The Pennsylvania Protection from Abuse (PFA) Act allows a person to quickly secure a court order, called a Protection from Abuse Order, or PFA Order, to keep an alleged abuser away. It is similar to a restraining order in that it prohibits a person from abusing, harassing, stalking or otherwise threatening the person protected by the order with physical harm.
If you wish to file a temporary PFA, if you have already filed a PFA and have a final hearing date, or if you have been served notice that a PFA has been filed against you as the defendant, call Doleva Law right away. Because we understand the time-sensitivity of PFAs, we are also available to speak with you after-hours.
If a PFA has been filed against you, please call Doleva Law immediately. Time is of the essence in this situation. As the defendant in a PFA, you may be evicted from your home and prohibited from contact with your family. It is crucial that you abide by this until you discuss your circumstances with an attorney from Doleva Law.
Unfortunately, PFA Orders are frequently used to falsely accuse someone of domestic abuse in an attempt to influence divorce and custody matters out of jealousy, spite, anger or revenge. But PFA Orders impose very serious consequences that can remain in effect for up to three (3) years, including:
- Eviction from the home
- Restriction from contacting the accuser
- Loss of child custody and/or visitation
- Required payment of alimony and child support
- Confiscation of firearms and ammunition
- Registry of the offense with the state
- Criminal penalties that may result in jail time
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the accusation, if you have been served with a PFA Order, do not ignore it. Call Doleva Law immediately. We will organize the facts, strongly defend you, and help find a resolution that protects your legal rights.
Who may a PFA Order be filed against?
An adult (18 or older) who alleges physical abuse may file for a PFA Order against:
- A spouse or former spouse
- A domestic partner, including a same-sex partner
- A current or former sexual/intimate partner
- A household member related by blood (e.g., parent, sister, brother)
- A household member related by marriage (e.g.. mother-in-law, son-in-law)
- A child of the plaintiff or defendant
A parent or guardian can also file for a PFA Order on behalf of a minor child.
Note: The PFA Act does not apply to disputes between strangers, neighbors, roommates or coworkers. It also does not apply to mental or emotional abuse or to arguments over child custody where no physical abuse has occurred.
What To Do When Served with a Temporary PFA Order
When a Temporary PFA Order is granted to an accuser, a final hearing will be scheduled within 10 business days. If you do not appear at this court hearing, the judge may enter a Final PFA Order against you.
Important: A PFA Order is a “no-contact order.” You will be restricted from seeing your children, returning to your home or even retrieving your possessions. Any contact with the alleged victim, including physical contact, phone calls, text messages and email, even if they are not threatening in any way, will be considered a violation of the PFA and could result in your arrest, a jail term of up to six months, and up to $1,000 in fines.
The final PFA hearing is your opportunity to testify under oath and present evidence and witnesses to the judge for consideration. There is no requirement for the accuser to provide proof of abuse beyond a reasonable doubt. The judge will either grant a Final PFA Order or deny it based on each party’s credibility. Doleva Law can represent you at the final hearing and help you challenge the evidence against you.
Being prepared for this final hearing is crucial. If you agree to a Final PFA Order (or the judge orders it following the hearing), you will be considered an “abuser.” The record of the Order will be registered with the Pennsylvania State Police and will remain there forever, even after the PFA has expired, unless it is dismissed or withdrawn. This will have serious consequences when you apply for jobs that require a background check.
At Doleva Law, we believe that everyone is entitled to a strong legal defense. Even if your actions warrant a PFA Order against you, we will work vigorously to achieve the best possible outcome. If you face criminal charges for violating a PFA or want to have a Temporary or Final PFA Order expunged from your record, we highly recommend that you retain the services of our aggressive and experienced PFA lawyers.
Emergency PFA Orders
If you believe you are in imminent danger of serious bodily harm from an abuser, call 911. The police will assist you, file a report, and instruct you on how to obtain an Emergency PFA Order, even if the court is closed. If granted, the Emergency PFA Order will expire the following business day, and you will be required to file for a Temporary PFA Order if you decide to pursue one.
Doleva Law is well-prepared to assist clients with filing for and defending against Protection from Abuse (PFA) Orders. Get in touch with us today to find out more about our services in Berks County, Chester County, Dauphin County, Lebanon County, Montgomery County, Schuylkill County and throughout Central PA.