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Can I withdraw an allegation of domestic violence in Pennsylvania?

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Answered by: Lee Anthony Ciccarelli

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West Chester, PA
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Pennsylvania takes allegations of domestic violence very seriously. And for good reason. The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that one out of every four women and one of seven men have been physically abused by a partner. There are over 120 deaths in the state annually. The group also estimates that domestic violence costs the state over $150 billion throughout the lifetime of the issue. The statistics support the idea that these allegations should not be taken lightly.

Know your Rights, Speak to a Lawyer Today

As serious as domestic violence is, emotions can get out of control when two partners argue, especially when alcohol is involved. There have been days in our state when police have responded to almost 2,500 domestic violence calls. Police may arrive to a chaotic, confusing and potentially dangerous scene. Each side may accuse the other of abuse. In most cases, officers arrest one of the parties and let the court sort it out. This can lead to devastating consequences for the person charged.

Domestic violence Allegations Can Have Severe Consequences

Aggravated assault, assault and battery, and strangulation are common charges that are added to domestic violence offenses in Pennsylvania. When the police get a report that a violent act has been committed against a domestic partner, state law requires them to make the arrest. The prosecutor will then have to decide if charges are necessary. You, as the person who reported the incident, cannot drop the charges.

How does Pennsylvania define Domestic violence?

According to the state, domestic violence is “knowingly, intentionally or recklessly” causing a partner bodily harm. There will also be consideration if someone threatens bodily harm, sexual or nonsexual assault, sexual abuse of children or performing an act that could include the threat of bodily harm (including stalking). Common charges in Pennsylvania are assault, domestic violence and strangulation.

The acts can be against people who are cohabitating, family members, sexual partners and people who share biological parenthood. The consequences can include job loss, loss of civil rights, loss of parental rights and the stigma that a criminal record carries.

After accusers get control of their emotions, they frequently realize the severity of these charges and the lifelong impact these allegations can have. They realize these charges could permanently affect their partner. Many firms that take on these cases, including ours, are contacted by alleged victims who want to drop the charges. Unfortunately, that can be a difficult task.

Many people who make domestic violence allegations believe that if they just withdraw their statement (or say they changed their mind) the charges will simply disappear. Unfortunately, this is not the case. For the person accused, it is not up to their partner. The details of the case will also affect the penalties.

About 80 to 90 percent of domestic violence victims Recant

Recanting, or taking back an allegation, is generally not a good idea. The consequences for the person who recants could include criminal charges for falsifying information to law enforcement and the court. The repercussions of domestic assault allegations (and an attempt to withdraw them) can be confusing and emotionally challenging.

Your best defense starts when you hire an experienced attorney

If you were accused, or you want to withdraw the allegations, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to guide you through the legal process. They will help everyone involved move forward in a way that minimizes the consequences of domestic violence arrest. Learn more by contacting an experienced Pennsylvania lawyer for advice and representation on domestic violence, protection from abuse (PFA) and criminal defense matters. 

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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