Domestic Assault and Domestic Violence
Lancaster County Domestic Violence Lawyer
Domestic violence is a tragedy, and heartbreaking for all involved. People are quick to have sympathy for the victim, however, they are equally quick to cast judgment on the accused. They forget that the accused is innocent until proven guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. They do not know that domestic violence accusations can stem from misunderstandings, or even false or exaggerated claims engineered by someone trying to gain an advantage in a legal proceeding, such as a child custody matter.
When you are accused of domestic violence, it can feel like you are all alone, and that the people closest to you have turned against you. You could use someone on your side, fighting the accusations.
Any accusation involving domestic violence comes charged with an emotional stigma that is difficult to fight. Many claims of domestic abuse stem from misunderstandings or manipulations, but they all begin a legal battle that is an uphill climb for the accused.
Your rights may be trampled in law enforcement’s eagerness to protect the alleged victim. An experienced lawyer can fight to protect your rights during the challenging situation ahead of you. You need an aggressive attorney on your side who is not afraid to proactively ensure that you are innocent unless proven guilty.
Domestic Assault Attorney in Lancaster PA
At Ciccarelli Law Offices, we know that your future is at stake. We have represented dozens of individuals across Pennsylvania who have faced domestic violence charges, and we know what you’re up against. If convicted, you face prison time, fines, and a mark on your permanent record that can deny you opportunities including certain rights. We can aggressively fight to defend your from these outcomes.
Call us at (717) 291-9400 today to schedule your free consultation to discuss the unique circumstances of your situation. We can give you an honest assessment of your case and help you choose the best way forward. Let us reduce your stress by taking on the burden of your challenging situation in Lancaster County.
At Ciccarelli Law Offices, we know the negative impact that a domestic violence charge can have on you and your family’s lives. Many times, the ones being accused with domestic violence don’t get a chance to tell their side of the situation. Society may stereotype the accused, giving them little opportunity to stand up for themselves. Our experienced attorneys don’t want to see that happen to our clients. If you’ve been accused of domestic violence, let our aggressive criminal defense lawyers fight for you.
Lancaster Domestic Violence Lawyer
A Lancaster PA domestic violence lawyer from Ciccarelli Law Offices will stand by you during this time and be your advocate. You need more than one lawyer or just one hope when facing an accusation and/or arrest of domestic assault, “beating a spouse”, same-sex couple violence, and/or endangering the welfare of a child in Lancaster County or the greater Philadelphia area.
We are a team of defense lawyers with nearly 40 years of experience fighting for your justice when you are facing domestic violence charges, and who put out the strategies on your behalf and implement the strongest possible defenses for you. We can represent and fight for your interests in related proceedings, including hearings for (PFA) Protection from Abuse Orders. Call us today at (717) 291-9400 for a free consultation with a dedicated advocate.
We represent people facing domestic violence charges throughout Lancaster County PA including but not limited to Quarryville, Manheim, Lititz, Millersville, Ephrata, Denver, Willow Street, Mount Joy, Paradise and Gap.
Experience Gets Results
The defense attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices have over 100 combined years of experience in the Lancaster area. If you’ve been accused of domestic violence in Colombia, Elizabeth, Stevens, New Holland or any of the surrounding areas, get an experienced team on your side.
Pennsylvania Has Serious Domestic Violence Laws
Domestic violence is taken very seriously in the state of Pennsylvania. If a call claiming that you’ve committed a violent act against someone is made to the police, they are required to arrest you, regardless of the facts.
Sentencing for domestic violence crimes in the Lancaster area varies from being ordered to take anger management classes to felony charges and prison time. Don’t let your voice go unheard. Hire a team of attorneys that experienced, determined, hard-working, aggressive and compassionate. We will fight to get you the most desired outcome from your case.
Types of Domestic Abuse
Physical abuse involves force being used against the victim in order to cause injury. Even if the violence doesn’t cause a major injury, it is still considered physical abuse.
Emotional abuse involves destruction of the victim’s self-worth. This can be brought on in a number of ways, like persistent insults, criticism or humiliation.
sexual abuse is not just limited to sexual assault and rape, but also includes sexual harassment such as unwelcome touching and demeaning behaviors. Even being coerced into not using a contraceptive or having an abortion are forms of sexual abuse.
An example of financial violence would be a husband preventing his wife from getting an education or a job outside of the home. The victim is usually financially dependent of their partner, and this is a way their partner can control them.
Psychological abuse is defined as someone intimidating, threatening or using fear causing behavior towards the victim.
Issues in Pennsylvania Domestic Charges
- Domestic Violence Defined in Pennsylvania Law
- Charges Often Associated With Domestic Violence in Chester County
- Protection from Abuse Orders in West Chester
Domestic Violence Defined in Pennsylvania Law
There is not a charge in the criminal code for “domestic violence” or “domestic assault.” Domestic violence, in Pennsylvania, is defined as one of many crimes of violence or endangerment between two or more people who share a certain kind of relationship. There are not necessarily enhanced criminal penalties for domestic violence. However, there are civil penalties, such as Protection from Abuse Orders, that can have a very serious effect on your life.
The relationships that can define domestic violence are found in 23 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 6102. The relationship between the accused may be the victim’s husband, wife, ex-husband, ex-wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, ex-boyfriend, ex-girlfriend, life partner, ex-partner, person he or she lived with, mother, father, son, daughter, current sex partner, former sex partner or anyone else otherwise related by blood or marriage.
Charges Often Associated With Domestic Violence in Lancaster County
There are several accusations of violence that may be made during a domestic violence matter. If convicted, you may serve the sentences for the underlying charge as well as any civil penalties:
Assault means intentionally causing or attempting to cause bodily harm, or putting another person in imminent fear of bodily harm. A simple assault can be a second degree misdemeanor, with penalties of up to two years in jail and a $2,000 fine.
If there was any serious bodily injury, the charges may escalate to a first degree felony with aggravated assault. The punishment may be up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
Parents are allowed to spank a child, but it is a very fine line where corporal punishment becomes child abuse. Assault on a child is a charges that can lead to up to five years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
Endangering the Welfare of a Child (18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 4304)
If accused of endangering the welfare of a child, it means you had a duty of care, protection or support you are alleged to have violated. For instance, if you are a parent with custody of a child, then you have a duty to care for that child. Violations are wide ranging, including driving drunk with a child in the car, leaving the child in a car when it is hot outside, not seeking medical care for a sick or injured child or merely living in conditions not suitable for children.
A single instance of endangering the welfare of a child is a first degree misdemeanor, resulting in up to five years in prison and a fine up to $5,000. If a pattern of endangerment can be proved, it may become a third degree felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Stalking (18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2709.1)
In stalking, the accused allegedly repeatedly follows or communicates with the victim in a way that causes him or her emotional stress and/or reasonable fear of bodily injury.
Stalking is a first degree misdemeanor, resulting in up to five years in jail and a fine up to $10,000. If prosecutors can prove that the defendant repeatedly communicated with the victim, it may be a third degree felony, with punishments up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Terroristic Threats is defined in 18 Penn. Cons. Stat. § 2706. It involves the accused communicating a direct or indirect threat to commit an act of violence to terrorize a person, cause an evacuation or otherwise cause public inconvenience. Terroristic threats is a first degree misdemeanor unless it causes a severe public disruption, at which point it becomes a third degree felony.
Protection from Abuse Orders in Lancaster County PA
Any allegations of domestic violence may result in a Protection from Abuse Order, or PFA. A PFA Order is designed to keep the accused from being anywhere near the victim.
The order prevents the accused from coming anywhere within a certain distance from the victim, going to the victim’s place of work or school, and from contacting the victim in any way. They may also prevent the accused from possessing a firearm, can change child custody arrangements and a variety of other measures.
The person seeking the order does not have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused engaged in domestic violence. A person may be able to obtain an order on details and evidence that would never result in a criminal conviction.
When a person demands a PFA order, there may be a temporary order. For a longer one, though, there will be a hearing. Your criminal defense attorney can represent you at this hearing.
Any violation of a PFA order can result in criminal contempt charges, which may result in up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Standing On Your Side During Domestic Violence Charges
Our team of criminal defense attorneys can represent you if you face accusations of domestic violence in Lancaster County, including Lancaster, York, Ephrata, Manheim, Gap, Lititz, Millersville and Columbia PA. A Lancaster domestic violence lawyer can help you maintain your life despite these accusations, and fight the resulting criminal charges. Contact us today at (717) 291-9400 for a free consultation.
Definition of Misdemeanor Domestic Assault in Pennsylvania
An individual may face charges of domestic assault if they commit simple assault against a family member or other person in their household, including a spouse, children, anyone related by blood or marriage, or anyone living in the same residence.
This type of assault if defined by 18 Pa. Const. Stat. § 2701 and includes instances of:
- Attempting to cause of intentionally causing bodily injury to another person
- Causing injury to another person with a deadly weapon through negligence
- Attempting to instill fear of serious bodily injury into another person through physical menace
Felony Aggravated Domestic Assault in Pennsylvania
A domestic assault charge is considered a felony assault under certain circumstances, including:
- Attempting to cause or causing serious bodily injury to another household member through knowingly or recklessly attempting to harm them, in a manner that show disregard for human life
- Attempting to knowingly injure a household member with a deadly weapon
A deadly weapon is defined for both of these scenarios as a weapon capable of causing death or serious bodily injury, such as a gun, knife, or heavy object.
Penalties for Domestic Assault in Pennsylvania
An offender convicted of misdemeanor domestic assault faces a second degree misdemeanor charge that carries the possibility of up to 2 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. However, if the assault was committed against a child younger than 12 years old by an adult 21 years or older, the offense may be punished by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
For a charge of aggravated domestic assault, the offense is considered a first degree felony that is punishable by up to 20 years on jail and up to $25,000 in fines.
Apart from jail time and fines, this charge can affect future opportunities, such as educational and employment applications. In addition, you may lose custody of your children or other rights.
Seeking a Domestic Violence Attorney in Pennsylvania
If you are facing the uphill battle against an allegation of domestic assault, Ciccarelli Law Offices can reduce your stress by helping you understand every step of the process before you. Our experienced attorneys are ready to aggressively defend you against this serious charge in Lancaster County. Call us today at (717) 291-9400 if you are facing a domestic violence charge.
Lancaster PFA/Domestic Violence and Terroristic Threats
The terms “Restraining Orders” and “Protection from Abuse Orders” are often used synonymously however they are really two separate issues. The Protection from Abuse (PFA) Order process is not a criminal action—although criminal charges can certainly stem from a PFA, the PFA process itself is civil in nature, intended to give relief to victims from their abusers. PFA’s are governed by two Pennsylvania statutory sections—one is found in the Pennsylvania Domestic Relations law area (23 Pa. C.S. §6102) while the other is found in the Judicial Procedure Pennsylvania law area (42 Pa. C.S. §62A01).
If you are facing charges of domestic violence or terrorist threat and subject to a PFA Order, we can help. Our team of attorneys have the experience, passion, and consideration to protect your future and your freedom during this difficult legal process. Contact us today at (717) 291-9400 or (877) 529-2422. Our Lancaster Office is located at 313 West Liberty Place, Lancaster PA 17603.
Understanding the Lancaster Criminal Charges & PFA Orders
While many people believe they can obtain a PFA against any person who harasses or hurts them in any way, it is a bit more complex than that. Only acts between sexual or intimate partners, those who share biological parenthood, family members or household members fall under the Domestic Relations area of law. A PFA can not be brought against a stranger or co-worker. There are also specific circumstances under which a Domestic Relations PFA can be brought, including:
- The perpetrator placed another in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury;
- The perpetrator inflicted false imprisonment on the victim;
- The perpetrator attempted to intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cause bodily injury, rape, sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault or incest, with or without a deadly weapon.
- The perpetrator knowingly engaged in a course of conduct or repeatedly committed acts toward another person—such as following the person—which placed that person in reasonable fear of bodily injury.
- The perpetrator physically or sexually abused minor children.
The Judicial Procedure PFA law has only been in effect since the summer of 2015. This law broadens the scope of who a PFA can be brought against, protecting victims of intimidation or sexual violence and covering sexual crimes occurring outside of family or household members which are not addressed by the Domestic Relations Section. In short, the Domestic Relations area of the PFA law protects those victims who are non-family or household members.
Each county in Pennsylvania follows a different process for obtaining a PFA order, but generally speaking, in a non-emergency situation, the victim goes to the courthouse PFA office to request a Protection from Abuse Order. A determination will be made as to whether the PFA should be granted, then the alleged victim as well as the alleged perpetrator have the right to a hearing for a final determination. Should a temporary order be issued, that order will be in effect for up to 10 days, then a final hearing will occur.
During the final hearing, both sides will be allowed to present evidence and testimony and the judge will determine whether the PFA will be granted, making the temporary order final, or denied. If the PFA is granted it can be set for up to three years. Having a PFA against you can have far-reaching effects on both the victim and perpetrator so it would be wise to speak to an experienced Lancaster attorney who understands the process and can help you determine the best course of action.
Understanding Domestic Violence Charges in Lancaster
If you have been charged with domestic violence—it is important to contact an experienced Pennsylvania attorney who can help you determine the steps you need take. Domestic violence between family or household members includes any act of incest, rape, bodily injury to a family or household member, placing a family or household member in reasonable fear of immediate, serious bodily injury, false imprisonment of a family or household member, physical or sexual abuse of a child who is a family or household member, or any other action which repeatedly places a family or household member in reasonable fear of serious bodily injury, including harassment and stalking.
Domestic violence is not considered a separate charge from assault, aggravated assault or battery in the state of Pennsylvania, rather there are additional considerations when the alleged victim is a family or household member. When an alleged victim calls the police and makes an allegation that a member of his or her household has committed a violent act against them, the police are required to make an arrest once they arrive at the address. From that point, the prosecutor will determine whether charges are appropriate, and, if the charges are made the alleged victim cannot choose to drop the charges.
The state of Pennsylvania has made many changes regarding domestic violence laws in recent years; today, the penalties for a domestic violence conviction can range from being ordered by the judge to undergo counseling or take anger management courses, to felony charges and resulting incarceration in the event of a conviction. The sentence imposed will primarily depend on the severity of the abuse endured by the alleged victim as well as the defendant’s prior pattern of conduct. This means that if this is the first time the defendant has been charged with such a crime, then it is likely there will be a lighter sentence than for the defendant who has prior charges of domestic violence.
The Lancaster Domestic Violence Defense Firm You Need
When charges for domestic violence are brought against you, the attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices will evaluate the police report and formulate a defense based on the circumstances surrounding your charges. While your defense will be based on those circumstances, however the most common defenses to the crime of domestic violence include:
- Actual innocence—Another person committed the abuse and/or you were somewhere else at the time, i.e., you had an alibi.
- The alleged victim lied about the abuse—In some cases, a family member, spouse or partner could have fabricated the story in an attempt to “get even” with you for a real or imagined affront.
- The injuries stemmed from an accident—The injuries received by the victim were caused unintentionally.
- You were defending yourself—The alleged victim attacked you, and you were merely defending yourself from the attack.
- The instances of alleged domestic violence cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
- The police made errors in your arrest—There are a number of ways the police may have made errors which will allow your attorney to have your charges dropped. Perhaps you were interrogated, but the interrogation was not recorded, your Miranda Rights were not read to you, you were denied your request for a lawyer, there was no probable cause for the search or interrogation, you were not asked for your version of the incident, there was uncollected physical evidence, no eyewitnesses were questioned, or the police report fails to sufficiently describe the incident. To avoid a conviction for domestic violence, it is extremely important that you speak to an experienced, knowledgeable Lancaster domestic violence attorney at Ciccarelli Law Offices regarding your charges.
Understanding Charges of Terroristic Threats in Lancaster
A person who communicates—either directly or indirectly—a threat to do any of the following could be charged with making a terroristic threat:
- Threatens to commit a crime of violence with an intent to terrorize another person;
- Makes a threat which causes the evacuation of a public transportation facility, a place of assembly or a building;
- Makes a threat which causes a public inconvenience, or
- Makes a threat which causes terror or serious public inconvenience with reckless disregard.
Making a terroristic threat is a first-degree misdemeanor, however if your threat caused others to stop their normal activities it could be charged as a third-degree felony. If you are found guilty, you could be required to pay restitution for the cost of the evacuation, including expenses for police and fire department response, emergency preparedness response and emergency medical services. You could also be sued in a civil court to recover any expenses caused by your threats.
Because terroristic threats are speech-based crimes, they can be extremely subjective, therefore difficult to determine whether the speech rose to the level of a criminal offense. Speech alone cannot be considered a crime therefore any terroristic threat must have the element of an intended result. In other words, it must be able to be shown that the threatening words could have actually had a result of harm or injury.
As an example, perhaps you tell your co-worker “If you use my coffee cup again, I’m going to kill you.” The issue here is context. Do you and your co-worker have a normally friendly relationship? Were you smiling when you said the words? If so, then your statement could be taken as nothing other than a joke. On the other hand, if you and your co-worker have a long-standing, contentious relationship and others who hear your statement tend to believe you really might consider homicide if your cup is used again, then your statement might be considered a threat. Intent is everything in the issue of terroristic threats.
Getting Help from an Experienced Lancaster Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with Domestic Violence or Terroristic Threats, or you have had a PFA filed against you, it is extremely important that you contact an experienced Lancaster criminal defense attorney who can answer your questions and mount an aggressive defense on your behalf. The highly experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Ciccarelli Law Offices can help you (717) 291-9400 or (877) 529-2422 immediately to begin building a solid defense against these serious charges.