PA Ordinance Allowing Eviction of Domestic Violence Victims Repealed

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By Lisa Marie Vari on Google+

In the city of Norristown, Pennsylvania there was an ordinance that stated that landlords were allowed to evict tenants if the police were called to a residence more than three times within four months. The ordinance, known as the “nuisance property ordinance,” has since been abolished in an effort to keep domestic violence victims from being evicted. Under the ordinance women who called the police to report domestic violence frequently were labeled under the ordinance as “disorderly.”

Lakisha Briggs is a domestic violence victim that lives in the city of Norristown and faced eviction because she called the police to report the abuse she was experiencing. She was threatened with eviction under this ordinance after police were called to her home and arrested and charged her abusive ex-boyfriend with physically assaulting her. After she was threatened with the eviction, Briggs stopped calling the police to report further incidents, including one in which her ex-boyfriend used a brick while attacking her.

In June 2012 the eviction issue came to a head when Briggs’ ex-boyfriend stabbed her in the neck with broken glass. Neighbors had to call the police and Briggs was airlifted to the hospital. After which, the city threatened her with forcible removal from her home under the ordinance. Briggs had been so conflicted because if she called the police to get him out of the home she would get evicted and if she physically tried to remove him someone would likely call the police and she would be evicted.

The New York Times reported last year that according to a study of citations issued to landlords in Milwaukee, domestic violence was involved in almost one-third of the cases. And these rentals were largely in areas where minorities lived and were disproportionately singled out. In addition to striking down the law the city will also pay Briggs $495,000 to settle a federal lawsuit that was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. When the ordinance was repealed Briggs stated that the felt “relieved that no other family will have to choose between their safety and their home.”

In Pennsylvania, domestic violence is not considered a separate charge from assault, aggravated assault, or battery. However, there are additional considerations when the state prosecutor decides to prosecute the case as a domestic violence case.

A domestic abuse charge is considered to be knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly causing bodily injury of any kind, causing fear of bodily injury of any kind, assault, rape, sexually abusing minor children, or knowingly engaging in a repetitive conduct toward a certain person that puts them in fear of bodily injury. These acts can take place between family, household members, sexual partners, or those who share biological parenthood.

If you are the victim of domestic violence and are in need of representation contact our Pennsylvania domestic violence lawyers at Lisa Marie Vari & Associates. Ourt attorneys will be able to explain your legal rights, file a temporary restraining order and represent you in any lawsuit against your abuser. Contact us today, either by email or phone call, to set up an appointment today.