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Domestic Abuse

Understanding the domestic violence laws and penalties in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania laws treat domestic violence and assault in the same manner. According to Pennsylvania law, domestic violence is one or more of the following acts taking place between family or household members, people with the same child/ children or sexual/intimate partners:

  • False imprisonment
  • Causing another person to fear serious bodily injury
  • Physically or sexually abusing a minor child
  • Recklessly or intentionally causing or threatening to cause bodily injury, sexual assault, serious bodily injury, indecent assault, rape, incest, statuary sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, or aggravated indecent assault with or without a deadly weapon
  • Repeatedly committing actions directed at another person that cause the other person to fear bodily injury

Domestic violence laws in Pennsylvania

Seeking an order of protection, a domestic violence victim can file a petition in court. Within ten days after the petition is filed, a hearing is held. A hearing notice is sent to the defendant and he or she is allowed to present evidence. The court will grant an order of protection from domestic violence if the petitioner successfully proves the acts of violence he or she accused the defendant of committing. An order of protection includes provisions that:

  • Prevent the accused from abusing the petitioner or minor children
  • Award the petitioner exclusive possession of the home or instruct the accused to provide appropriate alternate housing
  • Award temporary visitation or custody of a minor child
  • Order the accused to financially support the petitioner and minor children if he or she is legally required to do so
  • Prevent the accused from contacting the petitioner or minor children including stopping the accused from harassing the petitioner, the petitioner’s relatives, or minor children and prohibiting the accused from visiting the workplace or school of the petitioner or minor children
  • Order the accused to temporarily hand in guns or any other weapons used as a means for domestic violence
  • Order the accused to pay the petitioner for losses he or she incurred as a consequence of domestic abuse including loss of earnings, counseling expenses, medical and dental expenses and expenses for repair or replacement of personal property damaged by the accused
  • Prevent the accused from harassing and stalking the petitioner

An order of protection granted by a court in Pennsylvania is relevant for up to three years but the order can be extended if the accused commits another domestic violence offense during this period.

Penalties for domestic violence in Pennsylvania

If a person violates an order of protection from domestic violence, he or she will face a $1000 fine and up to six months in jail. Also, a police officer can arrest an individual without a warrant if the individual has committed any of following offenses against a household or family member:

  • Stalking
  • Aggravated assault
  • Simple assault
  • Involuntary manslaughter

Whether you’re a victim of domestic violence or someone accused of committing domestic abuse, Pennsylvania attorneys with their knowledge and expertise can help you to get out of trouble.