The Dating Game Has a New Rule

July 21st, 2015 by Attorney Dan Carman

Relationships can sometimes be hard to categorize. Are you “seeing” someone or just “hanging out?” Are you hookup buddies, “friends with benefits,” or actually dating each other? Has there been physical injury, sexual abuse or assault involved? If so, in order to apply a new law aimed at protecting both adult and minor victims of domestic violence, judges must determine the critical question of whether a dating relationship exists.

Passed by the Kentucky legislature and signed by Governor Beshear in April, the Dating Violence Act (House Bill 8) allows victims of dating violence to take out emergency protective orders (EPOs) against their abusers or stalkers. EPOs are intended to provide immediate, temporary relief to the victim, and are available 24 hours a day in all 120 counties of Kentucky. Currently, that kind of protection applies only to married couples, those who have a child in common, or people who live together. Until the bill goes into effect on January 1, 2016, the only way a victim of dating violence can get protection is to file a complaint, which can take weeks or months before it is even heard in court.

The law says a “dating relationship” means a relationship between individuals who have or have had a relationship of a romantic or intimate nature, and this includes relationships that existed within the past three years. The judge may consider these factors:

  • Whether there was an “expectation of affection” between the parties
  • The frequency and type of interaction between the parties
  • Whether the parties were involved over time and on a continuous basis
  • Whether there was violence in a casual acquaintanceship or violence between individuals who have only engaged in ordinary fraternization in a business or social context.

Dating violence is any act committed by one partner against another in an intimate relationship that seeks to degrade or injure the other partner and which takes away or destroys the aspects of a good, healthy relationship. It cuts across all ages, ethnicities, religions and socio-economic backgrounds. Unmarried women make up half of all intimate-partner violence victims, according to the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association. Statistics show that young women ages 16 to 24 years suffer the highest rates of relationship violence, with 1 in 5 high school girls being physically or sexually hurt by a dating partner. Dating violence can include stalking, destruction of property, intimidation through written materials (including social media) and control through excessive communication.

For example, 1 in 3 teens say they are text messaged 10, 20, even 30 times an hour by a partner keeping tabs on them.

While domestic violence is a significant problem in our society, both the victim and the accused have rights that need to be considered. Although the law does allow the EPO to be expunged if it turns out to be based on false claims, it can also be issued without the accused’s knowledge or opportunity to defend himself or herself. Sometimes it can be hard to recognize the boundaries between healthy and abusive interactions, especially for minors.

If you have questions about how this new law might apply to your situation, discuss it with one of the attorneys at the Lexington, KY-based Dan Carman Law Firm. As criminal defense attorneys with years of experience, we offer thorough, experienced representation. Call today at (859) 685-1055 or fill out this online contact form to find out how we can help you.