Protection from abuse orders are meant to protect the victims of abuse, but sometimes, defendants violate their orders, and the government must bring them back before the court for adjudication. Breaking a PFA, even if done accidentally, can have disastrous effects on not only your freedom but your personal and professional life. In early February 2021, a Pennsylvania police officer was arrested by the Philadelphia Police Department's Internal Affairs Division after they found he violated his protection from abuse order in January 2021. The department placed the officer on a 30-day suspension with the intention of firing him at the end of those 30 days.
What Violates a PFA?
PFAs are awarded to adults, or guardians of minor victims, in the household, who have a relationship with the defendant (either by marriage, blood, or who've had a current or past intimacy, or who share a biological child). The PFA is temporary, lasting for a few weeks up to a few years, and can inhibit several actions the defendant would typically be able to have.
A PFA can be violated in several ways, including if the abuser resumes contact with the victim(s), the abuse starts up again, or the abuser purchases a firearm. The violation will be dependent on the exact stipulations in the abuser's order.
Consequences of Breaking a PFA
In Pennsylvania, when a court finds the defendant to have violated their PFA order, the alleged violation becomes a criminal matter, whereas at first, it was a civil matter. Because it is now a criminal matter, up to 6 months of jail time is a possible penalty, and also up to a $1000 fine. Additionally, the violation of the PFA charge will now be a consistent blemish on your criminal record.
Further, it will now present significant challenges to your personal and professional life. For instance, a violated PFA charge could mean a change in a child custody agreement, a new place of residence, or an inability to work with certain populations. In the article above, the Philadelphia policeman was suspended from work while facing trial for the violation. The accusation has further marred his criminal record and his professional reputation.
How an Attorney Can Help
A skilled Pennsylvania criminal attorney has unique knowledge and understanding of the criminal court. They will gather all relevant facts and evidence and build a strategic defense on your behalf. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have spent years advocating for defendants accused of breaking their PFA orders. PFAs are a necessity of the court system, but under some circumstances, the PFAs can be sought and won under false pretenses, opening up the defendant to unfair sanctions.
If you or someone you know was charged with a PFA and subsequently charged with violating it, the attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm can help. Don't try to take on a PFA violation alone. There's just too much at stake. Call 888.535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.