Domestic violence is a term we are all familiar with but it can be useful to have a discussion of what the term refers in the legal sense and what the consequences are for domestic violence charges. Domestic violence can impact any family including families and individuals in many different situations.
Most of us have heard the phrase "innocent until proven guilty," as it plays an important role in the criminal justice system and has significant meaning for any individual who has been accused of a crime. The presumption of innocence is a paramount feature of the criminal justice process in the United States and serves to protect individuals who have been accused of committing a crime.
Even if you have heard of the crime of manslaughter, you might have a number of questions as to what the term manslaughter refers to and what manslaughter charges include.
Domestic violence charges are serious charges. In Pennsylvania, domestic violence charges are based on the circumstances and the standard charges include assault, aggravated assault or battery. It is up to the prosecution in Pennsylvania to determine if domestic violence charges will be pressed. Under Pennsylvania laws, domestic violence includes causing bodily injury; assault; or knowingly engaging in repeated conduct that creates the fear of bodily injury.
Previous blog posts explained the crimes of voluntary and involuntary manslaughter and discussed the legal defenses to voluntary manslaughter in Pennsylvania -- innocence, self-defense, insanity, accidental killing and involuntary intoxication. There are also several legal defenses available to defendants charged with involuntary manslaughter.
A previous blog post discussed the penalties for voluntary and involuntary manslaughter in Pennsylvania. A conviction for voluntary manslaughter carries a sentence of up to 20 years, while being convicted for involuntary manslaughter may carry a sentence of up to 5 years in prison. Certain aggravating or mitigating factors may lead to harsher or lesser sentences, depending on the circumstances of the crime and the defendant's criminal history, particularly violent crimes. A defendant may also assert several legal defenses to voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.
A previous blog post discussed the two types of manslaughter in Pennsylvania -- voluntary and involuntary. There is a different state of mind required for each.
A previous blog post discussed several defenses to robbery in the state, including that no theft was committed, the taking was not unlawful, the alleged robber received the owner's permission to take the property or that the alleged robber did not intend to permanently deprive the owner of their property. Defendants may also assert defenses to second or third-degree robbery, such as there was no infliction of bodily injury or the alleged victim was not placed in fear of injury by threats of violence, use of a weapon or otherwise.
In Pennsylvania, there are several types of homicide for which one may be charged, each being distinguished by the defendant's state of mind or level of involvement in the crime. Sentencing as well as the defenses to each also differ based on the circumstances of the case.