It’s Complicated: When a Roommate Accuses You of Harassment or Sexual Assault

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Sep 12, 2022 | 0 Comments

We live in expensive times, and for many people the only way to afford a place to live is to share a house or apartment with others. And while it may be great to imagine a bunch of people happily living together like in an old episode of “Friends,” the reality is that many co-living situations involve strangers who never knew each other before suddenly trying to share bathrooms and kitchens. Humans being what they are, this sometimes leads to misunderstandings, arguments, or worse.

One of the nightmare scenarios is when a roommate accuses you of sexual assault or harassment. What happens next will depend on a number of factors.

Have You Been Served With a PFA?

A PFA is a Protection From Abuse order, similar to what is known elsewhere as a restraining order. In Pennsylvania, a court will issue a PFA only under certain circumstances. One of these that is relevant to roommate situations is a history between the two parties of an ongoing intimate relationship, in addition to specific kinds of allegations – in particular, sexual assault or an attempt to cause injury.

If you've been served with a PFA on behalf of one of your roommates, it is extremely important that you understand what you can and cannot do. In most cases, you will have little choice but to move out because staying in the same house or apartment is an automatic violation of the PFA. One thing you do not want to do is retaliate. You do have a right to contest the PFA, but a courtroom is the appropriate venue for that fight, not your apartment.

Have You Been Charged With Harassment?

The offense of harassment is broadly worded, basically requiring that the defendant intended to “harass, annoy, or alarm” another person and acted on that in various ways, including the use of physical force, threatening or obscene words, or repeated communications directed towards the victim. Penalties range from a summary offense to third-degree misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of 1 year in prison and a fine of $2000.

A harassment charge filed against you as a result of a complaint from one of your roommates does not automatically mean you have to move out; however, you should immediately seek the advice of an experienced attorney. Each harassment situation is unique and depends on the intent behind the actions of the defendant. Remaining in a volatile living situation could make things worse, and further incidents between you and your roommate could add to the charges against you. An experienced attorney can help you decide whether to stay or to move out, in addition to working with you to prepare your defense and making sure your side of the story is heard.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento Can Help

If you have been served with a PFA or have been charged with harassment as a result of a complaint filed by one of your roommates, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have the expertise and the knowledge you need to help you protect yourself and defend against these charges. Call Attorney Lento and the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or reach out through our contact form to learn more about how they can help you defend your case.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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