Despite the newly-introduced COVID vaccine, the pandemic continues to modify how systems operate throughout the country. The changes help control the virus's spread, especially with a looming surge in infection rates expected after the holidays. While courts are still operating, policymakers still need to manage their processes to prevent exposure to the virus.
As a response to the pandemic's logistical challenges, Pennsylvania’s Fifth Judicial District is extending its emergency operating plan until January 8. The courts will remain open to the public, but the goal is to decrease the number of people accessing facilities. Those who cannot resolve issues remotely must wait until after the emergency plan ends for an in-person hearing.
The changes affect cases concerning Common Pleas Court, arbitration hearings, and traffic proceedings. Despite the limitations, the courts remain accessible for in-person Emergency Protection from Abuse orders, and preliminary arrangements will continue.
How to Approach a PFA during the COVID Pandemic
If you are on the receiving end of a PFA, you can take steps to handle the matter without jeopardizing your case. Judges prefer to err on the side of caution to prevent anticipated or alleged abuse, so you must create a strategy to minimize the chances of an unfavorable outcome.
Fortunately, you can take steps to protect yourself and refine your approach to fighting the PFA.
1. Control Your Response
You can't “mess” with the terms of your PFA, especially if the person filing tries to contact you for a reaction. Suppose you are going through a divorce. The other party may use any response or violation of the PFA's terms as incriminating evidence against you. Even if you think you can work it out or change the filer's mind, never break the law by attempting to contact the filer or your children.
2. Contact an Attorney
A PFA hearing typically takes ten business days. Afterward, the judge decides whether to reject it or make it final. The only other way the PFA falls is if the petitioner withdraws it before the hearing. An adept attorney uses this time to gather evidence, witness statements, video footage, and other useful information that disproves allegations against you. Attorneys can also cross-examine the filer to highlight inconsistencies in their accounts.
3. Avoid Making Statements You'll Regret
Resist the temptation to talk or post about what happened to friends or acquaintances. You never know how those statements can reach the filer – or the judge. If your words or intent sound like a threat, the judge is more likely to finalize the PFA, and you may lose your right to appeal.
4. Know Your Options
With an attorney's help, you can gauge your defense chances and determine the best course of action. In many instances, a settlement can prevent the PFA from further damaging your reputation and restricting your movements.
Contact the Lento Law Firm
Attorney Joseph D. Lento aggressively works to negotiate your case before the judge and reach a favorable result before the PFA is final. You still have rights and options despite your PFA's terms and the limitations imposed by the pandemic. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 for an in-depth, expert consultation.