Taking Control: A Guide to the Legal System After Domestic Violence Charges

Domestic violence is a serious issue in Pennsylvania, including Chester County. It’s important to understand the legal definition and common types of charges that can arise from such accusations.

Definition of Domestic Violence Under Pennsylvania Law

Domestic violence in Pennsylvania refers to any abusive behavior used to control or harm a family member, partner, or household member. This can include physical violence, threats, harassment, and emotional abuse. The law provides legal remedies such as protective orders and criminal penalties to protect victims and hold offenders accountable.

Domestic Violence Lawyer

Common Types of Domestic Violence Charges

Several charges can result from domestic violence accusations, each with specific legal consequences:

Simple Assault: Involves causing or attempting to cause bodily injury to another person. In a domestic situation, this could mean hitting, pushing, or any physical contact intended to cause harm.

Aggravated Assault: A more serious charge, aggravated assault occurs when someone causes serious bodily injury intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly, often involving a weapon or resulting in significant harm.

Harassment: This charge includes behaviors such as following someone, making threats, or repeatedly contacting someone in a way that causes distress or fear.

Stalking: Involves repeatedly following or communicating with someone, causing them to fear for their safety.

Terroristic Threats: Making threats to commit violence with the intent to terrorize another person.

Sexual Assault: Includes any non-consensual sexual acts forced upon another person.

These charges carry different penalties, including fines, imprisonment, and long-term impacts on personal and professional life. If you are facing any of these charges, it is crucial to seek legal representation from a domestic violence lawyer or a domestic violence attorney near you.

Understanding these definitions and charges is essential for anyone involved in or accused of domestic violence, as it can significantly affect the outcome of your case and your future.

Long-Term Implications of Domestic Violence Accusations

Criminal Record Concerns

A conviction for domestic violence can result in a permanent criminal record. This record can include details of the charges, the court’s findings, and the penalties imposed. A criminal record can affect various aspects of your life, making it essential to seek the assistance of a domestic violence attorney to minimize these impacts.

Impact on Employment Opportunities

Having a domestic violence conviction on your record can significantly affect your employment opportunities. Many employers conduct background checks and may be reluctant to hire someone with a history of domestic violence. This can limit your career prospects and make it challenging to find or retain a job. Working with a domestic violence defense attorney can help you understand your rights and explore options to protect your employment status.

Effects on Gun Ownership Rights

In Pennsylvania, a domestic violence conviction can lead to the loss of your gun ownership rights. Federal and state laws prohibit individuals convicted of domestic violence offenses from purchasing or possessing firearms. This restriction can affect your ability to participate in activities that require firearms and impact personal protection measures. A knowledgeable domestic violence lawyer can help you navigate these legal restrictions and seek possible remedies.

The Legal Process for Domestic Violence Cases

Arrest and Booking Procedures

When the police respond to a domestic violence call, they may arrest the accused if they believe an offense has occurred. After the arrest, the individual is taken to a police station for booking. This process includes recording personal information, taking fingerprints, and photographing the accused. It is crucial to remain calm and cooperative during this process.

Preliminary Arraignment

The preliminary arraignment is the first court appearance after the arrest. During this hearing, the charges are formally read, and bail conditions are set. The court will also inform the accused of their right to an attorney. It is advisable to have a domestic violence defense attorney present to help navigate this initial stage.

Preliminary Hearing

At the preliminary hearing, the prosecution must show that there is enough evidence to proceed with the case. The defense can challenge the evidence and cross-examine witnesses. This hearing is crucial for determining whether the case will go to trial. A skilled lawyer for domestic violence can help identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and argue for the charges to be dismissed or reduced.

Pre-Trial Proceedings

During the pre-trial phase, both the defense and prosecution prepare their cases. This period may involve filing motions, exchanging evidence, and negotiating plea deals. A domestic violence attorney near you can provide guidance on whether accepting a plea deal is in your best interest or if proceeding to trial is a better option.

Trial Process

If the case goes to trial, both sides present their arguments, examine witnesses, and submit evidence. The judge or jury will then decide whether the accused is guilty or not guilty. A domestic violence attorney plays a critical role in presenting a strong defense, questioning the credibility of the prosecution’s evidence, and advocating for the best possible outcome.

Consequences of Domestic Violence Convictions

Criminal Penalties

The criminal penalties for domestic violence convictions can be severe. They may include:

Fines: Financial penalties can vary depending on the severity of the offense.

Imprisonment: Jail or prison sentences are common, especially for more serious offenses.

Probation: Instead of, or in addition to, imprisonment, the court may impose probation, which includes specific conditions that must be met.

The exact penalties depend on the specific charges and circumstances of the case. A domestic violence defense attorney can provide detailed information about the potential penalties and work to minimize them.

Impact on Child Custody and Visitation Rights

A domestic violence conviction can significantly impact your child’s custody and visitation rights. Family courts take these charges very seriously and may:

Restrict or Deny Custody: The court may determine that it is not in the best interest of the child to remain in the custody of the convicted parent.

Supervised Visitation: In some cases, the court may allow only supervised visitation to ensure the child’s safety.

These decisions can have long-lasting effects on your relationship with your children. It is crucial to have a domestic violence lawyer advocate for your parental rights during custody proceedings.

Professional and Personal Repercussions

The repercussions of a domestic violence conviction extend beyond legal penalties. They can include:

Employment Difficulties: Employers often perform background checks and might be reluctant to hire individuals with a domestic violence conviction, which can restrict job prospects and hinder career growth.

Housing Issues: Landlords may refuse to rent to individuals with a criminal record, making it difficult to find housing.

Social Stigma: A conviction can lead to social stigma, affecting personal relationships and community standing.

Alternative Resolution Options

Plea Bargains

A plea bargain is an agreement between the defendant and the prosecutor, where the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge or to one of multiple charges in exchange for a lighter sentence or other benefits. This option can:

Reduce Charges: You might be able to plead to a lesser offense, avoiding more severe penalties.

Lessen Sentences: A plea bargain often results in a more lenient sentence than if the case went to trial and resulted in a conviction.

Resolve Cases Faster: Plea bargains can expedite the legal process, providing quicker resolutions compared to a lengthy trial.

Diversionary Programs

Diversionary programs are alternatives to traditional criminal justice processes aimed at rehabilitation rather than punishment. These programs may include:

Pre-Trial Diversion Programs: These programs enable defendants to fulfill specific conditions, like participating in community service or attending counseling sessions, in return for the dismissal of their charges.

Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD): This program is designed for first-time offenders and can result in the expungement of the charges upon successful completion.

Participating in a diversionary program can help avoid a criminal record and provide an opportunity for personal growth and rehabilitation. A domestic violence attorney near you can guide you through the process of qualifying and applying for these programs.

Counseling and Rehabilitation

Courts may order or recommend counseling and rehabilitation as part of a resolution to domestic violence charges. This can include:

Anger Management Classes: Designed to help individuals learn how to control their anger and avoid violent behavior.

Substance Abuse Treatment: If alcohol or drugs played a role in the domestic violence incident, treatment programs can address these issues.

Domestic Violence Intervention Programs: These programs focus on educating offenders about the impact of domestic violence and teaching them healthier relationship skills.

Completing counseling and rehabilitation programs can demonstrate a commitment to change and may positively influence the outcome of your case. Working with a domestic violence lawyer can help you navigate these options and integrate them into your defense strategy.

The Role of a Domestic Violence Attorney

A domestic violence attorney is crucial for anyone facing charges of domestic violence. They offer valuable assistance and guidance throughout the legal process.

Why You Need a Domestic Violence Lawyer

Facing domestic violence accusations can be overwhelming. A lawyer specializing in domestic violence is well-versed in the intricacies of the legal system and the specific procedures for these types of charges in court. They are committed to safeguarding your legal rights from the moment the charges are brought against you.

A domestic violence lawyer develops a defense strategy tailored to your case, aiming to achieve the best possible outcome. They also have strong negotiation skills, which can be essential in discussions with prosecutors to reduce charges or explore alternative resolutions, such as plea bargains or diversionary programs.

How a Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Can Help

A domestic violence defense attorney provides several critical services that can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. They start by conducting a thorough evaluation of your case, examining all the details and evidence to identify any weaknesses or inconsistencies in the prosecution’s arguments.

Your attorney will represent you in all court proceedings, from arraignment to trial, ensuring that your defense is presented effectively. They assist in gathering and preserving evidence, including witness statements, communication records, and other relevant documentation that supports your case.

In some instances, your attorney might call on witnesses to provide testimony that strengthens your defense. Throughout the legal process, they will offer support, answer your questions, and keep you informed about the progress of your case.

Having a domestic violence defense attorney on your side can significantly improve your chances of a favorable outcome. Their understanding of the legal system and dedication to protecting your rights is vital in navigating the complexities of your case.

The Importance of Local Experience: Chester County Courts

When facing domestic violence charges, having an attorney with local experience in Chester County can be incredibly beneficial. Familiarity with the local legal system and its unique aspects can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.

Unique Aspects of West Chester, PA Legal System

The legal system in West Chester, PA, has its own set of procedures and practices. Local courts may have specific rules, and the way cases are handled can vary. Attorneys who regularly work in Chester County are well-versed in these nuances. They understand the preferences and tendencies of local judges and prosecutors, which can be advantageous when building your defense strategy. This local knowledge helps in navigating the court system more efficiently and effectively.

Benefits of Hiring a Local Domestic Violence Lawyer

Hiring a local domestic violence lawyer offers several key benefits:

Familiarity with Local Laws: A lawyer from the area will have a deep understanding of Pennsylvania’s domestic violence laws and how they are applied in Chester County.

Relationships with Court Personnel: Local attorneys often have established relationships with court personnel, including judges and prosecutors. These relationships can facilitate smoother negotiations and more favorable outcomes.

Accessibility: Being local means your attorney can be more accessible for meetings and court appearances, providing timely updates and support throughout your case.

Reputation and Track Record: A local lawyer with a strong track record in defending domestic violence cases in Chester County can be a valuable asset. Their reputation can positively influence the perception of your case.

Choosing a domestic violence lawyer with local experience ensures that you have someone who knows the ins and outs of the Chester County legal system. This local expertise can be crucial in navigating your case and working towards the best possible outcome.

Why Choose DiCindio Law for Domestic Violence Defense

Choosing the right legal representation is crucial when facing domestic violence charges. DiCindio Law, LLC offers several advantages for those in need of a domestic violence defense attorney in West Chester, PA.

Experience as a Domestic Violence Defense Attorney in West Chester, PA

Mike DiCindio, the founder of DiCindio Law, has extensive experience as a domestic violence defense attorney. His deep understanding of the legal system in West Chester, PA, allows him to navigate complex cases effectively. This experience is invaluable in developing strong defense strategies tailored to the specific circumstances of each case.

Track Record of Successful Defenses in Chester County

DiCindio Law has a proven track record of achieving favorable outcomes for clients facing domestic violence charges in Chester County. This success is a testament to the firm’s dedication and skill in handling such cases. Clients can feel confident knowing they have a lawyer who has consistently delivered positive results.

Compassionate and Comprehensive Legal Representation

At DiCindio Law, clients receive compassionate and comprehensive legal representation. The firm understands the emotional and personal challenges that come with domestic violence accusations and provides supportive guidance throughout the legal process. Every case is handled with the utmost care and attention to detail.

Advantage of Mike Being a Former Chester County Prosecutor

One unique advantage of choosing DiCindio Law is Mike DiCindio’s background as a former Chester County prosecutor. This experience gives him valuable insights into how the prosecution builds its cases and what strategies it may employ. This perspective allows him to anticipate and counteract the prosecution’s tactics effectively, giving clients a significant edge in their defense.

Domestic Violence Charges


Domestic violence cases are complex and carry serious consequences. The legal process involves numerous steps, from arrest and booking procedures to potential long-term impacts on your personal and professional life. Understanding these complexities is crucial for anyone facing such charges.

Experienced legal representation is essential in navigating these challenges. A knowledgeable domestic violence attorney can provide the necessary guidance and support to protect your rights and work towards a favorable outcome. With their understanding of the legal system and ability to develop effective defense strategies, they can make a significant difference in your case.

If you are facing domestic violence charges, it is important to seek legal help promptly. Contact DiCindio Law at (610) 991-7860 or email mike@dicindiolaw.com for professional legal assistance. Their experience and commitment to comprehensive legal representation can provide the support you need during this difficult time.