Once someone accuses you of domestic violence, things will move fast, and before you know it, it can change your life in several ways.
When the police answer a domestic violence call in Pennsylvania, they do not have to make an arrest, but they can do so if they see evidence that a violent act has occurred. They will explain to the alleged victim their rights, which include:
- Filing a restraining order against you
- Seeking a safe shelter
So, pretty quickly, you could find your partner and child have left the family home and you are forbidden from going near them. Even if they stay put, you would be unable to see them if they get a restraining order. That can extend to banning you from going to your partner’s workplace or your child’s school. Any custody rights you have may also be suspended, at least temporarily.
A court can restrict your firearm rights
A judge can order you to turn in your firearms and ammunition if they issue you with a Protection from Abuse Order (PFA). The law changed in 2019, removing the ability to give them to friends or family for safekeeping. Now you can only give them to law enforcement, licensed dealers, certified armories or an attorney.
What if the alleged victim says nothing happened?
It is often the neighbors that call the police. Regardless of who rings, once the police arrive, things can proceed even if the alleged victim does not want to go ahead or does but later changes their mind. State prosecutors may proceed against their wishes. This is a safeguarding measure because many actual victims try to protect their abusers and later suffer further harm.
If you face domestic violence accusations, the sooner your ring for legal help, the more chance you have of stopping the consequences from escalating.