Violence Against Family Members May Lead to Domestic Violence Charges

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Jul 07, 2023 | 0 Comments

In 2019, Kenneth Burdick called Allegheny County police and reported that he had just killed his mother, beating her and throwing her down a flight of stairs. Despite a history of disturbances at home, no party had put a Protection from Abuse (PFA) order in place. While family or domestic violence often deals with spousal or intimate partner abuse, family violence also includes parents, children, and other relatives.

Family Violence Statistics

Family violence accounted for 11% of all violence in a 5-year study, and while half of this was spousal violence, the remainder was against sons, daughters, parents, and other family members. In a particularly chilling statistic, the study also reported that among incidents of parents killing children, 1 in 5 involved killing multiple victims.

Domestic Violence Against a Family Member

In PA, the Domestic Violence laws cover violence between people who are related by sanguinity (blood) or affinity (in-laws) or those who share a parent-child relationship or who are biological parents of a child. This extremely broad definition of domestic violence may lead to unexpected charges.

Domestic Violence may Include:

  • Causing bodily injury, rape, assault or incest.
  • Placing another in fear of serious bodily injury.
  • False imprisonment.
  • Physical or sexual abuse of a child.

Penalties for Domestic Violence Conviction

The penalties for Domestic Violence convictions in PA include:

  • Prison or jail time, ranging from 1 year (misdemeanor) to 20 years (felony).
  • Fines, ranging from $2500 to $25,000.
  • Probation, in varying lengths.
  • The loss of the right to possess a firearm.
  • The potential loss of child custody or visitation rights.

“Stay Away” and PFA Orders

If you are charged with domestic violence, the Court may enter a “stay away” order, prohibiting contact with your accuser and sometimes preventing you from living in your prior home. A Protection from Abuse (PFA) is a similar order that the court may enter for up to 3 years on behalf of the alleged victim. Whether you are issued a temporary or final PFA, the court can order you to hand over any firearms in your possession. The Lento Law Firm Team is available to assist in placing or defending a PFA in Pennsylvania.

Defending Charges of Family Member Violence

Because the potential consequences of a domestic violence conviction are so serious, the person charged is entitled to a defense. Experienced counsel will be able to get the best possible outcome for each situation. A person accused of domestic violence may present the following defenses:

  1. Self-Defense.
  2. Lack of Intent.
  3. Failure to state a statutory violation.

Experienced counsel may challenge the credibility of witnesses to establish that allegations are false or to significantly reduce the severity of charges.

The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team can help those charged with domestic violence and other serious charges protect their freedom and reputations and save careers and family relationships. If you are facing domestic violence allegations, you need experienced counsel immediately to protect your rights. Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 or contact us online.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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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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