Domestic Violence

Defending Against Pennsylvania Domestic Violence Charges

Close relationships can sometimes provoke the most intense fights, with one or both partners acting out violently. Sometimes one partner might make a false accusation in order to gain the upper hand in divorce or child custody proceedings. Domestic violence accusations are taken very seriously in Levittown, Langhorne, and throughout Bucks County. Both the violence and the subsequent criminal proceedings can tear families apart. Because the potentially severe impact of an accusation of domestic violence, it is important to consult a knowledgeable and compassionate Bucks County domestic violence attorney.

What Counts as Domestic Violence in Pennsylvania?

In Levittown and elsewhere in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, domestic violence is not a separate criminal charge. Rather, it is an accusation that the accuser committed one of various criminal offenses where the accuser and the victim have a specific relationship that gives rise to additional protection and penalties under the law. Civil penalties attach to the domestic violence accusation, but the underlying charge may carry significant criminal penalties.

Under Title 23, Section 6102 of the Consolidated Statutes of Pennsylvania, a victim can allege domestic violence if an alleged abuser is a spouse, ex-spouse, someone with whom he or she is living in an intimate relationship, person with whom he or she previously lived intimately, parents and children, current or former sexual partners, and others related by blood or marriage.

Is Probable Cause Required in Domestic Violence Arrests?

Under 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2711, the police must have probable cause to arrest someone for domestic violence. An officer has the same right of arrest without a warrant as he has in a felony if he has probable cause to believe the defendant has violated the statutes related to involuntary manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment, terroristic threats, or stalking, even if these didn't happen in front of him. However an officer cannot arrest someone in connection with domestic violence without first observing that the victim has recent physical injuries or some other kind of corroboration of the victim's claims.

A defendant arrested for domestic violence is given the opportunity for a preliminary arraignment. However, the arresting officer cannot release the defendant from custody without taking the defendant to an issuing authority.

The issuing authority will decide whether the defendant presents a threat of danger to the victim in order to determine whether releasing the defendant on bail is appropriate. If the issuing authority decides there is no threat of danger, it must require as a condition of bail that a defendant refrain having contact with the alleged victim including returning to the victim's house or residence or place of employment and also refrain from committing further criminal action against the victim. If a defendant does not adhere to this condition of bail, the bail shall be forfeited and the defendant may be incarcerated.

Contact a Bucks County Domestic Violence Lawyer

Experienced Bucks County domestic violence lawyer John M. Kenney can offer clear, honest advice about the charges and their impact on your family. A conviction for a crime associated with domestic violence may carry collateral consequences for family law proceedings. As such, it is important to retain someone who understands your situation and has the skill and tenacity to provide a strong defense. Mr. Kenney will work hard to develop the best defense strategy for Levittown domestic violence charges. He serves clients in Bristol, Morrisville, Fairless Hills, Yardley, Langhorne and throughout Bucks County, Pennsylvania. For a free initial consultation, contact our office at (215) 547-3031 or by completing our online form.