In West Manheim Township, a mother was shot in the head and killed in the early hours of the morning while she was holding her nine-month old son. She was shot by her longtime boyfriend, who had confessed to the shooting, although he stated it was an accident. Those close to the woman said it was the final act in a pattern of domestic violence that had been going on for years.
Although this recent story is certainly shocking, domestic violence doesn’t always make headlines. In fact, in many cases, those accused are completely innocent of any charges. This is just one reason why it’s so important to understand the charge of domestic violence, and the impact it will have on your life if you are accused of it.
What is Domestic Violence in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, domestic violence is any assault on a spouse, former spouse, children, parents, and partners or former partners in a romantic relationship. Domestic violence is an umbrella term for many types of offenses including simple or aggravated assault, harassment, rape, stalking, sexual assault, false imprisonment, and sexual abuse.
Many people think domestic violence charges are a result of hurting a close family member. However, these charges are sometimes brought when the family members only felt as though there was a possibility that someone in the family could harm them.
In recent years, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has increased their efforts to reduce the number of domestic violence incidents within the state. As such, the penalties for those convicted are typically quite harsh.
The Consequences of a Domestic Violence Arrest
Although being arrested for any crime will have some type of stigma attached to it, this is particularly true in domestic violence cases. If you are arrested, even if the case does not end with a conviction, it will likely damage your reputation and negatively affect your relationships with friends and family. If you go through a divorce or child custody hearing, it could also negatively impact the outcome of these cases.
If you are convicted of a domestic violence charge, you will likely face jail time. You will also lose your right to own a firearm, and could be placed under a protection from abuse order (PFA). These are typically in effect for three years. If you are placed under a PFA, you are prohibited from contacting the alleged victim. This makes it extremely difficult if you share a home with the person However, it’s very important to comply with the restrictions of the PFA. If you do not, you could be arrested.
Even if you are not convicted of the crime, you will have to spend at least one night in jail. Unlike other crimes, after being arrested on a domestic violence charge, you cannot be released until you have appeared before a judge.
A Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney can Provide the Help You Need
If you have been arrested on a domestic violence charge, it’s important you speak to an Allentown criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin, we know the many defenses that can be used in the cases and we’ll argue them effectively to give you the best chance of a successful outcome. Call us today at (215) 486-0123 or contact us online for your free consultation to learn more about how we can help.