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Pennsylvania Domestic Abuse Laws and How to Get Help for Domestic Abuse


In Pennsylvania, domestic abuse is not regarded as a distinct charge from criminal offenses such as a battery or aggravated assault. The article deals with various aspects of domestic abuse law in detail in the State of Pennsylvania.

Domestic Abuse Laws in State Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, domestic violence/abuse is defined as any of the acts mentioned below, which has been committed between household or family members, intimate or sexual partner, or persons having a kid in common:

  • False imprisonment.
  • Sexually or physically abusing a minor kid.
  • Causing reasonable fear in another person’s mind about imminent severe physical injury.
  • Recklessly or purposefully causing or trying to cause physical injury, rape, severe bodily injury, involuntary sexual intercourse, statutory sexual assault, incest without or with a dangerous weapon, or aggravated indecent assault, or
  • Involved in conduct or repeatedly committing activities under certain circumstances that make the person fearful of bodily injury.

According to the state law, household or family members refer to former or current spouses, people who were or are spouses, kids and parents, other people related by marriage or blood, former or current or sexual partners, or people having a kid in common.

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Restraining or Protection Order in Pennsylvania

To award the victim protection from being abused, a judge may award an order that includes provisions such as:

  • Forbid the domestic abuser from abusing minor kids or the plaintiff.
  • Grant the plaintiff to enjoy the sole possession of the house or direct the accused to arrange for suitable alternate residence.
  • Grant temporary child visitation or custody rights of a minor kid to the plaintiff.
  • Direct the abuser to arrange for financial assistance for the plaintiff, as well as, their minor kids in case the former has the duty of doing so.
  • Direct the accused to turn over firearms temporarily and any other weapons threatened to be utilized or used in an incident related to domestic violence/abuse.
  • Forbid the accused from keeping the contact of any kind with the minor kids or the plaintiff, which may include restricting the abuser from entering into the minor kids or the plaintiff’s school or workplace and prohibiting the accused from harassing the victim, the relatives of the victim, or minor kids.
  • Forbid the abuser from harassing and stalking the defendant.
  • Ask the accused to pay the losses incurred due to domestic violence to the defendant such as dental and medical expenses, counseling expenses, relocation expenses, replacement or repair of any personal property that was damaged by the abuser, and
  • Any other relevant relief that the plaintiff requests the court in Pennsylvania.

Sentences and Punishments

The recent years have witnessed several changes in the laws related to domestic violence in Pennsylvania. The punishments for being convicted in a case of domestic abuse can vary from being directed to attend counseling sessions or an anger management course to incarceration and felony charges.

The court will impose the sentence based on how severe domestic violence was and the pattern of conduct of the defendant.

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Possible Defenses to the Defendant in Domestic Violence Charge

  • Provocation.
  • Self-defense.
  • Intoxication.
  • Insanity.
  • Violence was not committed.
  • Lack of intent.
  • Lack of knowledge.

Pennsylvania Domestic Abuse Statistics

According to Domestic Abuse Statistics of the state, 123 people died being subjected to incidents of domestic violence in 2018. Also, 1 in every 4 women, as well as, 1 in every 7 men were subjected to serious physical violence by their intimate partners.

How to Get Help for Domestic Abuse in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, a victim of domestic violence or abuse can contact the following organizations to get help and support:

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline.
  • Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
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