A resident of Lancaster County might not realize how easy it is to get charged with assault, battery or other crimes related to domestic violence.
In some cases, a person might make a serious mistake in the heat of a family squabble or a tense situation with one’s ex.
In other situations, though, a person might have a motive to make up or exaggerate a person’s behavior. Allegations of abuse often emerge, for example, during a divorce or custody proceeding.
Unfortunately, it can be hard for police and prosecutors to sort out the truth. They may jump to conclusions and accuse someone of domestic violence when that person does not deserve it.
Even for someone who has never faced a criminal charge before, a crime related to domestic violence is a serious matter. Jail, mandatory counseling, fines, protective orders and other penalties are always a possibility.
However, even if a person can convince a prosecutor to take most if not all of these penalties off of the table, there are still many long-term consequences to a domestic violence conviction.
Certain types of criminal convictions can mean a parent won’t get custody
Under Pennsylvania law, some criminal convictions can make it very difficult for a parent to get child custody. Some of these offenses get charged in domestic violence cases. Moreover, in all child custody proceedings, a judge will consider evidence of domestic violence before making a decision.
Someone who has a domestic violence conviction may have to surrender firearms
Both state and federal laws might prohibit a person convicted of a domestic violence crime from owning or keeping his firearms.
There are other potentially serious consequences to domestic violence convictions as well. Those who are not United States citizens and those who work in certain professions, for example, will want to understand all the implications if they are charged with a crime related to domestic violence.
Any resident of the Lancaster area faced with a criminal charge of this sort should evaluate her options for mounting a defense.