7 Frequently Asked Questions About PA Domestic Violence Laws
Domestic violence is a serious crime in Pennsylvania. Both the victims and perpetrators of this crime often have questions regarding the the crime, including the definition of domestic violence, potential consequences, and how to protect themselves. Keep reading to learn more from the attorney at Marinaro Law Firm.
- In Pennsylvania, domestic violence is broadly defined to include causing or attempting to cause physical harm, placing another in reasonable fear of imminent harm, or using physical force against a family member or current or former sexual partner without their consent.
- Common types of domestic violence cases involve physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse.
- You can be arrested on a domestic violence charge without making physical contact with your partner.
- A PFA (Protection From Abuse) order is a civil court order that protects domestic violence victims from the alleged abuser.
- The alleged victim cannot drop the case once an arrest has been made, as it is up to the prosecutor to proceed.
After a fight with your partner, you find yourself being accused of domestic violence. Perhaps it was following a heated argument, or maybe the accusation came out of the blue. Regardless, law enforcement was called, and you’re now under scrutiny, facing potential legal repercussions and a stigma that could affect your reputation. You’re left wondering what steps to take next, and your questions about this situation can remain unanswered for the time being.
When someone accuses you of domestic abuse, it’s important to handle it with knowledge and caution. In that moment, staying calm and avoiding confrontations is crucial. Remember, allegations of domestic violence are serious and can have severe consequences if proven true. Even with the help of a criminal defense attorney, Pennsylvania domestic violence charges could include imprisonment, fines, anger management courses, and a criminal record.
In this blog post, we will discuss common frequently asked questions about PA domestic violence laws, what happens when you are accused of a domestic violence crime, and other important information you will need to take the right steps towards ensuring you are legally protected.
1. What Is Considered to Be Domestic Violence in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, under the Protection From Abuse Act, domestic violence is defined broadly to include causing or attempting to cause physical harm, placing another in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury, or using physical force against a family member or current or former sexual partner without their consent. This crime could also include causing or attempting to cause bodily injury with unwanted sexual assault or sexual abuse against someone non-consensually.
It may involve various forms, including physical abuse, emotional, psychological, and sexual. Importantly, this law could apply to a family member or other person living in the same home as you, a current or former sexual or intimate partner, and those who share biological parenthood. Remember that each case is unique, and the court will consider the specific facts when deciding whether an act is considered domestic violence.
2. What Are the Most Common Domestic Violence Cases in PA?
The most common types of domestic violence cases in Pennsylvania often involve physical or sexual abuse and emotional or psychological abuse.
Physical Abuse Domestic Violence Crimes
Physical abuse cases can include a range of violent acts such as hitting, slapping, or pushing an intimate partner or family member. It may also involve the use of weapons or other objects to inflict harm.
Sexually Abusive Domestic Violence
Sexually abusive domestic violence crimes can include rape, sexual assault, and other forms of non-consensual sexual acts. This crime could also include coercive behaviors such as forcing someone into unwanted sexual activities.
Emotional Abuse Laws in Pennsylvania for Domestic Violence
Emotional or psychological abuse can include behaviors such as gaslighting, manipulation, verbal insults, and threats. Emotional abuse laws in Pennsylvania are just as strict as physical assault since these actions can have a long-lasting impact on the victim’s well-being and self-esteem.
3. Can I Be Arrested on Domestic Abuse Charges Without Making Physical Contact With My Partner?
Yes, you can be arrested on domestic violence charges without making physical contact with your partner. Under Pennsylvania law, causing or attempting to cause physical harm is not the only form of domestic violence. Any act that causes fear of bodily injury, including emotional or verbal abuse, or uses physical force against a family member or current or former sexual partner without their consent could result in a domestic violence conviction.
4. What Happens to Me After a Domestic Violence Arrest in PA & What Can I Expect?
After being arrested on a domestic violence charge in Pennsylvania, you will likely be taken to the police station for booking and processing. You may be held in custody until your arraignment, which is when you will learn about the specific charges against you.
It’s essential to remember that any statements or admissions made during this process can be used against you in court. It’s best to remain silent and speak with a domestic violence attorney before answering any questions.
You can expect to have a bail hearing where the court will determine whether you will be released on bail or held until your criminal case trial. If you are released from prison, depending on the hearing, you may be required to follow certain conditions, such as staying away from the alleged victim or attending anger management classes.
5. What Is a PFA Order in Pennsylvania?
A PFA (Protection From Abuse) order is a civil court order that protects domestic violence victims from their alleged abusers. It may also include specific provisions, such as prohibiting them from contacting or being near the victim.
If you are facing a PFA order, it’s essential to take it seriously and follow its terms. Violating a PFA order can result in criminal charges and penalties.
6. Can the Alleged Victim Drop a Domestic Violence Case In Pennsylvania?
Under PA domestic violence laws, the alleged victim cannot stop a domestic violence case. Once an arrest has been made, it’s up to the prosecutor to decide whether to pursue it and have you face domestic violence charges or not. Even if the alleged victim recants their statement or refuses to cooperate with the prosecution, the case may still proceed.
7. What Penalties and Sentencing Guidelines Are Associated With Pennsylvania Domestic Violence Convictions?
In Pennsylvania, the charges associated with a domestic violence crime can vary widely, depending on the severity of the act and the circumstances surrounding it. Here are some of the most common charges:
- Simple Assault: A second-degree misdemeanor charge resulting from physical violence. Conviction can lead to up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
- Aggravated Assault: This is a more serious offense, typically a second-degree felony, which involves causing serious bodily harm. The punishment for Aggravated Assault may include up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
- Harassment: This includes repeated acts of annoyance or alarm, like following someone in public or persistently communicating with them against their will. Harassment is typically charged as a third-degree misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
- Stalking: This behavior pattern instills fear for one’s safety. Stalking is a first-degree misdemeanor and, if convicted, can result in up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Sexual Assault or Rape: These serious offenses involve non-consensual sexual acts and carry severe penalties. Convictions can result in many years, or even life, in prison and significant fines.
- Violation of a Protection from Abuse order: Disregarding a court-issued PFA order can lead to criminal contempt charges, which can result in jail time and fines.
Please note that this list is not exhaustive, and the exact charges and penalties can vary based on the specific circumstances of each case.
If You’re Being Accused of Domestic Violence and Need a Criminal Defense Attorney, Marinaro Law Firm Is Here
Being accused of violent crimes like domestic violence can be challenging to navigate without the help of an experienced attorney. At Marinaro Law Firm, we’re here to help you navigate Pennsylvania law and ensure your case is heard fairly. If you’re ready to talk with our legal team about your domestic violence arrest, contact us today.
- Title 101 Chapter 15 101 Pa. Code § 15.66. Offenses and penalties.
- Title 18 – Chapter 1. General Provisions; § 106. Classes of offenses.
- Title 18 – Crimes and Offenses, Chapter 27. Assault; § 2702. Aggravated assault.
- Title 18 – Crimes and Offenses, Chapter 27. Assault; § 2701. Simple assault.
- Title 18 – Crimes and Offenses, Chapter 27. Assault; § 2709. Harassment.
- Title 18 – Crimes and Offenses, Chapter 27. Assault; § 2709.1. Stalking.