The repercussions from a domestic violence charge are among the most traumatizing of any criminal offense. If you have been charged with attacking someone in your family, you not only risk being sent to jail. You are also in jeopardy of being forbidden to return home, prohibited from seeing your children, and having your family relationships damaged beyond repair. It is critical that you have a strong defense during this difficult time.
Domestic Abuse and Your Family
Domestic violence covers assaults on current or former spouses, live-in or former live-in partners, children, parents, people related by blood or marriage, people who have a child together, and current or former sexual partners.
Under Pennsylvania law, you don’t actually have to injure your family member for domestic abuse to take place. If you cause them to fear imminent serious injury you can still be charged.
Domestic abuse in Pennsylvania is broadly defined to include acts such as simple and aggravated assault, stalking, rape, sexual assault and false imprisonment.
Domestic Violence Accusations
Once a domestic abuse charge is made, Pittsburgh area courts will usually not dismiss the charges even if the alleged victim asks to withdraw them.
Domestic violence accusations are frequently made during a bitter divorce or custody actions. Even if they are not legitimate, they can still cause you many serious problems.
In Pennsylvania, victims of domestic violence can ask the courts for a protection from abuse order (PFA). If you are subject to a PFA, you will be prohibited from returning home if you live with the alleged victim. The PFA can also give your spouse temporary custody of your children. This may severely limit your visitation rights and you may be unable to see your children.
The PFA can be in effect for as many as three years. If you violate it, you can be jailed and/or fined.
How a Domestic Violence Charge Can Harm You
Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be sentenced to serve time in jail.
The police may seize your guns and ammunition during an arrest. If you are found guilty of a domestic violence offense, you can lose your right to own a firearm for life.
Domestic violence charges can severely damage your family’s stability.
Your relationships with family members can be harmed for life.
When your employer finds out you were arrested for a violent crime, it can also have a damaging impact on your employment and you may even lose your job.
You will have a criminal record that can negatively affect your ability to get a good job, join the military, obtain certain professional licenses or be admitted to graduate school.
Domestic Violence Arrests
When the police are called in, they will look for the alleged victim to see if there are any injuries or other evidence of domestic abuse. If they do observe sufficient evidence, they will have probable cause to arrest you.
Domestic Violence Laws
Pennsylvania does not have a law devoted solely to domestic abuse crimes. Charges are made under several different criminal statutes, depending on the specific crime, including Pennsylvania’s Protection from Abuse Act. The federal Violence Against Women Act can also come into play if you violate a protective order. Many domestic violence crimes will fall under the Commonwealth’s assault statutes (Title 18 Chapter 27 of the Pennsylvania Code).
Speak to a Pittsburgh Domestic Violence Attorney For a Strong Defense
If you have been charged with domestic violence, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. An experienced Pittsburgh domestic violence attorney may not be able to repair your relationship with the other party, but he or she can make sure that you don’t face jail time, possible revocation of your rights to see children or other dependents, and more. It’s important that you only speak to the police if your attorney is with you. They will ask you questions to get you to say something that may be a false or accidental admittance of guilt. You also should not have any contact with the alleged victim, hard as that may be. Do not have any contact at all with the alleged victim. If you call, text, or otherwise communicate with that person, what you say can be taken out of context and used against you at a trial.
When you meet with your Pittsburgh domestic violence lawyer, tell them everything that happened including the names of any possible witnesses. Your Pittsburgh domestic violence attorney will need as much detailed information as possible.