If you have received a notice of a protection from abuse filed against you, take immediate steps to properly represent yourself with a qualified defense lawyer at the upcoming court hearing. PFA's are employed as a means to stop abuse between a family or household member, a sexual or intimate partner or a person who shares a biological parenthood.
Timelines for PFA hearings move very quickly, and you do not want to wait until the last minute to begin your defense. Below, read more about the types of PFAs that the state grants as well as the consequences for the restricted party.
Philadelphia PFA Hearing Lawyer
Lento Law Firm knows that very serious consequences can result from a quickly applied protection from abuse. Do not go into a hearing without first consulting or retaining an experienced criminal defense lawyer. You may walk out of the courtroom with reduced child custody and no home to which you may return. Call (215) 535-5353 today to set up a free consultation to discuss your hearing, the underlying criminal charges, and your options.
Information on Protection from Abuse Hearings
- Emergency Protection from Abuse Order
- Ex Parte Temporary Protection from Abuse Order
- Final Protection from Abuse Order
- Consequences of a Protection from Abuse Order
An emergency PFA lasts overnight and is issued by the on-call magisterial district judge. The order will be granted if the judge believes the victim is at immediate and present danger of abuse without hearing any evidence or statement from the alleged offender. The emergency PFA will require the alleged offender to stay away from the victim until the order expires the following business day. At this point the court is open to hear a petition from the victim for an ex parte protection from abuse order.
The victim—the plaintiff—may petition the court for a more permanent PFA. At first, the judge will determine whether to issue a PFA based only on the plaintiff's evidence of abuse (ex parte), which must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. The plaintiff must show they or their minor children are in immediate and present danger of abuse. Because this is a civil order, a lower burden of proof is adequate to issue the order. A preponderance of the evidence means that the circumstances as described by the plaintiff are more likely than not to be true.
Along with the granting of an ex parte temporary PFA, the court will schedule another hearing, usually within 10 days, at which both parties will be able to present evidence to secure or dismiss a final PFA.
A final PFA may last up to three years, but can be appealed at any time during that period. A final PFA will be granted if the plaintiff can prove the allegation of abuse by a preponderance of the evidence. It is at this hearing that the defendant may present evidence that the event did not constitute abuse.
There are serious consequences to the defendant of a granted PFA. They are stipulated in 23 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 6108 include:
- An order to not abuse, harass, or stalk the plaintiff and their minor children
- Removal of the defendant from a shared home
- Granting of possession of a shared home to the plaintiff
- Requirement to provide the plaintiff with suitable housing
- Loss of custody rights to children
- Scar on the defendant's permanent record that can play a role in any future child custody decisions
- Financial support paid to plaintiff
- Order to relinquish weapons and firearms and prohibition on acquiring new firearms
- Restitution to the plaintiff for losses relating to the abuse (including medical bills, costs of relocating, attorney fees, counseling fees, or loss of earnings)
If a PFA is violated, the defendant will face criminal contempt charges, which may be punished by a jail term of six months and a fine up to $1,000.
Defense Lawyer for Pennsylvania Protection from Abuse (PFA) Hearings
A defense lawyer can mean the difference between you staying in your home and retaining custody of your children. Lento Law Firm will immediately get to work on your defense, as the timing can be extremely short before a hearing is set. If a PFA is granted or a consent decree is agreed to between parties, a competent defense attorney can limit the requirements of the PFA and help you effectively negotiate. Call us at (215) 535-5353 in order to discuss your PFA hearing and how Lento Law Firm can help you.