The Consequences of a Domestic Violence Charge
According to a recent study from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, more than 10 million people suffer from domestic violence in the United States every year. Since familiarity is an inherent component with domestic violence, the alleged perpetrators are often easy to identify — which begs the question: are 10 million people charged with domestic violence every year?
If you have been arrested and charged with a domestic violence offense, you face losing your home, your job, your children, and your freedom. Whether you’re guilty or not, the impact of being charged alone can be significant. Regardless of the circumstances that led to the alleged incident, every single individual facing a domestic violence charge is entitled to a strong legal defense.
Here at my firm, Allegheny Attorneys at Law, P.C., I represent clients in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and in Shaler, Ross, O’Hara, and Indiana Townships, Fox Chapel, Penn Hills, Oakmont Borough, and Aspinwall who have been charged with domestic violence-related crimes. If you have been accused or charged with one, I may be able to help.
How Does Pennsylvania Define Domestic Violence?
Pennsylvania law defines domestic violence as knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly causing bodily injury of any kind or causing reasonable fear of bodily injury, assault, whether sexual or not sexual, rape, indecent assault with or without a weapon, physically or sexually abusing minor children, false imprisonment, or knowingly engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts including stalking, which place the victim in reasonable fear of bodily injury.
There are no specific criminal statutes regarding domestic violence; however, violence committed against family or household members may result in harsher penalties. The crime may be considered a domestic violence misdemeanor or felony if the crime involved the use or attempted use of physical force or of a deadly weapon and was committed by a family or household member. This includes current or former spouses, people who have lived together as spouses, parents and children, others related by blood or marriage, current or former sexual partners, or people who have a child in common.
Assault can be defined as intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly inflicting bodily injury, attempting to or putting someone in reasonable fear of bodily injury. Battery is the willful touching of someone in an offensive or harmful way. If either of these is committed against a family or household member, you can be charged with domestic assault or domestic battery.
What Are the Consequences of Domestic Violence?
If convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense against a family or household member, you can face penalties related to the specific act — for example, aggravated battery or sexual assault. Potential consequences for conviction include:
Jail or prison incarceration
Completion of anger management and intervention treatment
Restraining order prohibiting you from seeing the victim
Loss of employment
Deportation if you are not a U.S. citizen
Registering as a sex offender if convicted of a sex crime
Are There Defenses Against Domestic Violence Charges?
An experienced criminal defense attorney will help you build a strong defense against any charges you’re up against. Three common defense approaches include:
An alleged victim can accuse someone of something they never did or embellish the actual event to make the alleged perpetrator appear to have committed a violent domestic act. If you’ve been involved in an incident that boils down to one person’s word against another, your domestic violence defense attorney may be able to help document evidence of the truth. Law enforcement and the courts may initially take the word of the alleged victim over yours and will take immediate steps to protect them until the facts of the case can be discerned.
If you inflicted bodily injury or even death upon the alleged victim while attempting to defend yourself against them, your attorney will work to prove self-defense. This can include text messages, e-mails, video footage, and any other evidence that can corroborate your need to defend yourself.
Lack of Intent
Injury to someone else without your intent can also serve as a legitimate defense. For example, you and your spouse have an argument. You leave the house and your spouse follows. You get into your car and your tires throw gravel in their face as you leave, causing bruising and other damage. A skilled defense attorney can argue that you had no intent to injure your spouse and attempt to have the charges dropped.
How an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
Being charged with any misdemeanor or felony offense can be serious, but if a family or household member is involved, the consequences could be even greater. Whether domestic violence charges are justified or not, you deserve to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side to provide the best defense possible.
Here at my firm, Allegheny Attorneys at Law, P.C., I am dedicated to defending clients charged with domestic violence and upholding their rights under the law. If you live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, or in Shaler, Ross, O’Hara, Indiana Townships, Fox Chapel, Penn Hills, Oakmont Borough, or Aspinwall and have been charged with domestic violence or a similar crime, call my office today to schedule a case consultation.
A conviction for a crime related to domestic violence can take away your freedom and everything else important in your life. Don’t risk your future by facing these charges on your own. Call my office today for help.