Domestic violence in Pennsylvania
As a Pittsburgh domestic violence attorney here in western PA, I am posed with various questions on the topic. There is one question, above all, that must be asked, however. And that is the question of self-defense. I have found that many domestic violence cases where one party calls the police against another, they do so in an effort to mask their guilt. Too often, one party attacks another and the person being attacks acts in self-defense; the initial attacker then shows signs of injury and contacts the police, and the person defending his- or herself goes to jail. In Pennsylvania, if you are in a situation where you can get away, it is the law that you do. This is what is called your “duty to retreat.” The duty to retreat should be addressed in instances of domestic violence. However, many men and women are put in situations where they cannot get out of the situation, or where they find it would be unsafe to leave because of children in the home. If you are ultimately forced to defend yourself against your significant other, and he or she ends up calling the police and they come to your home to arrest you, you can say you acted in self-defense. The officers may arrest you if they think you were the enactor, or they may remove you from the situation in order to keep you and the other person safe. There are other things to consider if you’ve been arrested for domestic violence. If your partner has threatened you in the past, making you quicker to defend yourself if they come at you, that can be used to your favor in court. Of course, it’s always better to leave a situation before an argument elevates and get physical, but if we can prove that you acted in self-defense, then your chances of having the charges dropped are exponentially better. Even if the other party was seriously hurt, as long as you acted in self-defense, a judge and jury will be asked to consider several things. The other party’s history of violence, what they did to make you defend yourself, and whether or not you were defending someone else, such as your children, should all be taken into consideration during negotiations and litigation. If you have more questions about domestic violence in Pennsylvania, call Pittsburgh domestic violence attorney Gary Gerson at (412) 281-3380 for a free consultation.