When a person is involved in domestic violence accusations, their life can become immensely complicated. Domestic violence accusations can put a person facing accusations in a difficult situation. A domestic violence charge has long term effects across nearly all areas of the law, including family law and criminal law. One of the most common aspects of any domestic violence incident is a person facing the potential threat of PFA order being placed against them.
What Is A PFA Order?
A PFA order is a court order filed commonly in situations where a person has been accused of domestic violence. PFA stands for "protection from abuse." The person who files for a PFA order will be known as plaintiff, while the person who has the order filed against them will be known as the defendant. These court orders come in a few different forms. One commonly seen PFA form is an emergency PFA order. As the name suggests, these orders are issued in a situation deemed an emergency. The plaintiff will ask for a PFA order from an on call judge, who will deem whether or not the situation is an emergency. The terms of an emergency PFA are at the discretion of the judge, who will only be hearing the plaintiff's side of events. A similar type of PFA order is known as an "ex parte" PFA order. These are filed at the courthouse during usual hours, but also do not take in any input from the defendant. Both of these types of orders are meant to last for a temporary time period until they can be made permanent through a final PFA order.
A final PFA order is a PFA order that is meant to last a longer amount of time, typically the span of a few years. These are issued after a hearing with both the plaintiff and defendant. These hearings will depend on evidence and arguments from both parties. The judge will consider everything brought up in the hearing when deciding to enact a final PFA. Even if a defendant has a final PFA order placed against them, the judge will still consider their arguments when determining what the terms of the PFA order will be.
What is Criminal Contempt of a PFA Order?
Violating a PFA order is a crime. In Pennsylvania, PFA violations are prosecuted as indirect criminal contempt of a court order. This is a crime that can lead to a maximum of 6 months of jail time and fines up to $1,000 as well. These are criminal charges, which means that a person will have a record if they are found guilty in court. This can also be prosecuted in tandem with any domestic charges they may already be facing as well.
Pennsylvania Defense Attorney
Having a PFA placed against a person can place them under constant danger of committing a crime. Criminal contempt can become a difficult charge to fight against, as it is almost always the word of the plaintiff and the police against the word of the defendant. These situations can be incredibly stressful and difficult for defendants. An experienced defense attorney can help. An attorney will be able to defend against both the enactment of the PFA against a defendant, as well as any charges that may stem from it.