If your relationship with a member of your household becomes abusive, there are things that you can do to protect your rights, no matter what your abuser tries telling you. In Pennsylvania, one of the ways you can get legal protection from your abuser is by getting a protection from abuse order (PFA).
Here are some frequently asked questions about PFAs in Pennsylvania.
What Is the Difference Between a Restraining Order and a PFA?
None; PFAs are just Pennsylvania's terminology for a legal order of protection from domestic violence. PFAs require your abuser to leave your presence and stop contacting you, just like restraining orders in other states.
I Need Protection Now. What Can I Do?
If you are in immediate danger of harm, the first thing to do is to get away to a safe place or to call the police. Once you are out of harm's way, though, seeking an emergency PFA can give you overnight protection from your abuser. These PFAs can be obtained through the on-call magisterial district judge, whose contact information you can get from the police.
Emergency PFAs only provide protection until the beginning of the next business day, however. If you still think you need protection from your abuser the following day, you can extend your emergency PFA into a temporary one by going to court.
How Do PFAs Protect Me?
When you get a PFA against someone, it prohibits that person from approaching or even contacting you. In some cases, the PFA goes further, and prohibits that person from buying new weapons, or forces them to temporarily hand over any weapons they already own. If they violate the terms of the PFA, they will face criminal charges for contempt of a court order, which can lead to jail time and a significant fine.
Do PFAs Protect My Children?
PFAs can also be made to protect your children, as well as yourself. If your abuser is threatening or harming your children, or even other members of your family, the PFA can be made to prohibit the abuser's contact with them, too.
How Can I Get Legal Protection from Someone Over the Long Term?
Emergency PFA orders only provide overnight protection. If you need legal protection well into the future, you can apply for a final PFA, which can keep your abuser away from you or your children for up to three years. Final PFAs, though, require full hearings where your abuser can defend themselves against your allegations of abuse. These hearings are often scheduled around 10 days in the future, though obtaining a temporary PFA can give you the legal protection you need until the hearing.
Pennsylvania PFA Attorney
You deserve a life and a home that are free from abuse. Getting it, though, can be difficult. Reach out to the attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm to make sure you get the PFA you need to be safe from domestic violence: Call us at (215) 535-5353 or contact us online if a phone call is not an option.