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Understanding Pennsylvania’s Domestic Violence Laws

Domestic violence can take many forms in Pennsylvania. In fact, as explained by FindLaw, there is no criminal charge for domestic violence per se. There are instead a number of criminal charges that may be brought against an alleged perpetrator who uses threats or intimidation against someone in the same family or actually harms such a person.

Pennsylvania’s Protection From Abuse Act defines domestic abuse as any of the following actions by one member of a family against another:

  • Rape, spousal sexual assault, deviant sexual intercourse, bodily injury
  • A course of conduct causing the person to be in reasonable fear of bodily injury
  • False imprisonment
  • Sexual or physical child abuse

Related specific charges

Criminal charges often associated with domestic abuse include the following:

  • Domestic assault
  • Sexual assault
  • Criminal trespass
  • Kidnapping
  • Stalking
  • Violating a protective order
  • Endangering the welfare of a child

Certain types of harassment, such as threatening letters, phone calls, faxes, emails, voicemails or texts, also can be domestic violence. Financial demands or the withholding of financial support likewise can be domestic violence.

Available protections

The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence lists several protections available to victims of domestic violence. One of the most popular is the Address Confidentiality Program which provides a victim with a secret and confidential address to use. Another protection is the Child Protective Services Law that requires employees of certain facilities and organizations, such as hospitals, shelters, domestic violence and/or rape crisis centers, to report any instances of suspected domestic violence.

The Pennsylvania Victims Compensation Assistance Program pays for domestic violence victims and their children to receive medical care and counseling. It also provides money for victims to pay expenses associated with loss of support, stolen cash, cleanup of a crime scene, a funeral, and/or having to relocate for their own safety and that of their family.

For more information, contact Louis Wm. Martini, attorney at law.