Domestic violence can occur in several different circumstances. While many domestic violence cases begin with a person hurting a family member or spouse, there are other factors that law enforcement may consider when investigating a domestic violence dispute. If you were arrested for a domestic violence offense, contact an experienced Philadelphia domestic abuse defense lawyer. The Law Office of Lloyd Long understands that every person is prone to make mistakes, and we are here to help you manage your criminal case. Our firm is here to explain whether verbal abuse amounts to domestic violence in Pennsylvania.
When is Verbal Abuse Considered Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is a violent act that is committed against a family member, intimate partner or spouse, or a person the defendant shares a child with. Domestic violence can manifest in several different forms. For example, if a person strikes their spouse and causes them a serious injury, this is considered domestic violence. Other examples of domestic violence include:
- Rape or sexual assault
- Physical abuse of a child
- Preventing a spouse or family member from leaving the home or a certain area of the home (false imprisonment)
- Instilling fear in a family member who then believes they are in danger of being attacked
- Simple or aggravated assault
- Stalking or harassment
A domestic violence offense is typically tied to some underlying crime. In the case of verbal domestic abuse, the underlying crime may be terroristic threats. A terroristic threat is when a person communicates to another that they intend to commit some form of violence upon them to frighten the victim. For example, promising to assault a family member with a baseball bat may qualify as a terroristic threat.
If verbal abuse of a family member does not include threats of violence or does not make the family member believe they are about to be assaulted, this can mean that the defendant’s comments did not amount to a domestic violence crime.
When dealing with a domestic violence case, the individual who called law enforcement often begins at a better position than the alleged abuser. In a domestic violence situation, law enforcement has the power to make an arrest against an abuser as long as they have probable cause that someone has been abused or some other type of corroborative evidence.
Probable cause can be an officer noticing that a victim has a recent physical injury that was likely caused by the defendant. When investigating claims of verbal abuse, a police officer will have to rely on other evidence. For example, if the defendant was waving a weapon at a spouse when law enforcement arrived or if various objects or furniture in the home have been knocked over, this can support a claim of verbal and physical abuse.
To learn more about how verbal abuse can connect to domestic violence, continue reading and speak with an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer today.
Criminal Penalties for Domestic Abuse
What happens if you are charged with harassment in Pennsylvania or another crime that falls under the domestic abuse umbrella? The criminal penalties for domestic abuse can vary greatly depending on the circumstances of the case. The reason for varying penalties is that domestic violence does not refer to a single crime but a wide range of crimes. For example, as a first degree misdemeanor, a conviction for terroristic threats carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and $10,000 in criminal fines.
If a defendant is charged with more serious crimes, a domestic violence dispute can even result in up to 20 years in prison depending on the underlying crime. Even the crime of terroristic threats can be upgraded to a felony under certain circumstances.
It is important to note that there are other consequences that can accompany a domestic violence claim. One possibility is the victim files for a protection from abuse (PFA) order. This court order would require the alleged abuser to refrain from all contact with the victim and to remain a certain distance away from the victim. This means the alleged abuser may have to move out of the home they share with the victim.
Additionally, if the defendant threatened the victim with a firearm or other weapon, these weapons will be confiscated by law enforcement. In the case of a firearm, the defendant may be barred from legally owning a firearm due to the crime and the PFA order.
Our Experienced Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney is Ready to Work with You
If you are facing criminal charges for domestic violence, you should consult with an experienced Philadelphia felony defense attorney. With over a decade of criminal law experience, criminal defense attorney Lloyd Long is ready to help you pursue a desirable outcome to your case. Our firm avoids litigating a large volume of cases so that we can provide you with the unique legal representation you need. To schedule a free legal consultation to discuss your criminal case, contact the Law Office of Lloyd Long at (215) 809-3946, or contact us online.