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:
- Lack of Intent.
- 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.