When a person faces domestic violence accusations, one of the most common situations they will encounter is the filing of a protection from abuse order. A protection from abuse order, or as it is commonly known, a PFA, is a court order that makes several demands of a person with the consequences of criminal charges if the terms are not adhered to. In Delaware County, a person files a PFA at the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas within the chambers of the court's family division.
Delaware County PFA Defense
A PFA order is typically filed with both parties present for the matter. In cases for a PFA, the person filing will be known as the "plaintiff," while the person who is the subject of the PFA will be known as "defendant." At times, specifically during emergency situations, a plaintiff may be able to begin the filing process without the defendant present. This is known as an "ex parte" PFA and is at an "on-call" judge's discretion to grant. The ex parte PFA will last a temporary period of time, and the defendant will be notified of the measures against them through either mail or court summons.
PFA Hearings in Delaware County
Under normal circumstances, a PFA can be granted through a brief, two-part hearing process. The first step is a brief preliminary hearing for a temporary PFA order. At this hearing, the plaintiff will present information against the defendant, and the defendant will offer information in their own defense. These hearings are decided upon by either a court master or a judge, depending on the situation at hand. The presiding authority will then make a decision to issue a temporary restraining order and then set a date for the net hearing for a final PFA order.
A final PFA order is a much more serious matter and follow a more rigid hearing process. Final PFA orders can be in place for years at a time. At a hearing, first, the plaintiff will have the opportunity to present their case against the defendant. The defendant will be able to cross-examine the plaintiff following the presentation. Next, the defendant can present their defense to the court. The plaintiff will also have the ability to conduct a cross-examination after this. Finally, after both sides have been heard and cross examinations have been done, the two parties may engage in their final remarks and rebuttals, and the judge will close the hearing. After this, the judge will make a decision based on the presentations on whether to institute a final PFA and what the terms of the PFA order will be.
These hearings require a strong defense. A strong defense can help even if the judge decides to administer a final PFA, as the defendant's statements in court will be taken into account when considering terms for a PFA.
If you or a loved one is facing a PFA in Delaware County, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.