Delaware County, PA Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer
Domestic violence is a loaded term that carries many different connotations. While most people have heard this term, many do not know exactly what it means or how it is charged in the criminal justice system. Many also do not realize the serious consequences that come with being charged with and potentially convicted of an offense of domestic violence. Not only can you face harsh penalties like high fines and long jail terms, but your reputation in the community can also be tarnished forever.
At The Law Offices of Lloyd Long, our Delaware County, PA domestic violence defense lawyers have years of experience successfully defending clients charged with crimes of domestic violence. We will work to ensure that your side of the story is told, and will fight to bring your case to a positive resolution that does not leave your life in tatters. For a free consultation, call our office today at (215) 302-0171.
How Domestic Violence is Defined in Delaware County, PA
There is no single charge called “domestic violence” in the Pennsylvania criminal code. Instead, domestic violence is a catch-all term used to classify a series of offenses committed by someone against a certain group of people. Domestic violence crimes are not all crimes of physical violence. Certain non-violent or sexual crimes, such as stalking or harassment, can be classified as domestic violence depending on the circumstances. What all offenses of domestic violence have in common is that the alleged victim was in a close or special relationship with the alleged perpetrator.
The types of close or special relationship can vary, but the main qualifiers are family relationships, romantic relationships, and cohabitants. It could be a child attacking their parent, a wife committing assault against their husband, or a fight between roommates. While many types of domestic violence occur between cohabitants, you do not necessarily have to live with someone to be charged with domestic violence. In fact, domestic violence can even sometimes apply to actions undertaken by an ex-partner or ex-roommate.
A domestic violence classification means that some aspects of the case will be handled differently. Steeper fines and jail sentences could apply, depending on the severity of the underlying charge and the extent of your criminal history. You will also have to deal with the prospect of a no-contact order requiring you to stay away from the alleged victim.
Some of the more common charges in domestic violence cases include the following:
- Endangering the welfare of a child
- Aggravated assault
- Simple assault
- Sexual assault
- False Imprisonment
- Terroristic threats
- Reckless endangerment
How Domestic Violence Complaints Work in Delaware County, PA
When the police receive a report of domestic violence that includes a physical assault by one member of the household against another, they have probable cause to make a warrantless arrest. After you have been arrested, you will be taken to the local police station for the booking process. After being photographed and fingerprinted, you will be held in a cell at the station or at the local detention center until your preliminary arraignment, which should be held within, at most, 72 hours of your booking.
The preliminary arraignment also functions as a bail hearing, where the judge will decide whether you can be released on bail and how much bail should be set at. This hearing is usually conducted via videoconference from the station or jail, meaning that you are not actually in the courtroom with the judge making the decision. You are also not required to be given counsel for this hearing, so it is vital that you or a loved one reach out to a skilled bail hearing defense lawyer like those at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long on your own. It can make a big difference to be represented by someone who understands the best arguments to make to the judge for your release with minimal to no bail.
The judge has several different options in terms of imposing bail. For lower level crimes and those with minimal or no criminal history, the judge may choose to release them on their own recognizance, or with non-monetary conditions such as seeking counsel and staying out of further trouble. For serious crimes, the judge may have the option of holding you in prison without bail until the underlying criminal charge is resolved. Most of the time, the judge will impose cash bail. When deciding what amount to impose, the judge will consider such factors as criminal history, flight risk, severity of the alleged crime, and ties to the community.
In domestic violence cases, the judge is also likely to issue a temporary protective order, meaning that you cannot have contact with the alleged victim. This can be an issue if you live with the alleged victim. You will likely have to move out and find temporary accommodations at least until the case is resolved and the order is lifted.
The Post-Bail Process in Delaware County, PA Domestic Violence Cases
After bail is decided, a formal arraignment will be scheduled. At the formal arraignment, the judge will ask you to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Your lawyer will likely advise you to plead not guilty at this point while they discuss a plea deal with the prosecutor. If your charge is fairly minor and you have no criminal history, your lawyer may lobby for you to enter a pre-trial diversion program. If you complete this program successfully, your charges will be dropped.
If pre-trial diversion is not possible, the lawyer will attempt to make a deal where you plead guilty in exchange for the charges being downgraded or the promise of a lenient sentence recommendation. In domestic violence cases, the prosecutor usually will not make a deal without the victim’s consent. If no fair deal can be reached, we will fight for your innocence at trial.
Call Our Delaware County, PA Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers Today
Domestic violence charges are taken very seriously by police and prosecutors and can result in serious penalties such and high fines and long jail sentences. A conviction for domestic violence can also ruin your reputation in the community and derail future job prospects. At The Law Offices of Lloyd Long, our Delaware County, PA domestic violence defense lawyers have the experience and skill to fight to get your domestic violence charges downgraded or dismissed. For a free consultation, call us today at (215) 302-0171.