No one would object to the intentions of the law in the protecting of vulnerable members of a family in a situation in which potential domestic violence is present. The various crimes which come under the umbrella of domestic violence are treated very seriously by the Pennsylvania legal system and by law enforcement agencies in this state for good reason. However, there are sometimes situations in which people can be accused of domestic violence because of a dispute over divorce, child custody issues or some other reason, in which the ability to make accusations without eye witnesses could mean someone falsely accused or their actions is distorted or exaggerated.
If you have been accused of domestic violence, you may need an effective and dedicated criminal defense attorney to help you defend your constitutional rights. A good defense attorney can ensure you get a verdict which you deserve and no more. A conviction for any one of several possible domestic violence offenses for which you are either innocent can affect you for the rest of your life.
What Exactly is Meant by Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence involves the use of intimidation, threats or actual physical violence against another member of the same family. In fact, there is no one single offense in Pennsylvania law of domestic violence. There are a number of separate offenses which are linked by the fact that one member of a family is harming one or more others. Some examples of domestic violence are given below.
- Child abuse
- Criminal trespass
- Domestic assault
- Endangering the welfare of children
- Sexual assault
- Violation of protective order
A Wider Definition of Family
Domestic violence is not just confined to crimes of violence within the traditional nuclear family. It is also used to describe violence between cohabiting partners, former partners, former spouses and anyone who can be said to be related in some way by blood or marriage.
Penalties for Domestic Violence Offenses
Penalties for these offenses vary widely and depend heavily on an interpretation by the court of what exactly has been happening, often with limited real evidence and what might be based on victim statements. For example, sexual assault, which is defined as sexual intercourse without the consent of one of the participants, or sexual intercourse with someone who is unable to give consent, is regarded as a second degree felony with five to ten years in jail and a fine of up to $25,000. Child abuse, an offense in which the welfare of a child is knowingly put in danger by a parent or guardian, is considered either a first degree misdemeanor or a third degree felony, depending on how seriously the child has been abused. Fines range from $10,000 to $ 15,000 and a conviction will also mean a 2.5 to 7 year jail sentence, depending on the classification of the offense.
Get a Fair Hearing With the Help of a York PA Defense Attorney
Because of the difficulties in making a ruling about who is to blame in a domestic violence case, it is quite possible for the accused to be wrongly convicted or be given much harsher penalties than he or she deserves. The only way to guarantee a fair hearing is to hire an experienced Domestic Violence defense attorney who has handled many of these sorts of cases before.
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