While the law takes a heavy-handed approach towards any crime, when the crime is considered an act of domestic violence, a person may face increased sentencing and several other effects from a conviction. Domestic violence is defined by violent or abusive criminal acts towards a victim that fits into the category of a "household member." A household member is classified as a person's immediate family, current or former spouse or intimate partner, a person with whom they share a child, parent, or child. In Northampton County, acts of domestic violence have consequences under two areas of the law: criminal law and family law. The Northampton County Court of Common Pleas, located in Easton, PA, will resolve the dispute on both of these fronts within its appropriate divisions.
Domestic Violence Crimes in Northampton County
Pennsylvania law classifies certain specific acts as domestic violence crimes when committed against household members. Common examples of domestic violence crimes include:
- Assault: Any actions that cause bodily harm or serious bodily harm with or without a weapon are typically considered assault.
- Rape: The act of engaging in non-consensual intercourse with someone through force or threat is the crime of rape
- Sexual Assault: Sexual assault is any sexual contact that is non-consensual
- False Imprisonment: This crime occurs when a person is kept confined within a certain space without the legal authority or proper grounds
- Terroristic Threats: When a person is caused to fear for their safety or is caused to fear imminent bodily harm, the person causing this fear may be charged with this crime
- Abuse to a Child: When any physically or sexually violent crimes occur towards children it may fall under the category of child abuse
- A pattern of abuse: If a person displays consistent and repeated abusive acts or domestic violence acts, it may be considered a pattern of abuse, which may come up in court
Northampton County Police Action in Domestic Violence Cases
Pennsylvania law grants special abilities for police to make an arrest when responding to alleged domestic violence situations. In certain cases, police officers will have an authority to make an arrest based on their own judgment, even if they did not see a crime take place. Officers may make an arrest when they believe there is sufficient evidence to indicate that domestic violence took place. This is based on anything in the immediate surroundings, along with any injuries to both parties. Police officers may misunderstand a situation and simply make an arrest out of an instant judgment, without taking the full situation into account. Allegations that a Protection from Abuse order / PFA order was violated will generally result in an immediate arrest and criminal contempt charges.
After a Domestic Violence Arrest in Northampton County
Domestic violence charges in Northampton County will generally first be addressed at a preliminary hearing in one of the 14 Northampton County Magisterial District Courts. A magisterial district justice will preside over the matter, and the case against the person charged with domestic violence offenses will be prosecuted by a representative of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; generally an assistant district attorney from the Northampton County District Attorney's Office, which is located in Easton, Pennsylvania.
At a domestic violence preliminary hearing in Northampton County, charges can be dismissed, withdrawn, or "held for court," meaning that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has met their burden against the defendant and that the case will move forward. If a domestic violence offense in Northampton County is "held for court" at a preliminary hearing, a formal arraignment date will be scheduled at the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas in Easton, PA. Thereafter, a domestic violence case will generally either go to trial or be resolved through non-trial disposition, which is generally through an agreement between the Northampton District Attorney's Office, the defendant, the defendant's attorney, and the judge. At the applicable time, domestic violence charges may also be withdrawn or dismissed in some instances.
The Northampton County Court of Common Pleas is located at 669 Washington Street, Easton, PA 18042.
Northampton County Domestic Violence Defense Attorney | Defense Lawyer for Domestic Violence in Easton
Criminal charges are complex enough on their own, however, domestic violence charges can make these situations significantly more complicated. A person facing domestic violence charges may face adverse effects in the field of family law, and may no longer be able to retain possession of any firearms they own. An experienced criminal defense attorney can make sure all sides of the story are heard.