Protection from Abuse (PFA) orders should never be broken. This seems obvious, but it is worth repeating in light of this tragic story out of Blairsville. A 48 year-old man, Stacy Arnold Livingston, broke into his own home — knowingly violating his PFA order. During an altercation, he was shot and killed by a family member. (No charges were filed.)
This is an extreme example, but it once again highlights how crucial it is to follow the instructions listed on the PFA. Even if most violations are unlikely to result in your death, severe legal consequences are a certainty and will make resolving your case much more difficult.
Receiving a PFA Order — How Should You React?
Being served with a PFA order is not an enjoyable experience. It's stressful and intimidating. It can make you feel hurt and alone. Those are natural responses. They aren't inherently bad. The real problems come when you let those feelings dictate your actions moving forward, like Stacy Arnold Livingston did.
The first thing you should do upon receiving a PFA order is to remain calm. Avoid letting your emotional instincts control your reaction. The best way to resolve a PFA is to approach it logically. Read it carefully, identify the boundaries it sets forth, and then adhere to its instructions to the letter.
This may be challenging if you don't understand why you've been accused of abuse. It may seem like the simplest way to a resolution is to contact your accuser and sort it out. Not only is this unlikely to help in any realistic way, but the simple act of a phone call can be grounds for criminal action. Before you formulate any sort of response, the smart thing to do is seek the advice of an attorney that specializes in PFA cases.
How Can You Legally Fight a PFA Order?
The only way to realistically fight a PFA order is through the legal system. It can be a frustrating and lengthy process — especially if you find yourself without a place to live during the proceedings — but any alternative can (and usually does) lead to criminal charges and more permanent damage. It's better to obey the order, even if you feel that it's unfair.
Within ten days of the plaintiff's initial petition, you are granted a court hearing to present your side of the story. This is your best opportunity to defend yourself without the risk of violating the PFA, so you want to make sure you get it right. Having a lawyer on your side gives you the best chance at a positive outcome. They will listen to your story and prepare the most effective argument for your case, including subpoenaing and cross-examining witnesses.
Retain an Experienced Pennsylvania PFA Attorney
Attorney Joseph D. Lento understands Protection from Abuse laws inside and out. He can help you avoid the many dangerous pitfalls surrounding these orders. Contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or by using the online form.