When a person has domestic violence charges railed against them, they are already in a complicated and difficult scenario. These charges are just the start of a person's problems. In situations that involve domestic violence accusations, it is common for one person to file a PFA order, which can complicate a person's situation beyond any charges they may face.
PFA Orders in Pennsylvania
A PFA order is a court order that is filed most commonly in a situation where a person has experienced a domestic violence incident. There are a number of different types of PFA orders that can affect a person. The individual that files the PFA is known as the plaintiff, while the person who has a PFA filed against them will be known as the defendant. One of the most common methods of filing a PFA is the use of an emergency PFA order. These are issued on the plaintiff's word only, by an on call judge that makes the decision of whether or not an emergency situation is present, and action is warranted. Another type of PFA order is known as an "ex parte" order. These are filed without the defendant present, however, the plaintiff must go to the court in order to present their case.
Both ex parte and emergency PFA orders are meant to last a temporary time. When they are filed, the court will notify a defendant and set a court date for their hearing for a final PFA. A final PFA order is a PFA order that is meant to last for a much longer period of time. The judge will base the terms of a final PFA order of those established in an emergency or ex parte PFA order. At the hearing, however, the judge will consider input and defenses introduced by the defendant. A strong defense can prevent a final PFA from being imposed, or can greatly impact the severity of the terms set forth by a final PFA.
What Are Criminal Charges Associated With PFA Orders?
In addition to any criminal charges a person may already face, when a person has a PFA filed against them, they are put in danger of violating the PFA. A PFA is a court order, and violations can mean criminal charges. There is no specific crime for violating a PFA, instead, a defendant will be charged with criminal contempt. This can mean up to 6 months of incarceration, and fines up to $1,000 if a person is convicted, on top of having a criminal record against them. These will be criminal matters, so it is highly advisable for a defendant to proceed into court with an attorney.
Pennsylvania Defense Attorney
When a person faces a PFA order filed against them, they may be unsure of where to turn. PFA orders can carry several consequences that are restrictive on a person's rights and damaging to their quality of life. On top of this, these constraints place a defendant in danger of committing a crime once the PFA order is finalized. An experienced criminal defense attorney can not only defend against the implementation of the PFA, but also any additional criminal matters that may follow.