One of the most common elements of any domestic violence case is a protection from abuse order. These orders are typically filed in any instance of alleged domestic violence. Protection From Abuse orders, or PFAs, in Lancaster County are filed in the Lancaster Court of Common Pleas Family Division. While these are matters of family law, any violations of the court order can land a person in criminal court. It is important to formulate a defense to these orders to reduce the impact the PFA has on a person's life.
PFA Defense in Lancaster County
Throughout any court proceedings involving the filing of a PFA order, the person facing domestic violence accusations will be known as the defendant, while the person requesting the filing will be known as the plaintiff. In certain circumstances, a plaintiff may file a PFA order without the defendant present. This is known as an "ex parte" PFA order. These are typically issued at the discretion of a judge and only last for a temporary time until the defendant can be properly notified. The defendant will be notified through summons or mailing.
PFA Hearings in Lancaster County
Under common circumstances, both plaintiff and defendant will be in attendance to discuss a PFA. This will be done at a preliminary hearing, and will usually determine whether or not a temporary PFA is to be issued. Preliminary hearings are less formal and may even be held by a court master instead of a judge. Defendant and plaintiff can present their information at the hearing, and the presiding authority will decide whether a temporary PFA is necessary, and what the terms of it are. Following this, a final PFA hearing will be scheduled to determine if the PFA is to be made permanent and what the terms are.
Hearings for final PFA orders are much more serious in nature and are likely to be held and decided upon by a judge. At these hearings, the plaintiff will be able to present their case first, which will be subject to a brief cross-examination from the defendant. Next, the defendant can present their defensive case, and the plaintiff will have an opportunity to perform a cross-examination. Following this stage, both parties will be able to make their closing remarks and rebuttals to one another, and the judge will close the hearing. The judge will make a decision on whether or not a final PFA is to be implemented and what the terms of it will be.
PFA orders can have significant impacts on a defendant's life. For this reason, a defendant should consider experienced representation during these matters. Even if a PFA order is still rallied against a defendant, the judge will still consider their defense in creating the terms of the order.
If you or a loved one is facing a PFA in Lancaster County contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.