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DAVID CLARK
Criminal Defense Attorney

Philadelphia Spousal Abuse Lawyer

Spousal abuse in Philadelphia can apply to any of the criminal charges of intimidation, striking, threatening behavior, or unlawful restraint that occurs against a partner, spouse, girlfriend, or ex-partner. If they live together and it is not a clear relationship, the court may still count that as spousal abuse. There are special enhancements for certain crimes, such as strangulation against a spouse, which is graded as a felony instead of a misdemeanor. A spousal abuse case will be prosecuted and processed by the court in a different way. The case will be sent to special courtrooms, prosecuted by special DAs, and in front of judges who have experience with domestic violence cases.

If you have been accused of committing violence against your partner, seek help from a Philadelphia spousal abuse lawyer. They could review the prosecution’s case and help you fight the charges. It is best to speak to a skilled domestic violence attorney to learn about your legal rights and options.

Connection Between Spousal Abuse and Domestic Violence

Spousal abuse is a large subset of the domestic violence category. It is the most common charge of domestic violence, husband against wife or boyfriend against girlfriend and is often reported by either the alleged victims or by a neighbor who witnesses the event.

A person will not be charged with separate crimes of spousal abuse and domestic violence but instead will be charged with one charge processed as domestic violence. They will not be charged for spousal abuse but rather the act they performed, whether it was simple assault, aggravated assault, terroristic threats, or something similar. It is best to consult a Philadelphia spousal abuse lawyer because while the terms may seem similar, they can have huge differences in the amount of jail time or fines associated with each charge.

What to Expect Following An Accusation of Violence

If accused of spousal abuse in Philadelphia, a person can expect to face the scrutiny of the judges, the prosecutors, and any investigating agencies. This is not a process that they should try to navigate alone. Police officers may come to investigate or request more evidence, and they may advise the spouse about different ways to file several cases against the person. They will advise about getting a PFA in family court, as well as arresting the defendant and charging them criminally. The district attorneys will then later call and subpoena the spouse that was allegedly abused as a witness for various hearings, including preliminary hearings and trials. Judges will scrutinize and listen to the case, listening for evidence that the person was abused, and then dictate a punishment that is appropriate for the charges.

From the first court date, the judge will examine the case to determine whether there is enough evidence for felony charges or if the crime is only at the misdemeanor level. The judge also checks whether the bail amount should be raised against the person and whether they should be in custody. Unlike other types of charges, spousal abuse charges sometimes result in a person being placed back into custody after being freed because the situation has become worse. The person charged should resist interacting with their spouse during this time if a protection order is in place. Violating the order could land them back in jail.

Consequences

Some of the consequences of being charged with spousal abuse is harm to the person’s reputation, they may be forced to live in a different place by a stay-away order, and the inablity to see their kids. If there is a protection order in place, they should find a safe location where they can stay until the case reaches a conclusion.

If charges are filed, they can affect other pending cases and applications as well, such as immigration, and applications for high-level jobs and clearances.

It is best to consult with a Philadelphia spousal abuse attorney as soon as possible about these negative possibilities and other consequences.

Understanding Restraining And Protective Orders

The protection from abuse order can be filed at the same time as a criminal case in civil court. It sometimes is granted faster than the criminal court case will take place. A protection from abuse order can be filed by a spouse or alleged victim while the criminal case is initiated and controlled by the prosecutor and the state.

The Protection from Abuse order is different, and the decision to prosecute that is controlled by the spouse or another family member that files for it. This means that while the alleged victim has control over the civil case and some aspects of the protection from abuse order, they do not have any control over the criminal case. Even if they want to withdraw the criminal charges, often that is not within their control. It is the prosecutor’s prerogative whether to keep the charges moving forward or withdraw them against the alleged abuser.

Impact of Criminal Charge

A protection order can have a very big impact on criminal charges and any future criminal charges. For example, if a protection order is in place and somene returns to the evicted home, they can be charged with burglary of the first degree for violating the protection of abuse order. This is a much more serious charge than trespassing. Because the protection from abuse order is in place, the court will assume they are up to no good when they go back there and will charge them with burglary. There are other presumptions in the law that will be in effect if a protection from abuse order is in place. The order makes any criminal action against the person much more serious.

Let a Philadelphia Spousal Abuse Attorney Help

After a person has been accused or charged, from the very first moment, they should resist the urge to speak to the police about the case. These statements might be the only evidence against them if the spouse fails to appear in court or does not move forward with the prosecution. Any admission that they make about what happened will all be evidence against them.

You should not try to handle the case on your own. Let a Philadelphia spousal abuse lawyer help your case. Call today to schedule a consultation.