Law enforcement officers take domestic violence incidents seriously, even when charges may not be appropriate. Family and personal relationships are complicated and often result in heated arguments and situations that quickly get out of control. If the police have accused you of committing a domestic violence offense, you really should consider seeking out a Montgomery County domestic violence lawyer for advice.
Aside from the potentially severe penalties for a criminal domestic violence conviction, even a completely innocent breach of a protection from abuse order can result in severe sanctions. Given the gravity of allegations related to domestic violence, it may in your best interest to get in touch with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as quickly as possible following your arrest.
Pennsylvania does not have a separate criminal offense that pertains solely to domestic violence but instead relies on existing criminal offenses to charge individuals with domestic violence. It is when the parties to an offense are family or household members that the crime becomes one of domestic violence.
According to 23 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 6102, family or household members include the following individuals:
Certain criminal offenses must occur by statutory definition to constitute abuse involving family or household members. Among others, these crimes include intentionally causing bodily injury, rape, sexual assault, placing another in fear of imminent physical harm, false imprisonment, incest, and stalking. As these criminal offenses have severe consequences, mainly when they involve a family or household member, getting advice from a domestic violence lawyer in Montgomery County is highly advisable.
Unlike many crimes, police officers have the authority to arrest individuals without a warrant if they have sufficient evidence that certain domestic violence offenses have occurred. These crimes include assault, involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, terroristic threats, and stalking. The officer does not have to witness the crime happening, but they may infer that a crime occurred from documented evidence, such as recently physical injuries to individuals.
Additionally, police could arrest individuals without a warrant under 23 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 6113 if they have sufficient evidence to believe that violation of a PFA order has occurred. Police also have the responsibility to seize any weapons, firearms, or ammunition in the possession of arrested individuals.
When a crime of domestic violence has occurred, the court may issue a protection from abuse (PFA) order. The conditions of PFA orders vary, but they may require that the accused vacate a shared residence, lose custody or visitation rights with children, and have no contact with the other party. A final PFA order may last as much as three years, but individuals may be able to renew the order if a new act of abuse has occurred.
Violation of any of the conditions of a PFA order could be harsh, as a violation constitutes criminal contempt of court. The penalties for criminal contempt of court could include incarceration for up to six months and a fine of up to $1,000. As the potential penalties for violating a PFA order could be severe, a committed attorney in Montgomery County may be able to defend individuals in this situation.
Domestic violence offenses could have severe consequences that may alter the course of your life for many years. A domestic violence conviction on your record may unfairly label you and make it harder for you to find employment and housing.
A Montgomery County domestic violence lawyer may be able to defend you against domestic violence allegations and reach a favorable resolution in your case. A domestic violence arrest also is likely to subject you to the terms of a PFA order, which also can damage your life regarding your living situation, your ability to see your children, and your financial responsibilities for your family. Build a strong defense against accusations of domestic violence to help protect your future. Call today to get started.