Domestic battery can be a serious crime to be accused of. Here is everything that you need to know about the penalties and possible defenses for domestic battery in Pennsylvania.
What relationships are “domestic” in Pennsylvania?
In order for a domestic battery to occur in Pennsylvania, it must come under what is considered to be a “domestic relationship” by Pennsylvania law. The broad definition of domestic relationships in Pennsylvania refers to people who live in the same household or are relatives.
Some examples of domestic relationships under Pennsylvania law are:
- Two people who are parenting a child
- Two people who are currently intimately dating/have formally dated
- Two people who used to parent a child together
- Two people who are married
Laws and penalties surrounding domestic battery in Pennsylvania
Domestic battery can come in many forms. Everything from sex crimes, intentionally causing bodily injury, strangulation, stalking, physically or sexually assaulting children, and reckless endangerment all are considered domestic battery in Pennsylvania.
The definition of domestic battery in Pennsylvania is that it must be a violent crime that was committed amongst domestic partners/relations. In order for the criminal offense to be considered a misdemeanor, it must:
- Count as a misdemeanor under federal, state, or tribal law
- There must be a weapon that was attempted, used, or threatened for physical force
- Must be committed amongst domestic partners or relations
Examples of misdemeanor crimes that fall under domestic violence include:
- Theft by deception
- Identity theft
- False reports of child abuse
- Corruption of minors
- Invasion of privacy
- Indecent assault
- Criminal coercion
- Terroristic threats
- Reckless endangerment
The more severe the case of domestic battery, the greater the chance a prosecutor will request a felony criminal charge. The charges for felonies can go from first degree all the way to third degree. This is because the domestic battery is not considered to be a separate charge; therefore, many felony charges can come under domestic battery if the felony is committed amongst domestic partners or those who live in the same household.
What are possible defenses for domestic battery in Pennsylvania?
Since the court understands that not all quarrels fall under domestic violence, there are defenses for domestic battery in Pennsylvania.
Intoxication and accidental cases
If the defendant admits to harming another individual, they can still build a solid defense if the defense also admits that although the victim did suffer an injury, it was either accidental or the defense was intoxicated. Accidental cases will remove the malicious intent often associated with domestic battery charges. Intoxication is also a viable defense because the court recognizes that individuals act differently under the influence of substances. Therefore, a domestic battery that occurs while intoxicated may not always be malicious, albeit still harmful.
Self-defense and provocation
While both of them are different, both are a reaction or responses to an action. Self-defense can be claimed for oneself or in the defense of others, such as dependents.
On the other hand, provocation is considered to be an action that could be justified in response to the victim’s action. While self-defense is a reaction that comes from an individual believing that their life is in danger, provocation is considered more in reaction to an act than out of fear.
To prove a false claim, the defendant must need proof that they did not commit domestic battery. In an effort to slander someone’s reputation, an individual may allege that an individual inflicted domestic violence upon them.
Pennsylvania Statute of Limitations for Domestic Battery
The statute of limitations for domestic battery in Pennsylvania is two years. An individual must file a claim of domestic battery before this deadline, or it will become difficult for the case to be heard in court.