Whether you might be charged with a domestic violence or non-domestic violence offense depends on the relationship between you and the alleged victim. A broad variety of offenses can be charged as domestic violence offenses, and Pennsylvania does not have a separately defined crime called domestic violence. Here is some information from DiCindio Law to help you understand the difference between domestic violence and assault in Pennsylvania.
What Is Non-Domestic Violence?
Non-domestic violence can occur if you intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly try to injury someone or actually injure him or her. It also includes situations in which you physically intimidate another person to try to cause him or her to fear that you will imminently injure him or her.
Non-domestic violence can include simple assault, aggravated assault, or other violent crimes that are not perpetrated against members of your household or those with whom you have or have had certain types of relationships.
Domestic Violence In Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania does not define domestic violence as a separate crime. Instead, any offense can be a crime of domestic violence when you perpetuate it against one of the following people:
- Your spouse or ex-spouse
- Your child
- Someone with whom you share a child
- Someone with whom you currently cohabit or have in the past
- Another person who you are related to by blood or affinity
What Is Domestic Assault?
Domestic assault is the most commonly charged crime of domestic violence. You can be charged with assault if you threaten physical injury or cause physical injury to someone else. If the person against whom you have made threats or have injured has one of the previously described relationships with you, then the offense will be considered to be a crime of domestic violence.
A domestic violence assault can be charged as a simple assault or aggravated assault. Simple assault is generally a second-degree misdemeanor while aggravated assault is a first- or second-degree felony, depending on what occurred. If you are charged with simple or aggravated assault as a domestic violence offense, you will face the penalties for the underlying charge. For a second-degree misdemeanor simple assault, the maximum penalties include up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. A first-degree felony aggravated assault carries up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. A second-degree felony aggravated assault carries up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
If you are convicted of a domestic violence assault, the court can also sentence you to attend domestic violence classes. Domestic violence convictions also can result in you losing your right to own or possess firearms under federal law. You also might be ordered to attend domestic violence classes and have your ability to communicate with the victim restricted. Finally, people who are convicted of domestic assault might lose custody of their children or have restrictions placed on their visitation rights.
What Is Non-Domestic Violence Assault?
Non-domestic violence assault is an assault offense against someone other than a person with whom you have a domestic relationship, including a stranger, co-worker, or acquaintance. You can be charged with simple assault if you intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause or attempt to cause someone else to suffer bodily injury. You can also be charged with simple assault if you physically menace someone and cause him or her to fear that you will imminently injure him or her. Simple assault also includes situations in which you negligently injure someone else with a deadly weapon or when you try to hide a hypodermic needle that then injures a police officer, jail officer, or mental health facility staff who is searching you.
How Can An Attorney Help?
Being convicted of a domestic violence offense can have serious repercussions on your life. For example, you might lose custody of your child or lose your visitation rights. People with domestic violence convictions also frequently have trouble finding employment and might be fired from their jobs. People who are lawful permanent residents might be deported.
When you meet with your lawyer at DiCindio Law, he will carefully review the reports and evidence to identify the best defense strategies to implement.
Some of the types of defenses that might be available include the following:
- Alibi defense
- False accusations
- Insufficient evidence
In some cases, there will be little evidence beyond the statements made by the alleged victim. People sometimes falsely accuse others of domestic violence to try to get revenge or to gain an advantage in a child custody or divorce case. If that has happened in your case, your attorney will want to review your child custody or divorce paperwork to try to understand the alleged victim’s motivation for making the accusation against you.
The police also sometimes get people to make incriminating statements during custodial interrogations. If the police try to question you, you should assert your right to remain silent and to have an attorney. If you did submit to questioning and made incriminating statements, your attorney will review the video to determine whether the police properly gave the Miranda warnings, whether they persisted in questioning you after you asked to speak to an attorney or asserted your right to remain silent, and whether they used coercive tactics while interrogating you. If the police did any of these things, your attorney can file a motion with the court asking it to suppress any incriminating statements you made during your interrogation.
Get Help From An Experienced Defense Lawyer
If you are facing charges involving allegations of domestic violence, you should speak to a criminal defense attorney at DiCindio Law as soon as possible. If you are convicted of a domestic violence offense, it can negatively affect many areas of your life and your reputation in the community. Call us today to schedule a consultation at (610) 430-3535.