Domestic violence, referring to violence between persons in the same household, is a significant public safety issue. Hundreds die, and thousands suffer serious injuries annually in U.S. domestic violence incidents. Law enforcement prioritizes domestic violence calls, just as prosecutors prioritize domestic violence crimes. Pennsylvania does not have a single specific domestic violence crime. Instead, prosecutors in Pennsylvania charge domestic violence under general statutes criminalizing sexual assault, harassment, stalking, child abuse, and false imprisonment.

Protection from Abuse (PFA) Orders

Victims of domestic violence, and the courts and prosecutors who protect them, have other legal weapons in their arsenal beyond Pennsylvania’s general criminal statutes against stalking, harassment, sexual assault, and other violent crimes. Pennsylvania’s legislature, like legislatures in other states, has taken notice of domestic violence’s impact. Pennsylvania’s Protection from Abuse Act, 23 Pa.C.S. §6101 et seq. authorizes courts to issue civil orders protecting household members from abuse. Those orders, which can evict the defendant from the home and prevent contact with the spouse and children, subject the defendant to criminal contempt penalties. You can end up in jail for violating a PFA order.

Domestic Abuse Sentence Enhancements

Pennsylvania’s legislature has also defined and deterred domestic abuse by threatening enhanced criminal penalties. While Pennsylvania does not have a single specific domestic violence crime, prosecutors can seek enhanced criminal charges and penalties for domestic abuse. For purposes of PFA orders and sentence enhancements, 23 Pa.C.S. §6102 defines domestic abuse as “one or more of the following acts between family or household members, sexual or intimate partners or persons who share biological parenthood:

(1) Attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury, serious bodily injury, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault, or incest

(2) Placing another in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury.

(3) The infliction of false imprisonment

(4) Physically or sexually abusing minor children

Retain Skilled Counsel for Domestic Violence Defense

Domestic violence charges carry stiff sanctions. Stalking, child abuse, and sexual abuse domestic violence crimes can result in prison terms of five, seven, or even ten years. Don’t leave your fate in the hands of aggressive prosecutors. Retain skilled and experienced Philadelphia criminal defense attorney John D’Intino. Attorney D’Intino is available for your defense. Act now. Call 267-491-9111. Request a free consultation.