Domestic violence is a category of a crime involving violent criminal acts against a specific group of victims. When a person commits a violent crime against a person that falls into the category of "household member," Pennsylvania law will classify this as an act of domestic violence. Household members typically include a person's current or former spouse, current or former intimate partner, relative, parent, child, or individual they share a child with. Acts of domestic violence are treated more seriously in the eyes of the law than standard crimes and may carry increased penalties. Related consequences in family court may also result when a person is charged with a domestic violence offense. The Bucks County Court of Common Pleas, located in Doylestown, PA, will adjudicate these cases on both fronts in their appropriate divisions.
Bucks County Domestic Violence Crimes
There are a number of crimes that may be considered acts of domestic violence. Some common crimes that may constitute domestic violence include:
- Sexual Assault: Sexual assault consists of sexually-oriented contact against a victim without any consent being obtained
- Assault: Causing physical bodily harm to any degree, with or without a weapon is considered assault
- Rape: Engaging in non-consensual intercourse through the means of force or threats is considered rape
- False imprisonment: Confining a person against their will without the legal grounds or authority to do so is considered to be false imprisonment
- Child abuse: Any acts that are physically or sexually violent towards a child fall under the category of child abuse
- Pattern of abuse: A pattern of abuse is defined by repeated and consistent actions that cause bodily harm or fear of bodily harm. This is not necessarily a crime, but it can come up in court.
- Terroristic threats: Causing a person to fear imminent bodily harm can be considered a terroristic threat
Bucks County Police Actions in Domestic Violence Situations
Pennsylvania law provides increased authority for police officers responding to domestic violence reports. The law permits officers to make an arrest when officers believe that an act of domestic violence has occurred, even if they did not see the act happen. Officers will typically examine a scene for evidence such as broken objects, injuries to either party, and the like, and then make a judgment on the face value of the situation. A person can be arrested for a domestic violence charge without officers fully understanding the depth of the situation at hand. In addition, officers will make an arrest if it is found out that a person has broken the terms of a Protection from Abuse (PFA) order, regardless of what circumstances may have led them there.
After a Domestic Violence Arrest in Bucks County
Domestic violence charges in Bucks County will generally first be addressed at a preliminary hearing in one of the 20 Bucks 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 Bucks County District Attorney's Office, which is located in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.
At a domestic violence preliminary hearing in Bucks 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 domestic violence charges in Bucks County are "held for court" at a preliminary hearing, a formal arraignment date will be scheduled at the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas in Doylestown, 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 Bucks County 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 Bucks County Court of Common Pleas is located in the Bucks County Justice Center, 100 North Main Street, Doylestown, PA 18901.
Bucks County Domestic Violence Defense Attorney | Defense Lawyer for Domestic Violence in Doylestown
Domestic violence charges can result in more than just criminal matters. Domestic violence disputes can also carry over into the Bucks County Family Court. Consequences can include loss of custody, loss of the ability to own a firearm, among other concerns. Because of the complications that can arise from domestic violence charges, it is best to have these matters resolved with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
If you or a loved one is facing domestic violence charges in Doylestown or Bucks County, PA, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.