Crimes of violence are typically taken very seriously in the eyes of the law, however, when these violent acts are directed towards certain individuals, Pennsylvania law may classify it as domestic violence, which can carry more serious consequences yet. When a victim of a violent act is considered a "household member," the crime will be prosecuted as a domestic violence crime. These crimes are typically treated with a greater deal of severity and may carrier heavier consequences upon conviction. In addition, domestic violence matters may complicate other areas of a person's life. The Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, located in Norristown, PA, will handle domestic violence disputes in both criminal court and family court as necessary.
Domestic Violence Crimes in Montgomery County
There are a number of crimes a person can commit that will fall under the umbrella of domestic violence. When a person commits a crime of violence against their household member, the court will prosecute it as a domestic violence crime. 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. Common forms of domestic violence include:
- Rape: Forcing non-consensual intercourse on someone through the use of force or threats is rape
- Sexual Assault: Any other forms of non-consensual sexual contact or conduct can fall under sexual assault
- Assault: Assault is causing of bodily harm to another individual, with or without any weapon
- Terroristic Threats: Making a terroristic threat involves causing someone to fear for their safety or fear imminent infliction of bodily harm
- Child Abuse: Physically or sexually abusive acts to individuals below the age of 18 are often considered acts of child abuse
- Pattern of Abuse: Consistent and repeated abusive actions or behaviors can be used to demonstrate a pattern of abuse in court, which may affect domestic violence proceedings.
Montgomery County Police Actions in Domestic Violence Situations
When a law enforcement officer responds to a situation that may be considered a domestic violence scenario, the law provides specific enhancements to their already strong authority. Police officers are permitted to make an arrest in situations where there believe domestic violence has occurred. They must obtain probable cause based on evidence at the scene, which can be anything from broken objects to injuries on either person. Officers will often make a quick judgement call based on initial appearances and make an arrest without fully assessing the situation. In any crime, there are two sides to every story and this is especially the case in a domestic violence dispute; every situation is different and cannot always be taken at face value. In addition, officers will make an arrest if it is believed that a person has broken the terms of a Protection from Abuse (PFA) order, regardless of the circumstances.
The Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas is located at 2 E. Airy Street, Norristown, PA 19401.
After a Domestic Violence Arrest in Montgomery County
Domestic violence charges in Montgomery County will generally first be addressed at a preliminary hearing in one of the 31 Montgomery 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 Montgomery County District Attorney's Office, which is located in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
At a domestic violence preliminary hearing in Montgomery 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 Montgomery County are "held for court" at a preliminary hearing, a formal arraignment date will be scheduled at the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas in Norristown, 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 Montgomery 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.
Montgomery County Domestic Violence Defense Attorney | Defense Lawyer for Domestic Violence in Norristown
Domestic violence crimes are complex in nature and in consequence. These incidents can often complicate a person's matters with any divorce or child custody disputes that are on-going and may also prevent a person from owning a firearm. Due to the far-reaching and difficult to foresee consequences of domestic violence accusations, it is best to have these matters resolved by an experienced criminal defense attorney.
If you or a loved one is currently facing domestic violence charges in Norristown or Montgomery County, PA, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.