People who have been subjected to physical, sexual, or emotional abuse from a spouse, romantic partner, or a family member are entitled the right to put an end to their suffering by protecting themselves. A crucial step in doing so is to get a protection from abuse (PFA) order. PFA orders are civil court actions intended to deter abuse, or the fear of abuse, towards an individual and/or children. The terms of this order are customized to a victim's specific needs and circumstances. Some PFA orders are incredibly strict, while others have very few terms, the restrictiveness of a person's order depends on the circumstances.
The effectiveness of PFA orders can't be questioned, as they are honored more than half the time. However, concerns about their potential abuse are valid. Due to the nature of domestic violence, sex crimes, and other actions that may prompt a PFA order, the process of serving one is relatively easy. As a result, this process has become a breeding ground for false or exaggerated claims. If, based on these erroneous claims, the courts feel compelled to act on behalf of an alleged victim, a defendant will be subjected to the unwarranted consequences of a PFA order.
The enforcement of a PFA order on improper grounds can have a detrimental impact on a defendant. Innocent people have endured severe repercussions that have disrupted their lives, destroyed their personal relationships, and forced them to live with a debilitating social stigma. Here are some of the consequences of a PFA order that are especially damaging if a defendant is innocent:
Eviction from your home
For defendants who live with an alleged victim, a PFA order can force you to completely uproot your life. Most, if not all PFAs have terms that require defendants to keep out of the close vicinity of an alleged victim. In orders involving cohabitating parties, the defendant is always the one forced to move out. These distance restrictions can affect a defendant's relationship with their kids, and put them in a tough situation if they don't have anywhere else go.
Sexual offender registry
Depending on the circumstances, a PFA may solidify the decision to place your name on a sex offender registry. When this occurs, a person's name is put on an openly accessible list detailing their name, picture, address, age and other identifiable information. This is a method of safeguarding the public, especially children, from being victimized by sexual offenders. The amount of time your name is placed on this registry depends on the offense committed. Some people's names will remain on this register for their entire lifetime.
Loss of rights
If a judge feels it necessary, a defendant may be ordered to forfeit their right to bear arms. All firearms owned by a defendant will be turned into law enforcement for the duration of an order. The average order expires after approximately three years.
Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney
Being falsely accused of abuse is a difficult issue to deal with. To weed out the false accusations, defendants are granted an opportunity to request a hearing to claim their innocence. In this hearing, however, the stakes are high. Individuals who attend a hearing and lose will have to live with the record of abuse that will be available to anyone with access to public records. It can inhibit opportunities for employment, government aid, involvement in certain organizations, the continuation of your education and more.
If you're in this situation, you need the help of a knowledgeable attorney. Joseph D. Lento has a decade of experience helping people who have in your shoes overcome fabricated and exaggerated claims in a hearing. He can do the same for you. Contact him today for help.