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In Philadelphia, domestic violence penalties may include:
- Jail or prison time
- Revocation of basic rights
- Inability to contact the accuser
The severity of the penalties you may face depends on the seriousness of the charges against you. They may also be influenced by whether you have been convicted of similar crimes before, among other factors.
What Are Domestic Violence Penalties?
Domestic violence encompasses a wide range of crimes, including:
- Physical assault
- Sexual assault
- Endangering a child’s life
The penalties for a domestic violence conviction may vary, depending on which of the above categories your alleged crime falls into. Penalties might include the following:
Jail or Prison Time
You could end up behind bars for months or even years. This could cost you your job and take you away from family and friends for an extended period of time. It could also damage your mental health.
You may be ordered to pay thousands of dollars to the court. Even comparatively minor crimes can carry fines severe enough to strain your resources or push your family into debt.
In addition to fines due to the court, the judge may order you to pay restitution to the victim(s) of your alleged crime. You will be expected to make these payments in a timely fashion, regardless of your financial situation. If you do not, you risk facing additional penalties.
Revocation of Rights
Depending on the specific charge against you, you may permanently lose the right to own a gun and a gun license. If you currently own a gun, you would be forced to relinquish it within legal deadlines or face additional penalties.
In addition, if you are convicted of a felony, you will not be able to vote in any election until you have served your sentence. This is according to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.
If a court decides that you are still a threat to the accuser, they may issue a protective/stay-away order. Under such an order, you would not be allowed to communicate with or have any contact with the accuser. This, in turn, can cut you off from loved ones or make it difficult for you to get to work or other locations.
For a free legal consultation, call 215.515.3360
What Determines Domestic Violence Penalties?
The penalties you could face if convicted of domestic violence depend on whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, as well as the grade assigned to the crime. From most to least serious, crime classifications in Pennsylvania are as follows:
- First-degree felony
- Second-degree felony
- Third-degree felony
- First-degree misdemeanor
- Second-degree misdemeanor
- Third-degree misdemeanor
- Summary offense
Domestic violence charges may fall almost anywhere on this scale. For example, depending on the circumstances, strangulation can be graded as a misdemeanor of the second degree (18 Pa. C.S.A § 2711), while aggravated assault in some circumstances is a felony of the first degree (18 Pa. C.S.A § 2702).
Ultimately, it is up to the judge in charge of your case to hand down what they feel is an appropriate punishment. Some judges may be more lenient than others, especially if this is your first offense. However, judges must work within the framework of state laws governing domestic violence cases.
Let Us Protect Your Rights
Police officers have the right to arrest someone without a warrant if they have good reason to suspect that domestic violence has occurred. Our Philadelphia legal team wants to ensure that your rights are protected during every step of the legal process—and that you avoid the worst of the penalties associated with domestic violence charges.
Investigating the Crime
The police and the prosecution have already investigated the charges against you and decided that you are guilty. Our team can:
- Review the case with a fresh eye
- Visit the scene of the alleged crime
- Speak with eyewitnesses and character witnesses about what happened and what kind of person you are
- Recruit experts to explain why it is more likely than not that you are innocent
- Communicate and exchange evidence with the prosecution
Minimize Or Eliminate the Charges
Once we have a better idea of your case’s specifics, we can decide how best to approach your defense. There are several potential ways that we can end the case without having to go to court. These include the following.
- Negotiate a plea: In this scenario, you would plead guilty to a lesser charge—for example, a misdemeanor instead of a felony. This way, you would be guaranteed to avoid the lengthy prison sentences and severe fines associated with a felony conviction.
- Get the charges reduced: Before defending you in court, we can bargain to reduce the charges against you. While we would continue to fight hard for an acquittal, you would have the peace of mind of knowing that a conviction would not cost you as much as it would have before the reduction.
- Ask that the charges be dropped: The prosecution only wants to go to court if they believe they have a good chance of winning. If we highlight substantial holes in their story—for example, potential police misconduct or the unreliability of a key witness—they may agree to drop the case.
Fight in Court
If we are unable to negotiate for lesser charges, or if we think you stand a better chance of success in court, we can present your case at trial. This may involve:
- Setting trial dates
- Preparing and submitting evidence as trial exhibits
- Preparing and presenting oral arguments
- Examining and cross-examining witnesses on the stand
- Objecting to prosecutorial evidence or behavior (if necessary)
- Appealing an unfavorable decision
Finally, we know how difficult it is to be facing criminal charges, especially a sensitive charge like domestic violence. We want to make the experience less stressful by:
- Keeping you updated on your case’s progress
- Being available to answer all questions
- Helping you make legal decisions
We Represent Those Accused of Domestic Violence
If you are facing domestic violence charges in Philadelphia, call the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, LLC. Members of our team are always standing by to provide free consultations to callers. After this consultation, you can make an appointment with our attorneys to determine the best way to fight the charges and penalties you face.