A spousal abuse conviction, or even mere accusations of domestic violence on a spouse, can carry serious legal consequences that can profoundly impact your life. If you’ve been arrested on domestic abuse-related charges in Pennsylvania, you need robust representation that understands the challenging legal landscape and fights for the best outcome for you.
Philadelphia, PA defense attorney Brian Zeiger is dedicated to building vigorous defenses, telling your side of the story and protecting your rights and dignity throughout the process. Don’t face these charges alone. Contact The Zeiger Firm today for a free and confidential consultation with an experienced domestic violence lawyer.
How a Lawyer Can Help Mount an Aggressive Defense for Spousal Abuse Charges
Domestic violence allegations are complicated and consequential, so a skilled defense attorney is a crucial partner as you navigate the choppy legal waters ahead. We can help you by:
- Investigating the allegations – We’ll thoroughly examine the evidence and circumstances surrounding the charges, uncovering any inconsistencies or inaccuracies that could benefit your case.
- Interpreting the statutes – We understand the nuances of Pennsylvania’s criminal code and can determine how the law might apply to your specific circumstances.
- Negotiating with prosecutors – Sometimes, plea deals or reduced charges are the best outcome for a client. We’ll handle pretrial negotiations with the prosecution to fight for a fair and favorable outcome.
- Preparing for trial – Your lawyer will work with subject matter experts to build a strong courtroom defense strategy. Our team aims to anticipate and combat any possible scenario with a stronger defense.
- Advocating for you in court – If your case goes to trial, we’ll present your arguments, aggressively defend your interests and rights, and object if the police or prosecution violates the rules.
Your lawyer’s role extends beyond mere legal representation. They’re your ally in a challenging time, committed to protecting a fair process, guiding you through the legal system, and providing support and clarity.
Definition of Spousal Abuse Under Pennsylvania Law
Spousal abuse is a form of domestic abuse. According to the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 23 § 6102, domestic and intimate partner violence encompasses a range of behaviors between:
- Married couples
- Divorced spouses
- People who live or have lived together as spouses
- Current or former sexual or intimate partners
- Unmarried persons who share a biological child
- Family members
These definitions apply regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity., so those in same-sex relationships fall within the purview of these laws.
Acts of Spousal Abuse
Any of the following acts are considered abuse under commonwealth law:
- Physical abuse or sexual violence – This includes physical violence, even if it does not cause physical injury. It also includes attempts or sexual acts that cause bodily harm. Crimes such as rape, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse (IDSI), sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, and indecent assault fall into this category.
- Threat of bodily injury – Threatening physical harm or placing someone in reasonable fear of imminent physical harm is considered abuse under the law.
- False imprisonment – False imprisonment involves unlawfully restraining someone against their will. It’s defined as an offense in Title 18 § 2903 of the Consolidated Statutes.
- Harassment and stalking – Conduct or acts toward a person that put them in fear of bodily injury or harm are considered abuse. However, this definition only applies to proceedings commenced under Title 23 of the Consolidated Statutes (Domestic Relations), not those initiated under Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses.)
Penalties for Spousal Abuse in Pennsylvania
If police receive reports of spousal abuse and if officers believe those accounts to be valid, they are required to make an arrest even without a warrant. It is ultimately up to the district attorney to press or decline to press charges. The alleged victim cannot elect to drop them.
The penalties for violating Pennsylvania spousal abuse law vary widely based on a number of factors, including:
- The severity of the alleged abusive behavior
- The defendant’s pattern of conduct
- The presence of aggravating factors (demonstrated lack of remorse or the use of a deadly weapon)
- The number of times a defendant was convicted of similar offenses
Some spousal abuse-related offenses are misdemeanors, while others are felonies. Your lawyer will explain the specific domestic abuse penalties in PA you might face, such as:
- Mandatory anger management courses
- Jail time
Convictions appear permanently on your criminal record and could result in consequences beyond the justice system, including:
- Restraining orders requiring you to move
- Loss of child custody
- Loss of firearm ownership rights
- Loss of employment and educational opportunities
- Loss of professional licenses
- Mandatory registration under Megan’s Law
- Ineligibility for federal student loans
Defenses to Spousal Abuse Charges
The right defense strategy can affect your case’s outcome turn. Your lawyer will consider the following legal defenses to spousal abuse charges:
- Self-defense – Your lawyer might argue you acted in self-defense if there is clear evidence of harm that the alleged victim posed toward you or if you were in immediate danger of such harm.
- False accusations – Defenses in a domestic violence case commonly involve challenging the accuser’s credibility, attempting to prove the accusations are fabricated, or that they were motivated by other outside factors. For example, one partner may make up or exaggerate claims to get a leg up in a custody or divorce case.
- Insufficient evidence – Your attorney will probe any weaknesses or gaps in the prosecution’s case that might provide insufficient proof to establish your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Consent – Consent can be a defense in specific legal contexts surrounding alleged sexual abuse, such as cases involving sexual contact. However, this is a complex area, and your lawyer must use careful consideration surrounding it.
Beyond a reasonable doubt is our legal system’s highest standard of proof. If the jury has even the slightest doubts about the evidence or finds an alternative to the prosecution’s story plausible, they must vote to acquit you.
Consult With a Philadelphia, PA Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you’ve been charged with domestic abuse of your spouse in Philadelphia, choosing the right attorney is crucial to pursuing the best outcome. Since 2005, Attorney Brian J. Zeiger has been committed to providing his clients with an “Aggressive and Experienced” brand of representation. Mr. Zeiger and his team take a tailored and meticulous approach to each client’s situation.
Don’t let spousal abuse charges define your future. Let us provide vigorous criminal defense for domestic violence in PA. Contact us today for a complimentary and confidential case review.