Your closest personal relationships can often have the most heated fights. Arguments with your spouse, child or significant other can become intense and passionate. Sometimes, the parties slip, just for a moment, into a physical altercation. Or, you might have to defend yourself, physically. Perhaps most painfully, your loved one may make accusations that are outright false, sometimes to gain an upper hand in divorce or child custody proceedings.
Domestic violence charges can stem from misunderstandings and false or exaggerated claims. Nevertheless, they have serious consequences. The ramifications of a domestic violence accusation can significantly affect your life, even if you are not convicted.
Philadelphia Domestic Violence Lawyer
If you are accused of abusing your spouse, child or other loved one, the Philadelphia domestic violence lawyers at Alva & Shuttleworth, LLC can fight for your rights. Domestic violence charges can be heartbreaking as you see the people you are closest to turn against you. Our defense lawyers will be on your side. Call us today at (215) 665-1695 to set up a consultation to discuss the accusations against you.
We represent people accused of domestic violence throughout the Philadelphia area, including in Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware, and Chester Counties.
Pennsylvania Domestic Violence Information Center
- Relationship Involving Domestic Violence Under Pennsylvania Law
- Common Charges in Philadelphia Domestic Violence Matters
- Protection from Abuse Order in Pennsylvania
Domestic violence is not a criminal charge separate from other charges, like assault or harassment. It is an accusation of one of several criminal offenses where the accused and the victim have a certain existing relationship. A domestic violence accusation carries certain civil penalties, in addition to any sentence that the underlying charge might carry.
Title 23, Section 6102 of the Consolidated Statutes of Pennsylvania defines the relationship under which a domestic violence accusation may occur. The victim and the alleged abuser may be spouses, ex-spouses, people who live together in an intimate relationship, people who have lived together, parents and children, current or former sexual partners, siblings, or people otherwise related by blood or marriage.
A number of different types of criminal accusations fit under the definition of "abuse" in domestic violence charges. Some of the more common include:
Intentionally causing or attempting to cause bodily harm, or putting a person in imminent fear of bodily harm can result in domestic assault charges. A simple assault charge can lead to second degree misdemeanor charges, carrying penalties of up to two years in jail and a $2,000 fine.
If there was serious bodily injury involved, the charges could be elevated to aggravated assault, a first degree felony, resulting in up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
The line between corporal punishment and assault is a murky one, but parents who discipline their children could find themselves accused of child abuse. An assault on a child could lead to jail for up to five years and a fine up to a $10,000.
Endangering the Welfare of a Child:
Endangering the welfare of a child means the accused knowingly endangered a child by violating a duty of care, protection or support. If a person is accused of drunk driving with a child in the car, doing drugs in front of a child, allowing the child to ride in an open-air vehicle without restraining the child, leaving the child in a car on a hot day, failing to seek medical attention for a child, or living in poor or squalid conditions with a child, he or she may face child endangerment charges.
Endangering the welfare of a child could result in first degree misdemeanor charges, which can lead to up to five years in jail and a $5,000 fine. However, if the prosecution can prove there was a pattern of behavior, the charges could become a third degree felony, which can result in up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Stalking means the accused repeatedly followed or communicated with the victim in a way that caused that person severe emotional stress and/or a reasonable fear of bodily injury.
Stalking can be a first degree misdemeanor, resulting in up to five years in jail and a $10,000 fine. If the accused was communicating messages to the victim, however, it becomes a third degree felony, punishable by up to seven years in jail and a $15,000 fine.
When domestic violence is alleged, the victim may seek a Protection from Abuse (PFA) Order. PFA Orders are intended to keep the alleged abuser from going anywhere near the victim. They can prohibit the accused from any contact with the victim, from coming within a certain distance of the victim, entering the school grounds where the victim or the victim's child attends, or going near the victim's place of work.
PFA Orders can also prohibit the accused form possessing a firearm, can remove any rights to child custody, and make any other provision the judge determines is necessary to protect the victim.
Unlike a conviction for domestic violence, there is no requirement for proof beyond a reasonable doubt. There will be a PFA hearing, where your Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer can represent you to explain to the judge why there is not cause for such an order.
While a PFA may be a civil matter, violating the terms of one can result in criminal charges. Contempt of a PFA Order can result in up to 6 months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.
Domestic Abuse Attorney in Philadelphia, PA
If you are accused of domestic violence, the Philadelphia domestic violence lawyers at Alva & Shuttleworth, LLC will fight for you. You can have experienced, skilled attorneys to help you aggressively fight the charges. We represent those facing family violence charges throughout the greater metropolitian Philadelphia area, including in Montgomery, Chester, Bucks, and Delaware Counties. Call us today at (215) 665-1695 to set up a consultation.