Domestic violence is unique in that it is not considered a separate crime in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from other assaults or crimes. However, the distinction that an act was domestic can be important for other issues, such as orders of protection, custody cases, or future employment prohibitions.

Domestic violence involves the use of intimidation, threats of violence, or actual physical violence against a family member. This definition also encompasses violence or threats of violence directed toward:

  • Former spouses
  • Girlfriends
  • Boyfriends
  • Significant others
  • Children
  • Parents

The penalties for domestic violence convictions in Pennsylvania can be severe and may range from mandatory anger management classes to long periods of incarceration. Domestic violence charges may also be prosecuted as felonies or as misdemeanors, depending on the severity of the alleged abuse, the number of prior offenses against the same victim, and whether or not the defendant exhibited a pattern of harmful conduct.

If you have been charged with domestic violence in Pennsylvania, criminal defense attorney Brian J. Zeiger can meet with you to discuss your case and help you formulate legal defenses to your charge.

Criminal Charges Commonly Associated with Domestic Violence

In Pennsylvania, domestic violence is not prosecuted as a separate charge. The following crimes are most often associated with domestic violence:

  • Child abuse
  • Violation of probation (VOP)
  • Stalking
  • Criminal trespass
  • Domestic assault
  • Kidnapping
  • Sexual assault

Domestic Violence Protective Orders

An alleged domestic violence victim may file for a protective or restraining order against the defendant. A protective order is a binding court order that is signed by a judge and restricts a defendant’s activities with respect to the alleged victim. For example, a judge may order the defendant to stay away from the alleged victim’s residence or place of business or to stay away from the parties’ minor children while the protective order is pending.

If the defendant violates the protective order, a judge could find the defendant in contempt and impose further sanctions and penalties.

In addition to filing for a protective order, an alleged victim could also file a civil lawsuit against the defendant in Pennsylvania, seeking monetary compensation and civil damages. In most civil cases, injured plaintiffs seek compensation for medical bills, as well as for past, present, and future pain and suffering.

Finally, an alleged victim may move for modification of a custody or child support order that had previously been put in place. For example, the alleged victim may file a motion with the court to modify the current custody order that is in place, thereby restricting the defendant’s visitation rights with the parties’ minor children.

Potential Defenses Raised in Domestic Violence Cases

Domestic violence and assault charges are very serious and can result in harsh penalties being imposed against the defendant. Fortunately, however, several defenses are available to defendants who have been charged with domestic violence crimes, including the following:    

  • Lack of knowledge
  • Lack of criminal intent
  • Lack of violence
  • Insanity
  • Provocation by the alleged victim
  • Intoxication
  • Self-defense

Contact a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Domestic Violence Criminal Defense Lawyer Today to Discuss your Case

If you have been charged with a crime of domestic violence, criminal defense lawyer Brian J. Zeiger can review the facts and circumstances of your case with you, gather the necessary evidence, and formulate legal defenses to your charge.

To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania domestic violence criminal defense lawyer, please call us or contact us online. 

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