October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. The purpose of this month is to mourn those that have been lost to abuse, celebrate survivors, and to strive for change. Dedicating a month to domestic violence awareness is incredibly important and a way for everyone to show their support for victims.
Unfortunately, not everyone accused of domestic violence is guilty of the crime. Yet, they still face very serious consequences if they are convicted. Below, our criminal defense lawyer in Allentown explains the five defense strategies that can help you retain your freedom if you have been charged.
You Were Falsely Accused
It is not uncommon for allegations of domestic violence to be false. When police respond to a call about domestic violence, it usually ends in an arrest, even if abuse did not occur. This can quickly make it feel as though you are presumed guilty until you are proven innocent, but that is not how the criminal justice system works. A lawyer will collect evidence such as witness statements, and perhaps even social media posts, to prove the allegations are false.
You Acted in Self-Defense
Pennsylvania law allows you to use force when necessary if you need to protect yourself from serious harm, or if you were protecting a family member from serious harm. If this was the case, you can use your reasons for acting as you did, even if you did attack someone in your household. Self-defense is a fairly common defense used in domestic violence cases because charges usually stem after people in the same household have been involved in a heated argument.
Your Actions Do Not Qualify as Abuse Under State Law
The domestic violence statute in Pennsylvania is quite clear about what qualifies as abuse. Abuse under this law is defined as any action that:
- Is an attempt to inflict bodily injury
- Causes bodily injury intentionally, recklessly, or knowingly
- Places another person in reasonable fear of imminent harm or injury
- Involves false imprisonment
If your actions do not fall under the above definition, you can use it as a defense in your case.
The Alleged Victim is Not a Household Member
If the alleged victim is not related to you, or does not live in your household, you can use this as a defense. Although you may still face charges of assault or battery, to be convicted of domestic violence, an altercation must have occurred between you, a family member, or someone you have an intimate relationship with, or have had an intimate relationship with in the past.
The Police Violated Your Rights
Although police officers are governed by special rules when responding to a domestic violence call, you still have rights. If you were not read the Miranda warning when arrested, or police did not allow you to call a lawyer, these violations of your rights can be used as a defense and get important evidence thrown out of your case.
Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Allentown Can Help with Your Charges
If you have been charged with domestic violence, it is critical that you obtain sound legal advice from an Allentown criminal defense lawyer. At van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin, our skilled attorneys know the defense strategies to use that will give you the best chance of a positive outcome. Call us today at (215) 486-0123 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.