When you are involved in a domestic violence incident, the victim has the option to apply for a protection from abuse (PFA) order. PFAs are meant to prevent the alleged victim and the defendant from being in the same location at the same time. When parties live together when the PFA is requested, the defendant usually must move out of the residence. But how does that work when the parties live in an RV, a houseboat, or second home like a working apartment?
What Is Domestic Violence?
In Pennsylvania, domestic violence is defined as abusive acts between family or household members. The abuse is defined as:
- Causing or attempting to cause
- Bodily injury
- Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse
- Sexual assault
- Statutory sexual assault
- Aggravated indecent assault
- Indecent assault
- Or placing another person in reasonable fear of immediate serious bodily injury
- Or false imprisonment
- Or sexual or physical abuse of a child
- Or engaging in some act towards another person, like following them, that puts that person in fear of bodily injury.
What Is a PFA?
A protection from abuse order is a court order that tells the defendant to stop the abuse or they will be punished. In Pennsylvania, there are three types of PFAs, emergency orders, ex parte temporary PFAs, and final PFAs.
When the alleged victim first asks for a PFA, it will either be an emergency order or an ex parte temporary PFA. Emergency orders last until the next business day, at which time you will have to meet for a hearing so that the alleged victim can ask the judge for an ex parte temporary PFA. If they get an ex parte temporary order first or after an emergency order, it will last ten days. You will be expected to attend another hearing to determine if the alleged victim should get a final PFA, which can last up to three years after it is issued.
If a final PFA is ordered, the judge will order the defendant to stop abusing, harassing, or stalking the alleged victim, stop attempting or threatening them or any children with physical force, and demand you surrender any guns, ammunition, or firearm licenses you might have.
Can You Be Kicked Out of Your Unique Residence Because of a PFA?
The short answer: yes. If you are ordered to stay away from the alleged victim on their protection from abuse order, you cannot live in the same residence without violating the PFA. This is true even if your house is a boat out on a lake, an RV on a campground you are renting, or a tent stuck on a friend's private land. If you and the alleged victim are in the same vicinity (usually, it's a specific amount of feet), you will be violating the PFA and are subject to arrest and further discipline.
How A Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
If you or someone you love has been accused of domestic violence and is facing a PFA hearing, Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm can help. Call 888-535-3686 today or schedule a consultation online.