects are used to determine if their relationship can indeed by classified as domestic violence:
    • Length of the relationship – One of the most important elements in a relationship is the couple’s time with each other. Of course, a fling of a few days is not enough for domestic violence charges, but any dating relationship that has reached years will definitely fall under domestic violence.
    • The intimacy between partners – How they regard each other can make all the difference between a domestic violence case and assault and battery. Do they truly experience a strong attachment with the other when it comes to affection? Does it involve sexual activity?
    • Frequency of intimacy –  It’s not enough that they know and interact with each other, the intimacy has to be for the long term. This facet of the relationship can be very difficult to determine because of the complicated nature of relationships. A famous example are couples with an on-again, off-again relationship.

If you have been charged with domestic violence but you believe that it fails to fulfill the conditions of a dating relationship, please contact a criminal defense lawyer for a legal counsel.

For more information about Domestic Violence, click here.

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