West Chester, PA Domestic Violence Attorney
Domestic violence (violence among family or household members) is terrifying. Hardly a day goes by where Domestic Violence is not mentioned in the news or on the internet. West Chester Police take these situations very seriously and often times are required by law to separate the combatants and charge who they perceive to be the aggressor. You may feel like the police officer did not even listen to your side of the story. If you are charged in one of these incidents it may seem like you were convicted from the moment the police arrived and spoke to the accuser. You still have rights, and you need an experienced and aggressive trial attorney to help protect your rights.
Experienced and Aggressive West Chester Defense.
You have rights, and you need to protect them. You need an experienced trial attorney standing next to you, someone that you can trust to handle your case and be there at every proceeding that the Commonwealth throws at you. As both a Bucks County Prosecutor and West Chester Criminal Defense Attorney Ryan Hyde has handled hundreds of domestic cases. His experience as a prosecutor has given him insight into how police officers and prosecutors treat and investigate these cases. More importantly, it has given him the insight into how to make sure the Commonwealth is held to its burden. Just because you are charged does not mean the Commonwealth can prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and you need an experienced and aggressive trial attorney to help you in your fight.
What, at first glance to a police officer, appears to be domestic violence, could be many other things. Simple misunderstandings can be blown out of proportion, an argument could cause a neighbor to call the police, that officer could arrive and the accuser says something he or she doesn’t mean. Then things quickly get out of control. Worse, often times in divorce proceedings false claims can be made in order to gain leverage or a Protection From Abuse order which could alter the disposition of a divorce. You need an aggressive and experienced attorney who knows how to separate the facts from the fiction and guide you and your case through the criminal justice system.
If you are arrested for domestic violence in Chester County or Montgomery County, there are certain things you should remember to do:
- Refrain from talking to police until you have contacted an attorney.
- Take photos of any bruises, cuts or other injuries you have suffered in a domestic altercation. Police may take photos of your injuries. Many times bruises and injuries go unseen by police officers until the day after. Make sure you take pictures from different angles and make sure they are date and time stamped.
- Follow no contact orders. In almost every incident a judge will order as a condition of your bail that you have no contact with the accuser. Even if the accuser calls you and asks you to return, or you need to stop home to retrieve a few possessions, violating these orders could result in your bail being revoked and more serious penalties. This means no phone calls, no visits and not contacting through friends.
- Do not attempt to influence the accuser to withdraw charges. While it may be tempting to try, its important to understand that the accuser does not control the charges in the case. Even if the accuser decides he/she does not want to proceed the Commonwealth will still file and prosecute charges. Worse, if the Commonwealth can show that you attempted to influence the accuser they could bring felony charges for tampering with a witness.
Common Domestic Violence Charges in Chester County and Montgomery County
The police commonly file several charges when they are called to the scene of alleged Domestic Violence. If convicted, you could have to serve sentences of serious jail time and fines in addition to any civil penalties:
Domestic Assault (18 Pa.C.S. 2702)
If you have been charged with assault in Chester or Montgomery County, the police are alleging that you intentionally caused or attempted to cause bodily harm to another person. They may also be alleging that you put another person in imminent fear of bodily harm, even though you may not have actually touched them. In Pennsylvania a Simple Assault is most likely a second degree misdemeanor, which could result in a sentence of up to two years in jail and a fine up to $5,000.
If the police observe injuries that were serious, they may file Aggravated Assault charges. which are a first degree felony. In Pennsylvania Aggravated Assault is most likely a first degree felony, which could result in a sentence of up to twenty (20) years in jail and a fine up to $25,000.
Stalking (18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2709.1)
If you have been charged with Stalking in Chester or Montgomery County, the police are alleging that you communicated repeatedly or acted multiple times in such a way as to cause another person serious emotion distress. You could also act in such a way as to place a person in a reasonable fear of serious bodily injury.
In Pennsylvania Stalking is a first degree misdemeanor, which could result in a sentence of up to five years in jail and a fine up to $10,000. If the prosecutor can prove that a defendant repeatedly communicated with the victim, it may be a third degree felony, which could result in a sentence of up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Terroristic Threats (18 Penn. Cons. Stat. § 2706)
Terroristic Threats sounds scary and is often times a misunderstood charge. If you have been charged with Terroristic Threats in Chester or Montgomery County, the police are alleging that you threatened someone with violence, either directly or indirectly, with the intent to terrorize that person. Additionally, the police could allege you did it to cause an evacuation or some other public inconvenience. In Pennsylvania Terroristic Threats is a first degree misdemeanor, which could result in a sentence of up to five years in jail and a fine up to $10,000.
If Chester or Montgomery County police are alleging that the assault was committed on a child, the penalties could be up to five years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. Pennsylvania law does allow a parent to spank their child, but if that punishment goes to far the police can charge the parent with assault. It is also important to note that more often than not you will be investigated by the county Children and Youth authorities. In these situations are critical to have an attorney protecting your rights.
Endangering the Welfare of a Child (18 Pa. C.S. § 4304)
If you have been charged with Endangering the Welfare of a Child in Chester or Montgomery County, it means that the police are alleging you violated some duty of a care for a child you were in custody of. For instance, if you are a parent with custody of a child, then you have a duty to care for that child. This charge is a catch all but it is best to think of in the sense that the accused, a parent, put the child in a position that the child could get seriously injured.
In Pennsylvania a single incident of Endangering the Welfare of a Child is a first degree misdemeanor, which could result in a sentence of up to five years in jail and a fine up to $10,000. If the prosecutor can prove a pattern of endangerment, it may be a third degree felony, which could result in a sentence of up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.