If you have been charged with domestic violence, you are facing serious and emotionally-charged accusations – and their negative impact can follow you for the rest of your life.
You have been accused of attacking a family member, and you face consequences that include not being allowed to return to your home or even see your children.
The claims against you may have been made out of anger, spite, jealousy, aims to gain more in a divorce or custody battle, or a desire for revenge. But no matter what motivated the charges or whether they are untrue, they will have devastating consequences unless you have a strong defense.
- In recent years the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has stepped up their efforts to reduce domestic violence incidents. So you have a greater chance today of drawing a severe penalty.
- Domestic violence covers assaults on spouses, former spouses, children, parents and significant others.
- You may be charged with harming a family member or just the possibility of harming them.
- Offenses that fall under domestic violence include simple assault, aggravated assault, harassment, rape, stalking, sexual assault, false imprisonment and sexual abuse.
- An alleged victim may have many incentives to make false reports.
- Even if the victim asks them to, courts usually will not dismiss charges.
Depending on the case, you can be charged with a misdemeanor. However if the alleged victim has been injured you can be charged with a felony.
The Repercussions Of A Domestic Violence Arrest
- An arrest may hurt your reputation, and damage your relationships with family and friends. It can negatively affect your outcome in a divorce or child custody action.
- If you are found guilty of domestic violence you may be sentenced to prison, lose your right to own a firearm or be placed under a protection from abuse order (PFA) that will affect you for up to three years.
- A PFA forbids you from contacting or coming near the alleged victim. This means you will not be able to return to your home if you share it with the other party. It is critical that you don’t violate any of your PFA’s tough restrictions because if you do, you can be arrested.
- You may have to take an anger management class, receive counseling or perform community service.
Domestic Violence Is Different From Other Crimes
In a domestic fight, the person who calls the police is in a stronger position. The police do not have to witness this crime and they can make an arrest, based solely on the word of the alleged victim, if they observe a physical injury or any other corroborating evidence.
In many criminal cases, the police will let you go home after an arrest with a summons to go to court at a later time. However in a domestic violence case, you can’t be released without first going before a judge. So even if the claim against you is untrue, you will spend at least one night in jail.
There may be severe penalties even before there is a hearing. For example, your legally owned firearm can be taken away from you without reimbursement.
Your attorney will first find out if there was really an injury observed by the police or evidence to substantiate the alleged victim’s claims.
How A Lawyer Will Help
The first hearing on your case will be to determine whether you will be an ongoing danger to the alleged victim. The victim will have a witness advocate and a prosecutor arguing on his or her behalf. You will need an experienced criminal defense attorney at your side.
Pennsylvania Domestic Violence Law
Domestic violence is described and defined under The Pennsylvania Criminal Code under Title 18 Chapter 27. Read the code here.
Questions? Contact us today.
If this is the first time you have been arrested for domestic violence, a defense attorney at Fienman Defense may be able to place you in a diversion program and keep you from having a conviction on your record. If the prosecution has a strong case, Fienman Defense will work hard to present a strong defense on your behalf.