Monday, March 2, 2009

Domestic Violence Statute Doesn't Apply to Persons in Dating Relationship Under Sixteen Years Old

A new case from the Court of Apeals, Neilson ex rel. Crump v. Blanchette, docket # 27066-1 (Division III), holds that the domestic violence statute does not cover acts between individuals in a dating relationship under the age of sixteen. The holding is based on the definition of “family or household members.”

“Family or household members” includes “persons sixteen years of age or older with whom a person sixteen years of age or older has or has had a dating relationship.”

Here, the alleged perpetrator was seventeen years old and the alleged victim was fourteen years old. The trial court overlooked this fact and entered a domestic violence protection order on behalf of the alleged victim. Among other restrictions, the order prevented the alleged perpetrator from attending the high school that he and the alleged victim both attended.

The court of appeals reversed, holding that the trial court lack authority to issue the order because the statute only applied to persons in a current or former dating relationship who were sixteen years old or older.

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