Philadelphia Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer
Domestic abuse charges in Philadelphia can involve an array of offenses, including assault, harassment, stalking, and rape. No matter what crime the defendant is charged with, serious penalties can be imposed if they are found guilty.
Domestic violence charges apply in cases where alleged victims are dating partners or adults who live together. Acts of domestic violence might include various criminal offenses that would not be considered domestic violence under different circumstances. Penalties tend to vary, as charges may be for misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the situation. However, many defendants face steep penalties, as domestic violence might come with upgraded sentencing options. There might be consequences, such as restrictive protective orders, before you even reach a trial. An attorney can help you find the evidence you need to present an effective defense using sound legal strategies and tactics.
If you are charged with domestic violence, our Philadelphia domestic violence defense attorneys understand how to protect your rights. At the Law Office of Lloyd Long, we draw upon former experience prosecuting crimes to defend our clients effectively. For a free case review, call our offices at (215) 302-0171.
What Crimes Are Considered Domestic Violence in Philadelphia?
The term “domestic violence” does not refer to a specific crime. Instead, “domestic abuse” or “domestic violence” (DV) covers a range of offenses, which can be sexual, violent, or non-violent in nature.
The Law Office of Lloyd Long defends against a range of DV charges in Philadelphia. Common examples of Philadelphia DV charges our legal team handles include:
- Aggravated Assault – 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2702
- Endangering the Welfare of a Child – 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 4304
- False Imprisonment – 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2903
- Harassment – 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2709
- Rape – 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3121
- Recklessly Endangering Another Person (REAP) – 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2705
- Robbery – 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3701
- Sexual Assault – 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3124.1
- Simple Assault – 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2701
- Stalking – 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2709.1
- Strangulation – 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2718
- Terroristic Threats – 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2706
Who May be Charged with Domestic Violence in Philadelphia?
Contrary to what some mistakenly believe, domestic violence is not a single charge or even a collection of charges. Instead, domestic violence applies to criminal acts of violence under specific conditions or circumstances. An offense is generally considered an act of domestic violence if it is directed against a cohabitant, meaning someone you live with, or against a member of your family or household. This could include a crime allegedly committed against a:
- Adult Daughter
- Former Housemate/Roommate
- Sexual/Romantic Partner
- Adult Son
Many of the defendants charged with DV crimes are men. However, any Philadelphian can be charged with domestic abuse, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, or other factors. Acts of violence against minors are not normally considered domestic violence. Instead, these cases are usually charged under laws relating to child abuse.
How Domestic Abuse Cases Work in Philadelphia
The terms “domestic violence” or “domestic abuse” do not refer to specific, individual crimes. Rather, they refer to a range of offenses, which can be violent, non-violent, or sexual in nature, but have one thing in common: they were committed by a person with a special or close relationship to the alleged victim. So while the charge would be something like assault, the way the case is handled will differ if the alleged victim of the assault was someone like a family member, romantic partner, or roommate. The laws can also sometimes apply to ex-partners or ex-roommates.
In domestic violence cases, police in Pennsylvania are permitted to make an arrest without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe violence occurred against a member of the household. You will be arrested and taken to the local police station for what is known as the booking process, where you will be fingerprinted and photographed and your biographical information will be collected. Then, you will wait in a holding cell until you can be video-conferenced into a courtroom for a preliminary arraignment and bail hearing in front of a judge.
At this hearing, the judge will determine whether you can be released on your own recognizance, released with conditions such as bail, or if you cannot be released and must be held in jail until the underlying matter is resolved. An experienced bail hearing defense attorney like those at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long will know how to make the best arguments to the judge that you should be released on little to no bail. Factors that the judge considers include the severity of the crime alleged, the defendant’s ties to the community, any prior criminal history, and whether anything indicates that the defendant might present a flight risk.
At this hearing, the judge will likely also issue a no-contact order with the victim as a condition of your release. This is formally referred to as a temporary order of protection, which can be converted into a permanent order of protection depending on the outcome of the case. This means that if you live with the person you are charged with committing domestic violence against, you cannot return home.
From there, our lawyers will begin to negotiate with the prosecutor for a deal where the charges are dismissed or downgraded. However, prosecutors in domestic violence cases may be unwilling to drop the charges without the victim’s consent. If necessary, our lawyers are ready to defend your innocence at trial.
Penalties for Domestic Abuse in Philadelphia
Some crimes of domestic abuse are misdemeanors, while others are felonies. Regardless of whether a domestic violence offense is a misdemeanor or a felony, the defendant risks receiving a criminal record, being sentenced to jail or prison, being heavily fined, and other penalties. Depending on the nature of the offense, it may be a requirement to register as a sex offender.
The penalty for a domestic violence conviction depends on factors like the defendant’s criminal history, the nature of the offense, and the severity of injury to the victim, where applicable. Moreover, different penalties can be imposed for the same crime, depending on how the offense is graded. For example, there are some cases where simple assault is a second-degree misdemeanor, while in other cases – including cases of assault against children by adults – the same offense is considered a first-degree misdemeanor and is therefore subject to greater penalties.
Depending on these factors, consequences of a domestic violence conviction in Pennsylvania could include the following fines and sentences:
- Third-Degree Misdemeanor
- Maximum Fine – $2,500
- Maximum Sentence – 1 year in jail
- Second-Degree Misdemeanor
- Maximum Fine – $5,000
- Maximum Sentence – 2 years in prison
- First Degree-Misdemeanor
- Maximum Fine – $10,000
- Maximum Sentence – 5 years in prison
- Third Degree-Felony
- Maximum Fine – $15,000
- Maximum Sentence – 7 years in prison
- Second-Degree Felony
- Maximum Fine – $25,000
- Maximum Sentence – 10 years in prison
- First-Degree Felony
- Maximum Fine – $25,000
- Maximum Sentence – 20 years in prison
Pennsylvania’s criminal statutes establish enhanced penalties for certain crimes, which could result in a higher fine or longer sentence. However, our Philadelphia domestic violence attorneys will work tirelessly to reduce your charges to a minimum. If you are facing penalties for domestic violence during COVID-19, our Philadelphia lawyers for quarantine domestic violence cases can help.
Collateral Consequences of Domestic Violence Charges in Philadelphia
Courts and law enforcement are very keen on protecting alleged victims in domestic violence cases, often at the defendant’s expense. It can sometimes feel like you are being punished before you have a trial or chance to defend yourself.
Protection From Abuse Order
One example of protection for alleged victims that take a significant toll on defendants is a protection from abuse order (PFA), also called protective orders. PFAs may be granted with or without the defendant’s presence or knowledge. In many cases, the defendant only finds out about the protective order after a judge has handed it down.
An emergency order is often granted quickly without any notice to the defendant and may prohibit the defendant from seeing their family. Many defendants must leave the home they share with their partner, even if their name is on the lease.
Emergency orders are short-lived and may be replaced with a temporary protective order once a hearing on the matter can be arranged. The order might become permanent if a defendant is found guilty of domestic violence charges.
Defendants facing domestic violence charges might have their rights and privileges limited in various ways. If you are the subject of a protective or restraining order related to alleged domestic violence, you might be required to turn over any firearms you have to law enforcement. This is prior to a trial or any opportunity to defend yourself.
The right to own firearms is built into the foundation of our legal system, and being stripped of this right before a conviction is a huge deal. If you are found not guilty, or the charges are dropped or dismissed, your firearms are not returned automatically. Instead, you have to submit a petition to the authorities requesting your firearms be returned.
Possible Defenses to Domestic Violence Charges in Philadelphia
Domestic violence charges are tricky because they are assessed on two levels. First, domestic violence charges can only apply if you are alleged to have committed certain criminal acts of violence. Second, the alleged criminal acts must have been allegedly committed against a cohabitant. If our Philadelphia domestic violence defense lawyers can challenge your charges on either one of these fronts, we have a stronger chance of getting them dropped or dismissed.
First, if the alleged victim in your case was not a cohabitant, we can challenge your domestic violence charges. For example, the police might have believed the alleged victim was your partner, when the truth is they are your roommate’s partner. If the alleged victim is not your partner and does not live with you, domestic violence charges should not apply.
Unfortunately, instances of lying are not uncommon in domestic violence cases. Alleged victims sometimes lie about being the victim of abuse or violence to get the defendant in legal trouble. This sometimes comes up when two people are separating or divorcing, and one partner lies about abuse or violence in the hopes of getting full custody of children. If you believe the alleged victim lied to the police, we need to go over your case so we can start building a defense.
Abuse is a common theme in domestic violence cases, but it does not always happen as we expect. Perhaps your partner is the abusive one, and you had to use force to defend yourself from harm. Domestic violence cases are often complex, and the police and prosecutors do not always reach the right conclusions about who was truly the victim. If you acted in self-defense, our Philadelphia domestic violence defense lawyers can help you raise that defense.
How a Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer in Philadelphia Can Assist Your Case
An attorney can help you from the very beginning of your case up through the very end. The sooner you contact a lawyer about your situation, and the sooner they can get to work, the better your outcome is likely to be. Our Philadelphia domestic defense attorneys can help you fight these charges and clear your good name.
One way an attorney can assist your case is by finding important evidence. An experienced lawyer should be familiar with domestic violence and what prosecutors need to show in order to get a guilty verdict. Using this information, your attorney can help you identify and collect evidence that undermines the prosecutor’s case and makes it harder for them to secure a conviction.
A lawyer can also help you with legal issues before the trial begins. For example, domestic violence cases are often tied to protective orders. If the protective order in your case is just too restrictive and overly burdensome, our team can help you challenge the order.
Your attorney can also assist you in developing effective defense strategies. When challenging your charges, you should not just make any and every argument you can think of and see what sticks. You need well-panned strategies to make your arguments more effective. Your attorney can help determine what strategies are likely to work best for your situation.
Philadelphia Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Offering Free Consultations
Your future is at risk if you are arrested for domestic violence in Philadelphia. Protect yourself by hiring our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer with experience handling cases like yours. For a free case evaluation, call the Law Office of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171. We serve defendants throughout Philadelphia.