Domestic Violence & Immigration

Domestic violence is something the state of Pennsylvania takes very seriously. If you are arrested and charged with a domestic violence crime, you could face jail time, a permanent criminal record, and almost certainly distress and emotional damage in your family and friendships. Unfortunately, there are some incentives for immigrants to the United States to make false claims.

What is Domestic Violence and Why Would Immigrants Make False Claims?

Domestic violence often falls in a gray area of the law. When most people hear “domestic violence” the image conjured is that of someone who has been brutally beaten by someone they love. In reality, if your spouse or partner changes the channel during the big game and you get angry and throw the remote, you could be charged with domestic violence. You could also be charged with domestic violence if your girlfriend wants to break up and, in a moment of panic, you threaten them with physical violence. And if you are convicted of either charge, you could face penalties.

Pennsylvania imposes serious penalties on people who are found guilty of domestic violence. Unfortunately, not all domestic violence allegations are true.

There's an additional incentive for immigrants, whether legal or illegal, to make false charges of domestic violence: doing so can help them get a visa to stay in the United States. There is a green card known to bureaucrats and applicants as the “U” visa that allows victims of certain crimes, including stalking and domestic violence, to stay in the U.S. legally, and ultimately gain citizenship, if they help law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution.

Created as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, the U visa allows the supposed victims to remain in the U.S. while they're helping law enforcement officers. After they're done helping, they become eligible for lawful permanent resident status.

The U visa was created with good intentions. It exists to protect women and children who are victims of crimes like human trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual assault, but are afraid to report the crimes due to deportation fears. Unfortunately, immigration scammers have figured out how to manipulate it for their own uses.

An innocent person who has been falsely accused of domestic violence can suffer penalties that were never intended for someone like them if they don't have a lawyer who knows how to help them defeat the charges and clear their name.

Domestic Violence Laws and Penalties in Pennsylvania

According to Pennsylvania law, domestic abuse is defined as knowingly, intentionally or recklessly causing bodily injury of any kind, causing fear of bodily injury of any kind, assault, rape, sexually abusing minor children, or knowingly engaging in repetitive conduct such as stalking that puts someone in fear of bodily injury.

To be considered domestic violence in Pennsylvania, the two people involved have to have one of several specific, defined relationships. These are:

· Married or formerly married couples

· Parents of the same child

· Co-habitants, or people who used to live together

· Current or former dating partners

In Pennsylvania, when an alleged victim calls the police and says that a member of his or her household has committed an act of violence against them, the police are required to make an arrest. After the arrest, it's up to the prosecutor whether or not to charge the accused person with a crime.

Many domestic violence crimes can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies. The penalties can range from being ordered to take an anger management class to prison time. The sentence will mostly depend on what the alleged abuser is accused of and if the accused has ever been accused before. A defendant who is charged with domestic violence for the first time will likely receive a lighter sentence than a defendant who has been charged with domestic violence several times in the past.

Why Some People Make False Allegations

It is often difficult to understand why someone would falsely accuse someone else, particularly someone they love, of domestic violence. If you have been falsely accused, it's important that you not confront your accuser, even though you probably want to. Confronting your accuser could lead to more conflict and more charges against you. Instead, you should quickly hire a defense attorney to address the false charges without making things worse for you.

There are many reasons why false domestic violence allegations are made, and a false claim to get a green card is just one of them. Regardless of the reason, the allegations can be devastating and can ruin the life of the accused. It's important that someone who has been falsely accused of domestic violence seek immediate legal assistance to keep a bad situation from becoming much worse.

Clearing Your Name

With the help of an experienced lawyer, the lies and inconsistencies in your accuser's story can be brought to light. Sometimes an accuser will seem convincing to the police who arrive at the scene, but his or her story will fall apart when they are questioned by a lawyer. That's why you need to hire someone who has experience defending people who have been falsely accused as soon as possible.

The Lento Law Firm Can Help You

Being falsely accused of a domestic violence crime is one of the most stressful things that can happen to someone. A conviction can lead to jail time and fines and just being accused can damage your reputation, hurt your relationships with family and friends, possibly put your job in jeopardy, and make it difficult for you to get visitation with or custody of your children. If you have been falsely accused of domestic violence by an immigrant who is manipulating the system, you probably feel betrayed, conned, hurt, and angry. You need to know that this is not your fault and that help is available.

You need to hire an experienced defense lawyer who will work tirelessly to clear your name. Attorney Joseph Lento understands what you're going through and has the experience to help you out of this situation and help you get your life back to normal.

Contact the Lento Law Firm today at (215) 535-5353 to schedule your initial domestic violence case evaluation.

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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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