What Happens if You’re Arrested for Domestic Violence in PA?
As one of the most disruptive events someone can experience, domestic violence often causes overwhelming feelings of uncertainty and fear. As the term “domestic” implies, your home, your relationships, and those closest to you are all affected, and without taking the proper steps after an arrest, the consequences can drastically change your life forever. If you or someone you know has been arrested for domestic violence, here is what you need to know about what happens next.
Although not a separate violation from other crimes of violence under Pennsylvania law, domestic abuse does make these charges more complicated. The person who makes the call to the police is automatically in a stronger position, since the police do not need to witness an act of violence in order to make an arrest. They will simply need to see the injury or other evidence of the victim’s claim.
And once the charges are filed, the alleged victim can not make the decision to have them dropped. If you are arrested for domestic violence, you will not be released until you go before a judge, as they will determine whether or not you present a danger to the alleged victims or others.
It’s also extremely important to remember that everything you say during an arrest can be held against you in court, so it is crucial that during this emotional time, you invoke your right to remain silent until you have an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side.
What Happens Next?
In all domestic violence cases, you will be required to attend a First Appearance, or Advisory Hearing, shortly after your arrest. To avoid making mistakes or implicating yourself of harsher penalties, you will want an attorney present with you during this hearing so do not delay in calling our offices after our arrest.
Before the hearing the prosecutor will conduct an investigation of your criminal history and other charges in your past to present before the judge. Reversely, your defense attorneys will review how the arrest took place and the injury or evidence in which the arrest occurred to then argue that the police lacked probable cause and ask the court to release your or that the judge set a bond.
The next step is an arraignment in where you will be required to enter an informal ‘not guilty’ plea. In many cases, your attorney will be present to do this on your behalf. A pre-trial conference will then occur, discussing the details of the claims to establish pre-trial offers by the government to resolve the case.
Our experienced domestic violence attorneys are often able to resolve the case before going to trial, but in some cases, you will have the right to elect to be tried by a judge and jury. Based on the outcome of this trial, there are options to pursue post-trial appeals through the Superior supreme courts in PA. At Bill Brennan law offices, our team will not stop fighting to protect your rights until you receive the outcome you deserve.
Protection From Abuse Order
An alleged victim may also apply for a Protection from Abuse (PFA) order in which there are various degrees of restrictions placed on the accused, such as entering the home of the victim or going places where the victim may be – similar to a restraining order. If there is a threat of immediate danger felt by the victim, they could pursue a temporary PFA, which would be granted at a hearing without the defendant present until another hearing with the defendant will occur.
The other option is a PFA with a hearing within 10 days of the filing of a petition in which the accused is welcome to attend and present a defense. If unsuccessful, the judge may grant a final protection from abuse order that could last up to three years.
Why Should You Fight a Domestic Violence Charge?
1. Your Freedom – you may be facing possible jail time if convicted of a felony charge
2. Your Relationships – you may lose the ability to have a relationship with your children, including loss of custody or limited visitation rights
3. Job & Housing Opportunities – many employers and landlords will conduct background checks and deny you the ability to work or live where you want
4. Employment Security – you could lose your existing job if you are in a field that involves the caretaking of others or the possession of firearms
5. Your Second Amendment Rights – likewise, your right to legally purchase firearms or ammunition in PA could be invalidated for life
6. Costs – fines and penalties can be very expensive and if the victim gets a PFA, you may also be responsible for losses they claim occurred from the abuse
If you or a loved one has been arrested for domestic violence, do not jeopardize your freedom, relationships or reputation by waiting to get the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Philadelphia. Our legal team will help you build a strong defense to fight for your rights. Contact us today.