Established in 1976, the Domestic Abuse Project of Delaware County has been a resource for education and a provider of safety and supportive services for those victimized by domestic violence. Data shows that over 17% of students have incurred injuries resulting from acts of dating violence. Approximately 19% of women in Pennsylvania will be a victim of stalking at some point in their life. Roughly 25% of women and 11% of men endure “severe” incidents of intimate partner violence. In 2017 in Delaware County there was 1,930 Protection from Abuse (PFA) orders filed.
What is Domestic Violence?
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence defines these actions as intentional “intimidation, battery, sexual assault, and other abusive behavior” that occurs between intimate partners. It is described as often developing into a pattern of behavior where the abuser may assert power. It may include physical or sexual forms of violence, threatening, and psychological cruelty.
Charges in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania's statutory definition (§ 6102) explained that this is a form of abuse involving those in the same family or household, among intimate partners or people with common parenthood.
- Acts committed willingly or recklessly that create bodily harm, severe bodily injury, rape, forced intercourse, or sexual assault that may or may not involve a lethal weapon
- The abuser may create fear using the threat of bodily harm and may include “following” (stalking) an individual
- It may be demonstrated through false imprisonment
- May include physical or sexually-based abuse of minor children
Pennsylvania does not specifically have a criminal charge known as “domestic violence.” The state classifies the offense among one its charges that relate to violence. Some commonly used misdemeanor level charges include simple assault and recklessly endangering another person. These are both second-degree offenses that are punishable by a maximum of two years of incarceration and a $5,000 fine. Some of the commonly used felony level charges include aggravated assault, strangulation, and others that typically have relatively greater penalties.
The Pennsylvania Protection from Abuse Act
The Protection from Abuse Act was implemented by the state and allows for courts to swiftly issue civil orders of protection among family or household members, intimate partners, spouses, etc. A Protection from Abuse (PFA) order essentially prohibits the alleged abuser from contacting the alleged victim at their home, school, office, etc. These orders are initiated by filing a document with the Delaware County Court.
There are three potential types of PFA orders including:
- Emergency: These are typically implemented within one business day by a District Judge as a short-term measure
- Temporary: Are in force during the interim period before a hearing, which the court must hold within 10 days.
- Permanent: These are typically issued to span a period of several months following the PFA hearing
Other Conditions the Court May Impose
The courts have some latitude in the conditions that are added to protection orders. If there are minor children than generally an interim custody arrangement will be put in place. The court may allow periods of parent/child visitation, which may be in a supervised and secured environment if the court deems it to be necessary.
Delaware County Lawyer Defends Cases of Alleged Domestic Violence
Are you suddenly facing charges related to an incident of domestic violence? The Lento Law Firm provides aggressive legal representation and will work on your behalf through a protection order-related hearing(s) and criminal charges. To consult with a seasoned attorney, contact the office today at (888) 535-3686.