Were you recently arrested or charged with domestic violence in Chester County, PA? You could face financial penalties, a restraining order, and even jail time. Call DiCindio Law at (610) 430-3535, our West Chester domestic violence lawyers can fight to have your charges reduced or your case dismissed.
Our founding attorney is a former Chester County prosecutor with years of experience handling complex criminal cases. You can count on our lawyers to be aggressive in building the strong defense you need. Don’t wait until it’s too late to take action. Contact our law offices in West Chester, Pennsylvania to schedule a free consultation today.
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How DiCindio Law, LLC Can Help Me if I Was Arrested on Domestic Violence Charges in Chester County?
A domestic violence conviction can severely damage your life and reputation. There’s the potential for jail, probation, and financial penalties.
Moreover, domestic violence charges can interfere with family and child custody matters. A conviction can even prevent you from owning a gun or finding a good job.
At DiCindio Law, LLC, we believe that anyone accused of domestic abuse deserves an aggressive defense.
Our founding attorney has been fighting for clients in Pennsylvania courtrooms since 2010. Our team is led by a former prosecutor, so we know the criminal laws inside and out.
Our West Chester criminal lawyers are ready to put our experience to work for you by:
- Provide legal advice and guidance
- Conducting a full investigation into your case
- Locating evidence to build the strongest defense strategy possible
- Identifying any weaknesses in the prosecution’s case
- Negotiating behind the scenes to minimize the consequences of the criminal charge
- Helping you understand the impact of any plea bargain on the table
- Defending your rights before a judge and jury
An experienced Chester County criminal defense attorney can make a world of difference in your case. Call our offices to speak with an experienced attorney today to learn more about your legal options.
Overview of Domestic Violence Laws in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania domestic violence laws do not clearly define “domestic violence” as a crime. Instead, a person can be charged with domestic violence when they commit certain types of criminal offenses against a person with whom they share a “domestic relationship.”
In domestic violence cases, the prosecuting attorney must prove:
- You committed a crime listed in the domestic violence statute
- You were in a domestic relationship with the victim
“Domestic violence” isn’t treated as an independent offense. For example, if you’re accused of punching another person, you’ll likely be charged with assault. However, special considerations will come into play if you’re in a domestic relationship with the alleged victim.
For example, Pennsylvania police are required to make an arrest any time someone calls the police to report abuse in the household. The victim can’t later decide to drop the charges. Instead, it’s up to the prosecutor to decide whether to prosecute or drop the charges.
What Qualifies as a “Domestic Relationship”?
Under Pennsylvania law, domestic violence can happen against family members or members of the same household.
To qualify, the criminal act must have been committed against:
- Family members, including spouses, children, or parents;
- A member of the defendant’s household, including roommates;
- Someone with whom the defendant shared a romantic or sexual relationship;
- A current or former dating partner; or
- A biological parent of the defendant’s child
The laws in Pennsylvania define the term “domestic relationship” broadly. If you’ve been accused of a crime, an experienced Chester County criminal defense attorney can help.
Your lawyer will determine whether prosecutors have a valid case for domestic violence. Just call our law firm to schedule a free case evaluation to learn more about how we can help.
What is “Domestic Abuse”?
Police can arrest you for domestic violence if they believe you have committed any of the following offenses against a family member or household member:
- Simple assault
- Aggravated assault
- Any sex crime, including rape, indecent assault, or sexual assault
- False imprisonment
- Involuntary manslaughter
- Terroristic threats
- Reckless endangerment
- Physical or sexual abuse of minor children
- Any act that places the person in reasonable fear of imminent bodily injury
- Knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury
When a crime is labeled as “domestic violence,” the penalties can be much more far-ranging than if the victim was not a member of your family or household.
What are the Penalties for Domestic Violence in Chester County, Pennsylvania?
The penalties for domestic violence can vary widely. The severity of the penalty will ultimately depend on the underlying crime and whether you have a prior criminal record. You could be charged with committing a misdemeanor or a felony.
The Pennsylvania sentencing guidelines provide the following basic penalties if you’re convicted of a crime involving domestic violence:
- Summary offense: between zero and 90 days in jail and up to $250 in fines
- Third-degree misdemeanor: 90 days in jail and up to $5,000 in fines
- Second-degree misdemeanor: two years in jail and up to $5,000 in fines
- First-degree misdemeanor: five years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines
- Third-degree felony: seven years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines
- Second-degree felony: ten years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines
You could also be ordered to attend anger management classes or counseling. Ultimately, the punishment you face will depend on the severity of the crime and whether there has been a pattern of abuse.
Order of Protection From Abuse (PFA Orders)
Pennsylvania courts also have the authority to grant a temporary or permanent restraining order in situations involving domestic violence.
The court can grant a temporary restraining order (TRO) without any type of hearing. However, within ten days, a judge must hold a hearing to determine whether the temporary order should become final.
The judge can draft the restraining order to include any provisions that might reasonably prevent abuse.
For example, a restraining order could:
- Prohibit you from committing acts of abuse against the petitioner
- Prohibit you from having any contact with the victim or minor children
- Grant sole custody of your children to someone else
- Order you to move out of a home you shared with the alleged victim
- Require you to continue paying financial and child support to the victim and your children
- Prevent you from possessing a firearm
- Require you to pay for any financial losses incurred by the victim because of the abuse, including medical bills and relocation costs
The penalties for violating a protective order are harsh. Under Pennsylvania law, the police can arrest you without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe you have violated the restraining order.
You could face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for violating the terms of the order.
Once a restraining order becomes final, its provisions can last for up to three years. These orders can interfere with your life in unexpected ways. If you’ve been accused of domestic abuse, it’s always important to have a strong defense lawyer on your side.
Call DiCindio Law, LLC for a free initial consultation today to learn more about how our lawyers in West Chester can protect your legal rights.
What Defenses Can Be Raised if I’m Accused of Domestic Violence?
Allegations of domestic abuse can happen in any number of situations. The fact is, those allegations aren’t always accurate. You don’t have to simply accept the accuser’s accusations. Instead, call an experienced defense lawyer who can build the strong legal defense you deserve.
Our experienced attorneys at DiCindio Law, LLC may be able to raise several defenses to your domestic violence charge, including:
- Lack of evidence to prove the defendant committed the underlying crime
- Self-defense or defense of another person
- False allegations
- Alibi defense
- Lack of intent to commit a crime or abuse
- Constitutional violations, including illegally obtained statements, illegal searches and seizures, and suppression of evidence
- Lack of evidence to support a final protective order
Unfortunately, false allegations of domestic violence are common. Our lawyers may be able to expose factual inconsistencies or highlight your accuser’s motive to lie.
In some situations, plaintiffs claim that they were abused to win custody of a child or convince the defendant to agree to a divorce settlement.
Every case is unique. The best defense strategy will ultimately depend on the facts of your case.
Are you ready to learn more about how an experienced attorney can protect you if you’ve been charged with a crime? Call our law offices to schedule a free case evaluation today.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Chester County Domestic Violence Lawyer
Were you charged with a crime involving domestic violence in Chester County, PA? Call DiCindio Law, LLC today to speak with an experienced West Chester domestic violence lawyer today.
It’s never too early to take legal action to protect your rights. Our team represents clients in West Chester, Chester County, and Delaware County.