Under Pennsylvania law, same-sex relationships theoretically enjoy the same rights and protections as heterosexual relationships, including issues surrounding domestic violence. However, in practice, defending against allegations of domestic violence in a same-sex relationship can present some additional challenges because there may be unique issues involved. This is why you want a skilled criminal defense attorney in your corner if you are so accused.
Common Issues Surrounding Same-Sex Domestic Violence Allegations
What might prompt an incorrect or false accusation of same-sex domestic violence? Let's look at a few of the factors and motivations that may come into play:
· Separation, divorce, and custody issues. As with many heterosexual relationships, same-sex partners sometimes use domestic violence accusations as a weapon or leverage.
· False claim of relationship. Law enforcement often has trouble differentiating between same-sex couples and roommate relationships. While any violence between cohabitants is considered domestic violence, the alleged victim might claim a sexual relationship to reinforce the notion of domestic violence (versus general assault) to prompt an immediate arrest.
· Arresting the wrong person. Law enforcement often has trouble differentiating between the aggressor and the victim in a conflict between same-sex partners. They have been known to arrest the victim by mistake while the perpetrator remains silent.
· Homophobia. One partner might claim that the other was threatening to “out” them, which may be construed as psychological abuse or could be a motive for physical violence.
Mitigating Circumstances with Same-Sex Domestic Violence
Despite the complexities that often accompany domestic violence in same-sex relationships, certain factors can also help in the defense of the accused. These factors may include:
· The type of domestic violence alleged. While allegations of harassment, stalking, and psychological abuse are contained under the umbrella of domestic violence, these allegations are often more difficult to prove without a substantive body of evidence.
· Mutual participation. If both parties were participating in a violent scuffle, substantiating a charge of one over the other becomes murky at best. This dynamic may be amplified when both parties are the same sex.
· Lack of knowledge or intent. Intent to harm plays a key role in prosecuting domestic violence charges, and in many cases, the defendant was unaware he/she was breaking any laws.
· Self-defense. If the alleged victim initiated the conflict, sometimes the other partner may be wrongfully arrested for the act of self-defense being misconstrued as an attack.
Protecting Your Rights
If you have been accused of domestic violence in a same-sex relationship, the law affords you the same rights as a defendant in a case involving a heterosexual couple. However, in the space between the letter of the law and real-world circumstances and mindsets, your rights may not always be upheld. For this reason, you should hire a skilled, compassionate attorney to represent your interests as a defendant and ensure your rights under the law are protected. Joseph D. Lento is an experienced defense attorney who has built his firm on defending the potentially disadvantaged, including those who have been erroneously accused of same-sex domestic violence. Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686.