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Pennsylvania Domestic Violence Lawyer
Allegations of domestic violence are taken very seriously by law enforcement officials in Pennsylvania, with the result that sometimes charges are brought where they are not warranted. However, it is important to take care of all domestic violence charges, especially when there is some sort of court order in place.
Even an inadvertent violation of a court order could result in substantial additional penalties and weaken defense arguments. So if you are facing domestic violence charges, it is wise to talk to an experienced Pennsylvania domestic violence lawyer to protect your rights and your future. The sooner you reach out to an accomplished defense attorney, the sooner they could begin working on your case.
How Domestic Violence is Treated Under Pennsylvania Law
The Pennsylvania statutes do not define specific “domestic violence” crimes. Instead, when it is alleged that certain crimes have been committed involving parties considered to be in a domestic relationship, the way the case is handled changes.
To begin with, in cases where domestic violence is alleged against someone, police are given the right to arrest that person without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe that certain types of offenses were committed against a member of the household or family.
In addition, a court may order a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order against the party alleged to taken violent or threatening actions. These types of orders may only be obtained against someone is a domestic relationship as defined under Pennsylvania law.
The terms of a PFA order may be quite serious and may require one party to vacate a shared residence, refrain from all contact with the other party, and lose custody of children. Violation of a PFA is considered criminal contempt of court which may be penalized by up to six months of incarceration and a fine of up to $1,000. (23 Pa. Cons. Stat. §6114) The penalties for domestic violence charges are severe, therefore, defendants should seek the services of a Pennsylvania domestic violence lawyer.
What is Considered a Domestic Relationship in Pennsylvania
Domestic violence provisions apply in situations where the parties are “family or household members,” intimate dating partners (current or former), or people who have parented a child together. Family or household members include spouses, divorced or separated spouses, people who “lived as spouses,” parents and children, and others related by blood or “affinity.” (23 Pa. Cons. Stat. §6102) For more information about what is considered a domestic relationship, consult with a knowledgeable domestic violence attorney in Pennsylvania.
Domestic Abuse Consists of Certain Crimes Committed Among Family Members
The same domestic relations statutory section that defines domestic family relationships also defines abuse. The following acts will be considered domestic abuse if they occur between family or household members as described above:
- Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury or attempting to cause bodily injury
- Sex crimes including rape, sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault or indecent assault (committed intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or attempted)
- Acts that place another family member in “reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury”
- False imprisonment
- Physical or sexual abuse of minors
- Stalking (engaging in a course of conduct or repeated acts in a way that places another person in reasonable fear of danger)
Let a Pennsylvania Domestic Violence Attorney Assist
Domestic violence crimes are often treated as serious felonies with penalties that include many years of imprisonment and heavy fines, plus the potential for sex offender registration requirements and other unwanted consequences. It is important to be certain that terms of any court orders are fully understood and complied with.
A dedicated Pennsylvania domestic violence lawyer could explain how to comply with court orders and how to avoid taking actions that could compound the offense.
In addition, your attorney will provide guidance throughout all proceedings and advocate on your behalf to help reach the best possible outcome. To learn how an experienced legal professional could work for you, contact the office now.