Bucks County Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer
Every crime is serious, but police and prosecutors take crimes of domestic violence especially seriously. Accusations of domestic violence can not only lead to your arrest, but to the sullying of your character and reputation in the community. Penalties for convictions can be very severe, including harsh jail sentences. Being charged with domestic violence can be overwhelming, confusing, and make you feel like the system is working against you.
At The Law Offices of Lloyd Long, our compassionate Bucks County domestic violence defense lawyers have years of experience fighting for those accused of domestic violence to have their side of the story told. We will leave no stone unturned as we work to protect your rights and get the charges against you downgraded or dismissed. For a free consultation, call our firm today at (215) 302-0171.
Definition of Domestic Violence in Bucks County
Domestic violence is not actually one, single charge in the state of Pennsylvania. Instead, there are many different charges that could be classified as domestic violence. In fact, the charge does not even have to relate to actual, physical violence. Things such as harassment or inappropriate touching that are non-violent or sexual in nature can classify as domestic violence under Pennsylvania law.
The common denominator amongst these charges classified as domestic violence is that the alleged victim shares some sort of close or special relationship with the accused. This could be a family relationship, such as a mother assaulting her child, a romantic relationship, such as abuse between two partners, or a relationship between cohabitants such as roommates. In certain situations, ex-partners and ex-roommates can be charged with domestic violence as well.
A domestic violence classification means that the case will be handled differently in some ways and that more harsh penalties, such as higher fines and longer jail sentences, may apply if convicted. Some of the more common underlying charges that constitute domestic violence if they happen between certain people include the following:
- Aggravated assault
- Endangering the welfare of a child
- False imprisonment
- Reckless endangerment
- Sexual assault
- Simple assault
- Terroristic threats
How a Domestic Violence Complaint is Handled in Bucks County
When the police receive a report of domestic violence, if they find probable cause exists to believe violence occurred against another member of the household, they can arrest you without a warrant. After your arrest, you will be taken to the local police station to undergo the booking process. This process includes the police fingerprinting you, photographing you, collecting your biographical information, and inventorying any items you had on you person at the time of you arrest. When booking is complete, you will be taken to a holding cell in the station or the local detention center until you can appear before a judge for a preliminary arraignment, which must occur within 72 hours.
Most of the time, the preliminary arraignment also serves as a bail hearing where the judge will decide if you can be released and what amount bail should be set at. These hearings often occur over a videoconferencing system where you are conferenced into the courtroom to face the judge. There is no guarantee to an attorney at this hearing, but it is smart to have one, as skilled attorneys understand the best arguments to make to prevent the judge from keeping you in jail while the case plays out.
There are multiple ways the judge can decide to handle your bail. They may decide to release you on your own recognizance, or without bail, especially for lower-level crimes and those with no criminal history. As noted above, they can also choose to hold you in jail until the matter is resolved for serious crimes where you may be a threat to the public. The typical route, however, is for the judge to issue bail based on state guidelines and their consideration of factors such as your prior criminal history, the nature and severity of the crime alleged, your ties to the community, your potential danger to the public, and whether you might be a flight risk.
In domestic violence cases, the judge at this hearing will often issue a temporary order of protection barring you from having any contact with the alleged victim. This means that if you live with the victim, you will have to move out and find other living arrangements until the case is resolved. An experienced bail hearing defense attorney like those at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long can fight for you to be released for little to no bail and argue against the temporary order of protection being imposed.
Plea Bargaining and Trials in Bucks County Domestic Violence Cases
After bail is settled, there will be a formal arraignment scheduled. At this arraignment, the judge will read your charges to you and ask you to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Our experienced attorneys will likely advise you to plead not guilty while we collect evidence and assess the strength of the government’s case. We will also begin plea negotiations with the prosecutor.
For those without an extensive history who are facing low-level charges, we will try to negotiate to get you into a pre-trial diversion program. If you complete the requirements of this program and stay out of trouble, your charges will be dropped. If pre-trial diversion is not a possibility, we will work to get the prosecutor to agree to downgrade the charges or recommend a more lenient sentence in exchange for you pleading guilty. Be aware, however, that in domestic violence cases the prosecutor will often not make any deals without consulting with the alleged victim. If no deal can be reached, we are ready and able to defend your innocence at trial.
Call Our Experienced Bucks County Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers Today
Domestic disputes can be complicated and can often lead to people saying things or making accusations that they do not mean. Unfortunately, these false accusations can lead to very real consequences if you are arrested for a domestic violence charge. At The Law Offices of Lloyd Long, our Bucks County domestic violence defense lawyers have many years of experience successfully fighting on behalf of our clients charged with domestic violence. We will work to get you out of jail as quickly as possible and to bring your case to a satisfactory resolution. Call us today at (215) 302-0171 for a free consultation.