Police departments in Pennsylvania and other states take domestic violence very seriously. In fact, some of them have laws in place that make arresting the “primary aggressor” of a dispute mandatory.
In Pennsylvania, if an officer has probable cause to believe someone committed an act of domestic violence (e.g. simple assault, aggravated assault, stalking, reckless endangerment, terroristic threats, or involuntary manslaughter) within the last 72 hours or there are signs of physical injury, the police must make an arrest. In addition, the officer can make an arrest without a warrant and does not need to witness the alleged offense before arresting the alleged offender.
After an arrest, the police will seize any guns, ammunition, or other weapons owned by the alleged offender or involved in the dispute. From there, the state prosecutors will determine whether to press charges or drop the case.
One of the most important things to understand is that the alleged victim of the situation cannot have the charges dropped. Even though many disputes result in immediate regret expressed by both parties, there are also situations where someone has physical, emotional, and/or financial power over another person and force them to have the charges dropped, which is why the court does not want to give alleged victims such a burden.
The charges and penalties a person can face are based on the seriousness of the alleged crime, his/her criminal history, and behavior over time. A first offense is often treated lighter compared to someone with multiple offenses.
While domestic violence is a serious national issue, false accusations often occur as well. Since police officers can arrest someone without witnessing the actual crime take place, all it may take is your word against someone else’s to end up spending the night or the weekend behind bars.
If you or a loved one has been accused of domestic violence in Scranton or Lackawanna County, contact the Law Offices of William D. Thompson at 570-846-2819 for a free consultation and learn about your legal options.