Pennsylvania addresses violence within dating relationships with severe punishments. Even the lowest charge of a third-degree misdemeanor carries one year of jail time. Emotions are often running high after instances of domestic violence. While many believe charges can only be pursued on married individuals, think again. The nature of dating is legally defined. Just because you haven't known the other person for a long time, any turbulence within the relationship can be construed as criminal action.
What is the Legal Definition of 'Dating?'
The U.S. Department of Justice asserts that anyone dating "is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature." The existence of such a relationship will be determined on the following factors:
- Length of the relationship
- Type of relationship
- Frequency of interaction between the parties involved in the relationship
Dating violence is any abuse within the confines of the aforementioned relationship. However, dating violence is a term used more within educational institutions. The Pennsylvania court system treats them the same way as domestic violence.
How Does Pennsylvania Handle Dating/Domestic Violence Allegations?
Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 23 §6102 defines domestic violence as any of several acts occurring against a member of one's family or household, a sexual or intimate partner, or someone with whom the alleged offender has a child in common. Acts constituting domestic violence include:
- Causing reasonable fear of imminent physical harm
- Committing or attempting to commit acts of assault—sexual or non-sexual
- Knowingly or recklessly attempting or causing bodily injury
- Harassment or stalking
- Physical or sexual abuse against a minor
These acts will likely lead to an arrest if the responding officers can corroborate an incident. However, charges can be filed even if no physical contact is made.
Can Dating/Domestic Violence Occur Without In-Person Contact?
Many of the behaviors listed above can meet the criteria for domestic violence but do not involve making physical contact. Sometimes, a partner in a dating relationship could use such behaviors to allege abuse, even if that wasn't the intention.
For example, you and your partner may have an argument where something said could be interpreted as a threat of physical harm even if it wasn't meant that way. Also, sending a partner multiple phone calls, text messages, or emails could be construed as harassment or stalking.
What Should You Do If Dating/Domestic Violence Is Alleged?
Instances of violence within a relationship often lead to a Protection from Abuse Order—Pennslyvania's version of a restraining order— even if charges are not filed or pursued. It's critical to obey the court's ruling because even though a restraining order is a civil action, violating it is criminal.
While you may think you can smooth things over with your partner, it can be used as incriminating evidence in a subsequent trial. Domestic violence convictions will ruin your reputation and cause massive challenges in applying to schools, jobs, and professional licenses, among others. Therefore, if you're alleged to have committed violence within a dating relationship, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.
How Can Attorney Joseph D. Lento Help in Cases Involving Dating/Domestic Violence?
Attorney Joseph D. Lento understands that while the judge has the right to impose the maximum sentence for any criminal conviction, in many cases, punishments can be mitigated. There are alternatives available that may help you avoid jail time, especially with first-time offenders, such as:
- Deferred adjudication
- Fines and fees
- No-contact Orders
Only a proven attorney knows how to defend you against severe sanctions that will derail your future. Don't wait until it's too late to retain an attorney with the skills to safeguard your rights and reputation. Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team at the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or visit the confidential online consultation form.
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