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Pennsylvania Domestic Violence Laws

Overview of Pennsylvania Domestic Violence Laws

Domestic violence is not considered a separate charge from something like assault, aggravated assault or battery in Pennsylvania. Instead, there are merely additional considerations when the call is made regarding a domestic violence situation. In Pennsylvania, 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 that respond are required to make an arrest. Then, it is up to the prosecutor whether or not to press charges. The victim in the situation cannot decide to drop charges.

Pennsylvania law defines domestic abuse as knowingly, intentionally or recklessly causing bodily injury of any kind, causing fear of bodily injury of any kind, assault (sexual or not sexual), rape, sexually abusing minor children, or knowingly engaging in a repetitive conduct toward a certain person (i.e. stalking) that puts them in fear of bodily injury. These acts can take place between family or household members, sexual partners or those who share biological parenthood in order to qualify as domestic abuse.

Defenses to Domestic Violence Charges

  • Lack of knowledge
  • Lack of intent
  • No violence was committed
  • Insanity
  • Intoxication
  • Self-defense
  • Provocation

Penalties and Sentences

Laws regarding domestic violence have undergone many changes in Pennsylvania in recent years. The penalties for domestic violence can range from being ordered to take anger management courses or counseling to felony charges and incarceration. The sentence imposed will depend largely on the severity of the abuse the victim endured and the defendant's pattern of conduct. If this is the defendant's first time being charged with domestic violence, that will be treated with a lighter sentence than perhaps a defendant who has been charged with domestic violence several times in the past.

Pennsylvania Domestic Violence Statute

Pennsylvania Domestic Violence Statute
Pennsylvania Statutes, Title 23, Sections 6102 and 6113 (Scroll down to sections 6102 and 6113)

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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