Getting a PFA Across State Lines: Who Has Jurisdiction?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Nov 19, 2022 | 0 Comments

Protection from abuse orders (PFAs) are serious and can have harsh impacts on those who are ordered to abide by them. In Pennsylvania, PFAs are used in domestic situations to protect family members from abuse. If a PFA is ordered against you, you'll be prohibited from contacting your accuser and more. PA PFAs can also jeopardize your ability to see or speak with your children.

Although PFAs are routine for judges and lawyers, they can be difficult for regular people to navigate. One area of confusion centers on location. For example, where do you get a PFA if you and the accused live in separate states? If the accused lives in New Jersey, for example, do you get a PFA there or in Pennsylvania where the victim lives?

What State Grants the PFA if You Live in New Jersey (or another state)?

It's not uncommon for families to live across state lines, especially after spouses or partners separate. It can be easy enough for a person living in Camden to stay in frequent contact and communication with a former domestic partner who lives in Philadelphia. If the person who lives in PA accuses the person who lives in NJ of abuse, the PA courts could order a PFA against the NJ resident.

PFAs are sought in the state where the victim lives. This means that even if the accused lives in another state, the legal proceedings will be administered in the victim's home state.

What if the Domestic Violence Happened in Another State?

Even if the domestic violence occurred across state lines, the PFA is often sought in the home state where the victim lives. This is because the PFA is designed to protect the victim and the court where the victim lives will have jurisdiction over the victim. It makes sense if you think about it like this: if domestic partners traveled across the country for vacation, and one of them assaulted the other, it makes no sense for the PFA to be sought in a state where they won't be spending more than a few days. Notably, there could be an emergency scenario where local authorities must intervene.

Someone responding to a PFA order needs to defend themselves in the court where the order was made. If you live out of state, this means you need to hire a PA attorney and not just ignore the issue because you live across state lines. Those accused of actions necessitating a PFA order should contact an attorney and utilize the proper channels in appealing the PA PFA order.

A PFA Attorney Can Answer Your Questions

Attorney Joseph D. Lento is vastly experienced in helping PFA respondents through the difficult and often emotional process of defending themselves against accusations of domestic violence in PA. To learn how Attorney Lento and his dedicated team can help you, contact the Lento Law Firm online, or call 888-535-3686 today.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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