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Domestic Violence Attorney in West Chester, Pennsylvania

Unfortunately, the crime rates for domestic violence charges have gone up in recent years. For example, according to the Pennsylvania Uniform Crime Reporting system, the number of offenses against families and children was 9,139 in 2018, a 25% increase over the previous four years. However, not everyone who’s accused of crimes like this is actually guilty, and everyone deserves an experienced and competent lawyer defending their rights. 

If you’ve been arrested for a crime like domestic battery, physical assault against a family member, or sexual abuse charges, you need to reach out to a criminal defense attorney immediately. If you’re in the West Chester, Pennsylvania area, call us at Strand Law Offices, LLC to get started. We’re proud to represent clients in West Chester as well as Lancaster County and surrounding counties throughout Pennsylvania. 

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Domestic Violence in Pennsylvania  

It’s important to have a clear understanding of what constitutes “domestic violence” under Pennsylvania law since each state has a slightly different definition. First, to be considered a domestic violence crime, it must occur between a family member, romantic partner, household member, or with an individual you share a common child with regardless of your relationship status. Under this definition, a household member may be a spouse (current or former), boyfriend or girlfriend, child, parent, or other blood relative. Additionally, there are several criminal acts that fall under this umbrella term. Though some of them are less serious as far as the potential penalties go, they should all be handled by a professional. 

Some acts that fall under this designation are sexual and physical abuse of a partner or minor child, threatening or intimidating a family member until they feel they’re in danger of imminent bodily harm, sexual assault, rape, incest, recklessly causing bodily harm, or false imprisonment. 

Possible Consequences & Penalties  

The possible consequences of a domestic violence conviction won’t be the same for every person and will vary depending on the actual crime you’re being charged with and your past criminal record. However, even a seemingly minor charge can have lasting implications, although a misdemeanor conviction will bring with it fewer consequences than a felony. For the majority of domestic assault cases, a conviction will likely mean time in jail as well as fines. Misdemeanor convictions can result in one to five years in jail and fines of $2,500 to $10,000, while felony convictions can result in seven to 20 years in jail and fines of $15,000 to $25,000. 

In addition, many people convicted of these crimes will also lose their right to carry a firearm, may be required to participate in an intervention program such as drug rehabilitation or an anger management class, or may be deported if they were in the country unlawfully. It’s also quite common in these cases for the guilty party to lose custody of their children or be denied their parenting visitation rights. Even before your trial takes place, you could be subject to a protection from abuse order (PFA) that can drastically limit the amount of interaction you can have with family members such as minor children, including a temporary custody order removing them from your care. 

Finally, if your charges are sexual in nature, you may have to add your name to the national sex offender’s registry that could remain there for 15 years, 25 years, or even your entire life.  

Possible Defenses  

When you work with an experienced attorney, they can educate you on your options for how to defend against a domestic violence charge. It’s extremely important that you don’t try to represent yourself in court. Instead, hire an attorney who will speak on your behalf in court. These are sensitive crimes and presenting a clear and convincing defense takes a comprehensive knowledge of state law as well as courtroom experience. 

One option for your defense could be that you’ve been falsely accused of your crime. Sadly, sometimes former romantic partners or spouses may seek revenge or retribution by accusing someone of a crime they didn’t actually commit. In other cases, you may have been accused of assault when in fact you were only acting out of self-defense and it was actually your accuser who is guilty. Lastly, you may have a defense if you and your lawyer can show a lack of intent, since many of these charges require an intentional act. While it’s true that you may have harmed someone in a domestic setting, it may have happened by accident. 

Domestic Violence Attorney in West Chester, Pennsylvania 

If you’ve been charged with domestic violence, it can feel completely overwhelming. Anytime you’re accused of a crime, your priority should be to reach out to a qualified attorney who can advise you on your next steps. A domestic violence charge is no different. Contact us today at Strand Law Offices in West Chester, Pennsylvania to schedule a consultation and start working on your defense.