If someone you live with gets a protection order against you, you may be required to move out, effective immediately. A Protection From Abuse (PFA) order can limit contact between the plaintiff and the defendant and it generally puts the burden on the defendant. If you are served a PFA order, you may be required to move out of your house or apartment until the final PFA hearings.
Forced Out of Your Home or Apartment After a PFA
A protection order can put a number of legal restrictions on someone, including where they can go, who they can talk to, and where they can stay. Even a temporary or emergency PFA can severely limit your rights. A PFA may remain in place until it is removed or reversed, and the first opportunity to challenge the PFA may not be until notice of a permanent protection order hearing.
Under Pennsylvania statute, the relief available under a protection order may include:
“Granting possession to the plaintiff of the residence or household to the exclusion of the defendant by evicting the defendant or restoring possession to the plaintiff if the residence or household is jointly owned or leased by the parties, is owned or leased by the entireties or is owned or leased solely by the plaintiff.”
If the defendant is evicted from their house or apartment after a protection order, the court may even require the defendant to continue to make rent or mortgage payments on the residence of the plaintiff if the defendant has a duty to support the plaintiff.
Where Can I Live After a PFA?
Housing in Philadelphia can be expensive and take a long time to find a place, submit a rental application, and get approval before moving in. If the landlord or rental agency suspects you may have been evicted related to domestic violence accusations, your rental application may suddenly be denied without explanation.
Unfortunately, the Commonwealth will not be too concerned about the defendant's rights to find housing after a PFA. It is up to you to find a place to live if you are evicted from your household. You may be able to stay with a friend or family member until you can contact an experienced Philadelphia PFA defense lawyer. Other options include extended-stay hotel rooms.
Your housing options may be further limited by other contact restrictions on the PFA. The protection order may prohibit contacting family members of the plaintiff or going within a certain distance of the plaintiff. For example, if the plaintiff and defendant live together in an apartment complex, the defendant may not be able to stay with a neighbor in the same apartment complex.
Pennsylvania Attorney to Challenge Unjust PFA Orders
Pennsylvania attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped clients statewide challenge PFA orders that restrict where they can live, who they can talk to, and whether they can own a firearm. If you or a loved one is facing domestic violence charges, or a PFA order, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today at 888-535-3686.