Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

Based in Pittsburgh, PA

412-344-4900

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Pittsburgh Domestic Violence Lawyer

Child Custody: Corporal Punishment

In child custody litigation, parents are under a microscope. But the court isn’t the only one watching you closely. Your ex is paying close attention too. Your ex may be willing to tell the court anything that brings your integrity as a parent into question, especially the use of corporal punishment.

Although Pennsylvania permits the use of corporal punishment, the standard for deciding custody cases is “the best interests of the child,” which includes the child’s physical and emotional health. Accusations of excessive or extreme corporal punishment are given weight.

In cases where the scales weigh equally in favor of each parent, excessive corporal punishment may tip the scales out of your favor. If you are engaged in a child custody dispute, you should avoid using corporal punishment.

Sending your child back to the other parent with a mark caused by spanking could have disastrous results on your child custody case.

To speak with an experienced child custody lawyer, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Domestic Abuse: Immigration

Since President Trump took office, domestic-abuse victims seeking help have been concerned about their possible deportation.

A recent survey of over 700 advocates and legal service providers found that 62% have observed an increase in immigration-related questions from survivors of violence.

The immigrant community has interpreted President Trump’s rhetoric and reports of increased enforcement to mean all are at risk. This anxiety has translated into behavioral shifts among some of the most vulnerable immigrants, including those trapped in violent situations.

Spivak Law Firm provides aggressive representation for plaintiffs and defendants in domestic violence cases, including Protection From Abuse (PFA), Children Youth and Families (CYF), and criminal domestic violence. To schedule a free consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Terroristic Threats: Penalties

 

SO000183Under Pennsylvania law, a person commits the crime of terroristic threats if the person makes a direct or indirect threat to:

  • commit any crime of violence with intent to terrorize another;
  • cause evacuation of a public place; or
  • cause serious public inconvenience, or public terror.

Terroristic threats is graded as a first-degree misdemeanor, which could result in up to five years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine. If the threat causes occupants of a public place to be diverted from normal operations, it is graded as a third-degree felony, which carries up to 7 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

Spivak Law Firm handles all criminal domestic violence charges, including: simple assault, harassment, stalking, recklessly endangering another person, and terroristic threats. To speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Stalking: Penalties in Pennsylvania

 

PFA Pic2Under Pennsylvania law, the crime of stalking occurs when a person places another in reasonable fear of bodily injury or substantial emotional distress by either:

  • Engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts toward another person, including following the person without proper authority; or
  • Engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly communicating to another person with intent to place them in fear or emotional distress.

A first offense is graded as a first-degree misdemeanor, but if it is a subsequent offense against the same person, you could face third-degree felony charges.

A conviction can result in jail time and costly fines, and also has the potential to affect your child custody rights, employment, and right to own a firearm.

Served with a PFA? Charged with assault? Terroristic threats? Harassment? Stalking? Call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Domestic Violence Warning Signs

dv-pic5Domestic violence experts increasingly aim to identify “red flags” that often precede homicides and murder-suicides where abuse is present.

Warning signs include: strangulation, stalking behavior, sexual violence, gun possession, unemployment, substance abuse, and prior attempts by the victim to end the relationship.

Previous abuse by the suspect is the strongest of these “red flags,” according to experts.

Spivak Law Firm handles all areas of family law with a special focus on domestic violence and Protection From Abuse (PFA). Call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Domestic Violence Penalties

DV Pic5Domestic violence experts say that strangulation is a strong indicator for future homicide.

In 2015, six people were strangled to death in Pennsylvania. Studies show that the odds of becoming a homicide victim increase dramatically for women who reported strangulation by a partner in the past.

Pennsylvania lawmakers are now considering a bill to establish a felony strangulation law. The bill would rank strangulation as a second-degree felony or a first-degree felony if the defendant is named in an active Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order, uses an instrument of crime, or has been previously convicted of strangulation.

Spivak Law Firm handles all matters of family law and criminal defense with a focus on domestic violence. Call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Child Custody In Cases Involving Rape

702075.TIFMothers of children conceived by rape can be forced to share custody of the child with their rapists. Many states allow courts to terminate the parental rights of rapists, but most of them require that the men first be convicted. However, less than one-fifth of rapes are even reported, and only about 5 percent of those result in convictions.

Last year, Congress passed the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act, which pledges money for states that pass laws denying parental rights to men if the mothers show in family court that they have been raped. In family court, the victims need only prove that the rape occurred by “clear and convincing” evidence – not the tougher “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal courts.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate representation in all family law and criminal defense matters. Call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Types of Domestic Violence

77005984At Spivak Law Firm, we handle many cases involving allegations of domestic violence, including: Protection From Abuse (PFA), criminal charges such as assault and harassment, and high-conflict divorce and child custody matters. According to family law experts, there are four distinctly different types of domestic violence:

1)    Battering: Also known as coercive controlling violence, battering involves a pattern of power and control by one partner and a pattern of fear in the victim partner. There may not be frequent violence, but when violence occurs, it can be severe and result in bruises, broken bones, and even death. The victim often becomes isolated, loses self-esteem, and finds it very hard to leave. Most batterers seem to have characteristics of borderline, narcissistic, or anti-social personalities.

2)     Situational Couple Violence: This type of domestic violence is the most common type. Instead of a pattern of power and control, both parties in the couple have difficulties resolving conflict peacefully and get into pushing and shoving types of behavior, sometimes with injuries. Neither party lives in fear of the other, and the violence is generally less severe. Research shows that men and women engage in this type of violence fairly equally.

3)    Separation-Instigated Violence: Sometimes there are one or two incidents at the time of separation, but no prior history of violence. Both parties may engage in this behavior, and it is fairly equal among males and females.

4)    Violent Resistance: This term is used when a victim of a batterer fights back, sometimes injuring the usual perpetrator. Sometimes, batterers set up a spouse to fight back, then call the police. Sometimes victims get arrested because of one injury to the batterer, while the batterer gets away with numerous injuries on other occasions that the victim does not report.

To schedule an appointment with an attorney experienced in cases involving allegations of domestic violence, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Domestic Violence Can Happen to Anyone

Restraining orders and domestic violence can happen to anyone – even the very rich and famous.

Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry will appear in court this week in a domestic violence case that has received international attention.

This past Thanksgiving, Berry’s fiancé got into a brutal fight with Berry’s ex-boyfriend that left both men with serious injuries. Each man filed a restraining order against the other.

The incident occurred in Berry’s driveway while her 4-year-old daughter was inside the house.

In Pennsylvania, a restraining order is known as a PFA, or Protection From Abuse order, which restricts contact between the parties and can be used to gain leverage in child custody matters.

In Berry’s case, the restraining orders could affect her child custody case. Last month, a judge denied Berry’s request to move with her fiancé to France because her ex-boyfriend shares custody of the child.

In Pennsylvania, a person cannot relocate with a child unless every person with custody rights to the child consents or the court approves the relocation.

Berry, like many of our clients throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania, will spend much of this holiday season in court battling over child custody, restraining orders, and criminal charges arising out of the domestic violence incident from Thanksgiving.

Spivak Law Firm handles all domestic violence matters, including PFA restraining orders, criminal charges, and child custody matters. To schedule an appointment, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

On Talk Show, Spivak Law Firm Discusses PFA Law

Spivak Law Firm appeared this week on one of Toronto’s largest radio stations to discuss the stigma of domestic violence and how it affects people who are falsely accused of abuse.

Here’s a summary of our interview with Jim Richards on CFRB Newstalk 1010, which was prompted by news that the long-time puppeteer and voice of Elmo on Sesame Street was falsely accused of having sex with a minor:

“We get calls all day long from people who say they were falsely accused of abuse,” said Todd Spivak, attorney and owner of Spivak Law Firm, “whether it’s harassment, stalking, physical violence, or sexual abuse.

“In Pennsylvania, there are restraining orders known as PFAs, and they’re very easy to get. Judges in Allegheny County sign off on about 97 percent of all initial PFA petitions. And then the majority of these claims are either withdrawn or dismissed.

“In Pennsylvania, the PFA remains a public record. It can preclude you from certain job opportunities and promotions, hurt your credit rating, as well as destroy your relationships with your neighbors, your family, and your friends.”

Domestic violence is real. But people who are pulled into this system unfairly, unnecessarily, they have to go on and live with this stigma for the rest of their lives.”

At Spivak Law Firm, we strongly defend people against accusations of abuse. If you’ve been served with a PFA or face criminal domestic violence charges, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.