Violent acts committed by a family or household member against another are known as domestic violence. It can be a form of child abuse or the mistreatment of one’s spouse. The term is generally applied violent acts done to any partners — married or unmarried, straight or gay, living together or simply dating.
Also called as spousal abuse, domestic violence involves the repetition of physical and psychological abuse that is a series of violence. Specific crimes are charged separately based on (1) how severe severity is the victim’s injuries, (2) whether a minor is present during the act, and 3) whether a protective or restraining order was violated.
Any person can become a domestic violence offender or victim. In fact, rape, murder and even stalking can be a type of domestic violence; however, the most common forms are the lesser types of physical abuse as slapping and pushing.
Domestic violence is a distinct crime
Most states consider domestic violence as a distinct crime. A suspect who strikes his/her spouse or partner may be charged with domestic violence instead of assault and battery. Domestic abusers take advantage of the trust and confidence they have from their victim, so after a conviction, prosecutors often push for sentences that are harsher sentence than assault-type crimes that involved two strangers.
Forms of Domestic Violence
There are many forms of abuse under domestic violence:
- Physical abuse as battering, biting, hitting, punching, slapping, shoving, and others inflicted on the victim.
- Sexual abuse happens when the abuser attempts to coerce the victim into having sexual contact or sexual behavior without the victims consent.
- Emotional abuse occurs when the accused invalidates or deflated the victim’s sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem.
- Economic abuse takes place when the abuser makes or tries to make the victim financially reliant.
Pennsylvania and domestic violence
The Protection from Abuse Act (PFA) of Pennsylvania establishes a state-wide legal plan to protect family members and current or ex- partners from domestic violence that is not just limited to physical abuse under the act.
Protected under PFA are individuals who live or have lived with the victim; although it is not necessary that the victim has to reside in the same residence as the abuser to qualify as a household member. For instance, the PFA protects victims from abuse by a sibling who doesn’t live with the victim, as well as a current of former sexual partner that never lived with the victim.
Protection for the abused
The PFA is issued by the Pennsylvania courts when there has been threatened or actual abuse by a family member or household member. If the abuser is an individual who was not a household member as defined above, a stalking protection order can be issued.
Pennsylvania Coalition domestic violence advocated are well-trained and available 24/7 to support, issue referral information and lend assistance to anyone suffering from domestic violence. All services are given free and strictly confidential.
Abusers of domestic violence can fight charges by claiming and proving:
(1) lack of knowledge; (2) lack of intent; (3) no violence committed; (4) insanity plea; (5) impaired with alcohol (6) act of self-defense; and ( being provoked.
Penalties in Pa.
In recent years, laws involving domestic violence in Pa. have undergone many changes.
Penalties for domestic violence can include being ordered to take anger management courses or attend counseling, incarceration, or felony charges. The degree of sentence imposed depends largely on the seriousness of the abuse the victim suffered and the defendant’s pattern of conduct. If this is the defendant’s first time for charges of domestic violence, his/her will penalty will be lighter than those who have been charged with domestic violence several times in the past.
The best option to face domestic violence charges is to hire a criminal lawyer who has all the expertise to help you overcome or minimize the penalties.