If you've been served a Protection From Abuse order (PFA) in Pennsylvania, you may be concerned about what it means. Similar to a restraining order, a protection from abuse order can profoundly affect your daily life and future. A PFA can force you to move out of your home, prevent you from seeing your children, and cause employment issues at work.
The first thing you should do after receiving a PFA is to read the details of the PFA against you. You want to inform yourself of your rights and restrictions. You should also immediately contact a PFA defense lawyer. In most cases, you won't be able to contact your accuser without violating the terms of your PFA, which can send you to jail.
Pennsylvania judges grant PFAs to protect individuals from abuse. The person who goes to the courthouse to file a PFA is called the plaintiff. A plaintiff can file a PFA against you accuses you of abusing them or their family. If you've been accused of abuse in a Pennsylvania PFA, your name will show up as the defendant on the paperwork.
Pennsylvania courts may grant PFAs to stop or prevent abuse from happening. Usually, a sheriff or police officer will serve you notice and paperwork about the PFA filed against you.
The Pennsylvania PFA process can be confusing and intrusive to your life. If a judge enters a permanent PFA against you, it may last for years. In many cases, PFA orders get filed alongside even more serious domestic violence charges. If you've been falsely accused of abuse, your Pennsylvania PFA hearing is vital to dismissing the charges against you.
Joseph D. Lento is a Pennsylvania defense attorney who specializes in defending the falsely accused in PFA matters. If you're facing a PFA order or domestic violence charge in Pennsylvania, you probably have a lot of questions right now. At Lento Law Firm, we understand the serious consequences you're facing and we're here to help.
You need a top advocate to build a strong defense against a PFA or domestic violence charge. Your future is at stake. Call the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 to get in touch with an experienced attorney right away for the best shot at defending your case.
This page contains general information on frequently asked questions about Pennsylvania PFAs and should not be taken as legal advice specific to your case.
Pennsylvania PFA Order FAQs
- What Is a Protection From Abuse Order in Pennsylvania?
- Who Can File a Pennsylvania PFA Petition?
- Can a Minor Child Get a PFA Order in Pennsylvania?
- Can Your In-Laws Get a PFA Order Against You in Pennsylvania?
- Can Your In-Laws Petition for a PFA on Behalf of Your Children?
- Can Your Ex Petition for a PFA Order If You Were Never Married?
- What Happens When You Get a PFA Order in Pennsylvania?
- How Do PFA Orders Work in Pennsylvania?
- What Is the PFA Order Process in Pennsylvania?
- How Are PFA Orders Served in Pennsylvania?
- Why Should You Fight or Contest a Pennsylvania PFA Order?
- How Should You Respond to a Pennsylvania PFA Order?
- Are PFA Orders Considered Civil or Criminal in Pennsylvania?
- How Are PFA Orders Enforced in Pennsylvania?
- What Happens If You Violate Your Pennsylvania PFA Order?
- What Is a Third-Party Contact Violation?
- What Court Issues and Handles Pennsylvania PFA Orders?
- Who Should You Call If You've Been Served a PFA Order in Pennsylvania?
- What Is an Emergency PFA Order in Pennsylvania?
- What Is a Temporary PFA Order in Pennsylvania?
- What Is Covered Under a Pennsylvania PFA Order?
- What Is a Final PFA Hearing in Pennsylvania?
- What Is a Final Order In a Pennsylvania PFA Proceeding?
- What Should You Expect the Day of Your Final PFA Hearing?
- Can You Bring a Lawyer to Your Final PFA Hearing?
- What Kind of Evidence Can You Bring at a PFA Hearing?
- Are You Allowed to Talk at Your Pennsylvania PFA Hearing?
- Who Is the PFA Hearing Officer?
- What If Your Accuser Doesn't Show up for the PFA Hearing?
- What If You Need to Reschedule Your Final Hearing Date?
- Can You Contest a PFA or Restraining Order in Pennsylvania?
- Can a PFA Order Be Lifted, Removed, or Dropped in Pennsylvania?
- Can a PFA Order Be Overturned in Pennsylvania?
- How Do Pennsylvania PFA Orders Work in Public Places?
- How Do Pennsylvania PFA Orders Work in School?
- Can a Pennsylvania PFA Order Stop You From Going to a Funeral?
- Are Pennsylvania PFA Orders Enforceable in Other States?
- Are Restraining Orders From Other States Enforced in Pennsylvania?
- Are PFA Orders Permanent in Pennsylvania?
- What Is the Time Limit for a Pennsylvania PFA Order?
- What Happens When a Pennsylvania PFA Order Expires?
- What If You've Been Falsely Accused of Abuse in Pennsylvania?
- What Happens If Your Accuser Lied on a Pennsylvania PFA Order?
- How Do You Prove a False PFA Accusation in Pennsylvania?
- How Will a PFA Order Affect Your Child Custody Situation in Pennsylvania?
- Can a Pennsylvania PFA Order Stop You From Contacting Your Child?
- Can a PFA Order Stop You From Going to Your Child's Daycare?
- How Do Pennsylvania PFA Orders Work With Child Visitation?
- Can You Be Evicted for Getting a PFA Order in Pennsylvania?
- Can a Pennsylvania PFA Order Be Granted on a Holiday?
- What Is Considered Abuse in a Pennsylvania PFA Order?
- Can You Get a PFA Order in Pennsylvania for Verbal Abuse?
- Can You Get a PFA Order in Pennsylvania for Stalking?
- Can You Get a PFA Order in Pennsylvania for Text Messages?
- Can You Get a PFA Order in Pennsylvania for Online Harassment?
- Can You Get a PFA Order in Pennsylvania for Emotional or Psychological Abuse?
- Can You Get a PFA Order in Pennsylvania for Slander?
- What Is the Cost of Filing for a Pennsylvania PFA Order?
- Will You Have to Pay a Fee for the PFA Order Against You?
- Can a Pennsylvania PFA Order Make You Pay for Your Family's Health Insurance?
- Can Your Accuser Have a Lawyer at the Final PFA Hearing?
- Can a Pennsylvania PFA Order Affect Your Employment?
- Do PFA Orders Go on Your Public Record in Pennsylvania?
- Can Employers See PFA Orders Filed Against You in Pennsylvania?
- Can a Pennsylvania PFA Order Affect Your Military Career?
- Can a Pennsylvania PFA Order Affect Your Security Clearance?
- Can a Pennsylvania PFA Order Affect Your Immigration Status?
- Can a Pennsylvania PFA Order Affect Your Professional License?
What Is a Protection From Abuse Order in Pennsylvania?
A Pennsylvania PFA is a special type of court order issued to prevent abuse from occurring. The person who asks the court for protection from abuse is called the plaintiff. If you are the accused, a sheriff or police officer will serve you notice about the PFA filed against you.
You need to read your Protection From Abuse Order immediately after receiving it. You might be ordered not to contact your accuser. It's important to obey the orders in your PFA.
Pennsylvania PFAs start as temporary and end in either a dismissal or final PFA order. First, the accuser will file an emergency or temporary PFA order against you, after which a hearing will be scheduled in less than 10 days. At this hearing, you may defend yourself against the order and bring evidence and witnesses. This “final hearing” is your opportunity to contest your PFA.
Look for the following important details in your PFA:
- The date and time of your hearing
- Your right to have an attorney at the hearing
- Your right to present evidence at the hearing
- Your right to bring witnesses to the hearing
- How you may bring witnesses to the hearing
- Whether you have to hand over your firearm, any other weapons or ammunition you own, and any firearm licenses to the police
- Whether your child custody arrangements are in jeopardy
A PFA petitioned in any Pennsylvania county is considered active throughout the whole state. You do not want to violate your PFA before your final hearing by trying to contact your accuser in any way – direct or indirect. You should not try to outsmart law enforcement.
If you contact your accuser or they find out that you're trying to contact them, they can call the police. Your PFA gives the police authority to arrest you for violating the order and you can go to jail. This is a serious matter and your cooperation is extremely important.
You want to be proactive in managing your future. To do so, you should have the best skilled Pennsylvania PFA defense attorney on your side. The Lento Law Firm is here to help you form the best defense to fight your PFA. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and alone, call Joseph D. Lento right now at (888) 535-3686 to set up a consultation.
Who Can File A Pennsylvania PFA Petition?
A protection from abuse order in Pennsylvania can only be filed by an adult against a family or household member. Minor children cannot petition for a PFA unless they're emancipated.
“Family or household member” has a number of options under the Pennsylvania Protection From Abuse Act (PFAA). A PFA can only be filed against:
- Spouses (your wife or your husband)
- Your ex-wife or ex-husband
- People living together “as spouses” (common-law husband or wife)
- Parents, children, or anyone else related to you by blood
- In-laws and anyone else related to you by marriage
- Current or former intimate partners, whether the relationship was sexual or not
- Anyone who shares biological parenthood, such as the father or mother of your child
LGBTQIA and same-sex couples are included in these definitions.
It can be eye-opening to find out all who can bring a Pennsylvania PFA against you. Even if you were only in a brief relationship with someone in the past, they can petition the court for a restraining order against you. If you have a child together, you'll always be connected according to the law – even if you didn't have a normal dating relationship.
Because restraining orders involve such intimate relationships, they tend to become emotionally charged. That's why it helps to have an objective third-party on your side, like a lawyer.
Can a Minor Child Get a PFA Order in Pennsylvania?
You must be an adult over 18 years old to file for a Pennsylvania PFA order. A minor child who has not been emancipated will need a trusted adult to file a PFA petition on their behalf.
A child can ask a family member or guardian to file a PFA petition on their behalf. This could be another parent, a step-parent, grandparent, or any other legal guardian. Even though it can be difficult to hear that your child wants a restraining order against you, you must respect your child's rights and the terms of the protective order against you. You will have the chance to tell your side of the story to the judge at your final PFA hearing.
If you contact your child against the terms of your PFA, you will be in violation of the protective order. That means you can get arrested, fined, and punished with jail or probation.
In many cases, when a parent gets a restraining order against their partner or spouse, they include their children in the restraining order as well.If this is the case, then you are not allowed to contact your accuser or any of the minor children listed in the PFA. This restriction law for as long as your restraining order remains active under the law.
Can Your In-Laws Get a PFA Order Against You in Pennsylvania?
Yes. Your in-laws are considered related to you by marriage. Under Pennsylvania PFA rules, any adult who is related to you can file a protective order against you.
If your in-laws were to file a PFA petition against you, they'd gather evidence of any abusive incidents and bring that information before the judge at the courthouse. The judge will review their information and decide whether a temporary PFA is appropriate.
You'll have your opportunity to prepare for your defense at your final PFA hearing. Your in-laws will be considered the plaintiff and you will be considered the defendant.
Can Your In-Laws Petition for a PFA on Behalf of Your Children?
Yes. Minor children need an adult to petition for a Pennsylvania PFA unless they're legally emancipated. Any adult household member or family member related to your child can file a PFA petition with the court on their behalf. That includes in-laws and step-family.
Can Your Ex Petition for a PFA Order If You Were Never Married?
Yes. Any current or former dating partner can petition for a Pennsylvania PFA order.
In fact, your relationship doesn't need to have any type of label at all. The law provides protection from abuse for any type of intimate relationship, whether sexual or not. There is no rule requiring that relationships even last a certain length of time. Even an intimate relationship over the course of a single day is enough to petition for a PFA.
What Happens When You Get a PFA Order in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, the Protection From Abuse Act (PFAA) governs PFA orders. Under the PFAA, “abuse” is defined as bodily injury or reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
When you are first served with a Pennsylvania PFA you need to understand what you are prohibited from doing. You should read the details of your PFA carefully and contact a lawyer to help. The ramifications of violating your PFA are severe and can change your life forever, even if you violate your order unintentionally or by accident.
In many cases, your PFA will forbid you from contacting your accuser. You should comply with this rule and avoid reaching out to your accuser in any way, whether virtual or in-person, directly or indirectly through someone else. Even if your accuser contacts you, you should not respond. By the time you receive your FPA notice, the PFA procedures against you have already started. The next time you can expect to see your accuser is at the scheduled hearing.
If your PFA prohibits you from contacting your accuser, do not try to contact them in any way. Contact may mean talking in person, calling over the phone, texting, or interacting through social media. You could get in trouble for third-party contacts too. Make sure that no one else (such as friends or family) tries to contact your accuser on your behalf.
It could be tempting to reach out to your accuser in an effort to understand or work through what's going on. But that simple act of contact could result in serious consequences, including jail. If you violate your Pennsylvania PFA order, you could end up in jail before you even have the chance to defend your side of the story in front of a judge.
Your temporary PFA may order you to:
- Restrain from any further acts of abuse
- Direct you to leave your family home
- Prevent you from entering the accuser's home, school, business, or place of work
- Award your accuser temporary custody or temporary visitation with your children
- Pay support to your accuser and any minor children if you have a legal obligation to do so (such as alimony or child custody payments).
During the time leading up to your final PFA hearing, you should prepare to make the best case possible for your defense. Having a lawyer is crucial to your success in the PFA defense process. At your PFA hearing, the burden of proof is on the accuser to convince the judge that you've committed abuse against them or their family. In response, you'll have the opportunity to present evidence to the contrary proving your innocence.
Your PFA final hearing can have two different outcomes:
- The PFA against you is dismissed, or
- A Final Permanent PFA Order is entered against you.
If the judge issues a Final PFA Order against you, the order will state any monetary damages you must pay the accuser as a result of the abuse. You may even be evicted or have your job put in jeopardy. You could end up paying for your accuser's:
- Medical or dental care required as a result of the abuse
- Any relocation or moving expenses
- Mental health counseling
- Loss of earnings or financial support
- Costs of repair for any property damaged, destroyed, or taken by you
- Any other out-of-pocket expenses for injuries sustained
- Your accuser's attorney fees
You're facing serious consequences if you have a PFA filed against you. On top of this, many PFA orders are the direct result of domestic violence charges, which can come with additional legal problems. If you're facing a PFA order, contact an experienced PFA defense attorney right away. The sooner you talk to someone, the better.
Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 for recommendations on how to best proceed in your PFA defense. You have the right to defend yourself against your accusations.
How Do PFA Orders Work in Pennsylvania?
A Pennsylvania PFA first starts with the accuser filling out a PFA petition at the courthouse. The petition lists any current and past incidents of abuse. A judge will review the information the accuser presents and will make a decision. If the judge decides that there's an immediate threat or danger of abuse, they will issue an emergency PFA or temporary PFA.
There is no initial cost for an accuser to file a petition for a restraining order.
Shortly after, you'll be served with the PFA against you, usually by a sheriff or police officer. You should read your PFA immediately. The order will tell you what your restrictions are.
In many cases, your PFA will forbid you from contacting your accuser in any way. It's important that you obey this direction. If your PFA tells you not to contact your accuser, do not try to contact them directly or indirectly. This includes in-person contact, text messages, social media interactions, and even contact through third parties like friends or family sent on your behalf. If you contact your accuser you will likely end up in jail for violating the terms of your PFA.
You are required to obey your PFA as soon as you receive it. Violating a temporary PFA is a criminal offense, which means you can be arrested and prosecuted.
Pennsylvania PFA Final Hearing
You should find the date of your “final hearing” on your PFA. This is a court date that's usually scheduled within 10 days of receiving your PFA. If you want to fight your PFA at all, you need to attend your final hearing. It will be your only opportunity to talk to the judge and present evidence as to why the PFA against you should be dismissed.
At the final hearing, the judge will listen to arguments from both you and your accuser then give a Final PFA Order. The Final PFA Order will either dismiss the PFA against you or make it permanent. A permanent PFA puts your employment, financial future, and entire life at risk.
Your hearing is critical to the outcome of your PFA case. It's important not to miss your final hearing if you want your voice to be heard. It's even better to have a strong advocate on your side to defend your name and innocence at your hearing.
You have the right to an attorney to represent you in your final hearing. If you don't hire an attorney, the case against you can move forward without an advocate on your side. This would be a huge mistake, especially if you've been falsely accused of abuse or domestic violence.
Your final hearing will happen less than two weeks after you find out about the PFA against you. That means you don't have a lot of time. You need to act fast to prepare a solid defense against your PFA. A permanent PFA may change your life in an instant, with lasting damage.
Don't wait until the day of your hearing to find a lawyer to defend you. The judge is not likely to give you extra time and then you will have no one to represent you in court.
Preparing for a PFA hearing is like preparing for trial. Finding evidence that will be allowed into court is complicated. You might think you have a lot of good evidence only to find out on your hearing day that the judge won't allow any of it. Having an experienced Pennsylvania PFA defense attorney on your side is your best chance of building a strong defense. Your lawyer can determine if your evidence is relevant, hearsay, or repetitive.
At the PFA hearing, both you and your accuser have the right to ask each other questions and bring your own witnesses. Your lawyer can help you prepare questions to ask your accuser. Your attorney can also coach you on what types of questions you can expect and how to answer those questions at your hearing. If you have children, your hearing is the time to show evidence that demonstrates their best interests with you in their lives. It's paramount that you contribute to helping the court make good decisions for your children.
Unfortunately, sometimes an emotionally charged divorce or child custody proceeding can lead to a false accusation PFA. You don't want to let someone's lies or exaggerations cost you your job. You don't want to lose the chance to ever see your children again. If you can show the judge in your PFA hearing that your accuser can't prove abuse, your PFA will be dismissed.
Call Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 to talk to an experienced Pennsylvania PFA defense lawyer about your case.
What Is the PFA Order Process in Pennsylvania?
In the Pennsylvania PFA process, the accused are at a disadvantage from the beginning. It's likely that you were caught off guard when you had a PFA served to you. Now you have no time to waste because Pennsylvania PFA hearings tend to be harsh and swift.
The clock starts ticking as soon as you are served notice of a temporary PFA order by your local sheriff or police officer. Judges issue emergency or temporary PFAs to plaintiffs who can potentially show proof of abuse. In most cases, your PFA case will be decided in under two weeks unless your lawyer asks for a continuance. Overall, you have very little time to prepare for an unfamiliar situation that could set your entire future off its course.
Common Timeline for Pennsylvania PFA Proceedings:
- Day 1 – Your accuser files a temporary PFA petition at the county courthouse and becomes the “plaintiff” in the case. The plaintiff has an ex parte (one-sided) meeting with the judge, who decides whether to dismiss or enter a temporary PFA against you. The timeline for a final hearing begins as soon as the temporary PFA is filed.
- Day 1 or 2 – You are served the temporary PFA notifying you of your legal restrictions and requirements. You may have to leave home or surrender firearms or ammunition. Your paperwork will include the date of your final hearing, usually in less than 10 days.
- Days 2-10 – You and your attorney prepare a defense for your final hearing. This includes gathering evidence and witnesses to speak on your behalf.
- Day 10 – You arrive at the courthouse for the final hearing. You should dress respectfully. Both sides present their evidence, witnesses, and arguments. The judge decides whether the PFA will become permanent or not.
You are much more likely to successfully defend against charges of abuse or domestic violence with an experienced Pennsylvania PFA defense attorney who's got your back and knows the system. Pennsylvania's PFA process is unique because it's deemed an emergency process. Plus, Pennsylvania PFA enforcement is very broad and reaches to all 50 states.
Joseph Lento is an experienced lawyer who specializes in Pennsylvania PFA defense. The Lento Law Firm is here to help you navigate your Pennsylvania PFA process. Call (888) 535-3686 for a case consultation before it's too late.
How Are PFA Orders Served in Pennsylvania?
Your Pennsylvania PFA will most likely be served or presented to you by a local county sheriff or police officer. Your actual accuser or another adult may serve you also. Although getting a PFA can be upsetting, it's in your best interest to be respectful and quiet when you are being served.
Starting the moment you're served, all of your interactions will be monitored. You want to be able to have evidence of your good character to bring to the judge at your final hearing. If you make a scene or behave poorly when receiving your PFA notice, that may count against you in your final PFA hearing. This could affect the outcome of your case.
Remember that the PFA process moves quickly, with short deadlines. Most final hearings are scheduled within 10 days of the temporary PFA being filed.
Why Should You Fight or Contest a Pennsylvania PFA Order?
If you've had a Pennsylvania PFA filed against you, your reputation and livelihood are at stake.
You may have been evicted from your family home or suspended from your job. You may face losing custody rights of your children in a divorce. You may have had to surrender your firearm and hunting licenses, guns, and ammunition.
If you've been falsely accused of abuse, your accuser may have lied about you on the restraining order. This publicly calls your character into question.
You don't know how to get your life back to normal. You definitely don't want a permanent Protection From Abuse order to be entered against you into the Pennsylvania court system, where it will show up in background checks across the country for the rest of your life.
What do you do? You can't just rely on your innocence to exonerate you. Ignoring a protective order filed against you would be a huge mistake. This is not the type of case that will just blow over. It's the type of case that can affect your life for years or decades to come.
So if you're wondering whether you should fight or contest your PFA, the answer is yes. When facing a restraining order, you stand to lose your entire way of life. You have to give yourself the best chance at fighting the accusations against you. And that includes hiring an experienced Pennsylvania PFA lawyer to represent you at your hearing.
After getting a restraining order, you shouldn't take any action without first talking to a lawyer. Your attorney can help you navigate the restrictions of your order, figure out how to prove your innocence, and guide you through the process. You don't want to go about this alone.
If you don't show up to your final hearing to defend yourself, the judge assigned to your case will enter a default judgment against you. You can't just sit idly by under the assumption that if you don't respond to your restraining order, it will go away. A restraining order is a legally binding agreement that you must obey – or risk going to jail for violating its terms.
If you only have an emergency or temporary PFA against you right now, you still have time to fight and contest your temporary restraining order before it becomes permanent. Your final hearing is your best chance of stopping your PFA from becoming permanent.
At your final hearing, you'll have the chance to:
- Speak up and provide testimony in your own defense
- Bring in copies of text messages, social media postings, and other types of evidence
- Introduce character witnesses who can vouch for you
Defending against a PFA is a complicated process. There are detailed rules on what types of evidence are allowed. you shouldn't risk your future by trying to manage this process alone. You want to give yourself a fighting chance to prove your innocence.
Joseph D. Lento has fought for the rights of the falsely accused for over a decade. He knows what you're going through and he can help. Call the Lento Law Firm now at (888) 535-3686 for a consultation of your case.
How Should You Respond to a Pennsylvania PFA Order?
The best (and only) way for you to respond to a Pennsylvania PFA is to show up to your final PFA hearing, preferably with a legal representative like a lawyer. Your hearing date and time will be listed in your restraining order documents. In most cases, you'll have less than two weeks to figure out how to respond to the accusations and defend yourself.
Your final PFA hearing is where you bring evidence and witnesses to defend your innocence and prove that you are not guilty of abuse. This is your best chance to vacate the order before it becomes permanent for up to 3 years. Once an order becomes permanent, it's much harder to reverse on appeal. That's why your hearing is so critical to the success of your case.
You must go into your final PFA hearing with a strong defense. Call dedicated Pennsylvania PFA lawyer Joseph D. Lento at (888) 535-3686 to get started today.
Are PFA Orders Considered Civil or Criminal in Pennsylvania?
A Pennsylvania PFA order is considered a civil matter on its own. However, you may have a domestic violence criminal charge against you on top of your PFA.
If you violate your PFA order then the police will arrest you. When the accuser calls the police because you violated your PFA, you will be charged with indirect criminal contempt.
Criminal Consequences for Violating Your PFA
Indirect criminal contempt is a criminal charge. If you are found to have violated your PFA, you may have to pay a fine up to $1,000 and serve probation or jail time for up to 6 months.
Violations of Pennsylvania PFA orders are criminal charges. You may have to deal with these charges in addition to any domestic charges you may already be facing.
A civil PFA is damaging enough on your record. A criminal charge is even more so. Criminal convictions can hurt not just the outcome of your PFA case but the outcome of your living situation, any child custody matters, work or employment opportunities, school applications, and professional licensing boards. The consequences are serious and
Joseph Lento handles both civil and criminal cases related to PFA orders and domestic violence charges. For an experienced Pennsylvania PFA and domestic violence defense attorney call the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686.
How Are PFA Orders Enforced in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania enforces all of the following types of protection from abuse orders:
- Emergency PFA orders
- Temporary PFA orders,
- Final PFA Orders,
- Court-approved consent agreements, and
- Out-of-state PFA orders or restraining orders.
Local police enforce PFA and restraining orders. If you violate your PFA terms, your accuser can call 911. The police will arrest you for violating your PFA order. You can face severe consequences for violating your PFA, including jail time, fines, and probation.
The orders listed above may be entered into the Pennsylvania State Police Statewide Registry. However, registration is not necessary. An out-of-state PFA or restraining order is considered active in Pennsylvania even if it's not registered in the state database.
The Pennsylvania State Police Statewide Registry is regularly updated with amendments and revocations. The police database is also updated to remove vacated or expired orders.
What Happens If You Violate Your Pennsylvania PFA Order?
It's extremely important that you stick to the terms of your PFA order. Violations of your PFA order will result in arrest, jail time, and possibly fines or probation. But that's not all. Violations could also be used as evidence against you in your PFA case.
Your PFA restrictions start immediately – as soon as you get notice of the order against you. That means from that moment on, your behavior is under a microscope. Most PFA orders forbid you from directly or indirectly contacting your accuser and whoever else is named, including children. That means in-person, phone, text, social media, or any other method of contact.
You may be required to leave your family home the day you find out about the PFA. You may not even get a chance to come back for any personal items you've left behind.
You might want to contact your accuser to try to find out why they petitioned for a PFA order, especially if the order involves false allegations against you. You might just want to talk to figure things out. But acting on these thoughts would be a huge mistake. The only person you should be thinking about contacting right now is a PFA defense lawyer.
Violation of PFA orders can do more than just send you to jail, which is bad enough. If you violate the terms of your PFA order, it could be the reason:
- Your temporary PFA becomes a permanent PFA up to 3 years long and shows up in your permanent record and background checks
- Your permanent PFA is extended by months or even years
- You lose custody or visitation of your children
If you're facing a PFA order, you may feel confused and overwhelmed. You probably have a lot of questions. What exactly are you not allowed to do? What about public spaces? What if you work with your accuser? What about out-of-state contact?
Your restrictions will depend on the specifics of your case. Call experienced Pennsylvania PFA lawyer Joseph D. Lento at (888) 535-3686 for a consultation today.
What Is a Third-Party Contact Violation?
You may consider going around your PFA restrictions by sending a message to your accuser through somebody else (a third party). This would also be a mistake.
It would be a violation of your PFA's no-contact order if you:
- Send one of your friends or family members to relay a message to your accuser, or
- Reach out directly to one of your accuser's friends or family members.
The law will most certainly catch you if you try to sneak around the restrictions in your PFA order. As soon as your accuser or their family learns that you've tried to contact them, no matter how indirectly, they can call 911 and you could be arrested for violating your PSA.
What Court Issues and Handles Pennsylvania PFA Orders?
Your Pennsylvania PFA order will come from the Court of Common Pleas in the local Pennsylvania Court where your accuser filed their PFA petition. This local county courthouse will handle all aspects of your PFA order, including your final hearing.
Failure to serve your PFA will not invalidate your PFA. If your accuser is unable to serve you your PFA notice, they may request additional time to have you served.
Who Should You Call If You've Been Served a PFA Order in Pennsylvania?
Once you've been served with a PFA order, you should call an experienced Pennsylvania PFA defense lawyer immediately to help you defend your rights.
A PFA order can change your daily life in the blink of an eye and put your future at stake. You might have to leave your home or change your schedule to avoid your accuser. You want to make sure you don't accidentally violate your PFA and end up in jail. A Pennsylvania PFA lawyer can help you navigate the rules and restrictions in your order.
Once you get notice of your PFA, you should NOT call your accuser or try to contact your accuser in any way. Direct or indirect contact with your accuser is usually not allowed once a PFA has been served. Courts take this very seriously.
Even if your PFA does not forbid contact with your accuser, it's generally a good idea to avoid the other party in your PFA case. Your behavior is under a microscope in the PFA process. Anything you say or do could be used against you in your PFA hearing. PFA cases can be emotionally charged and difficult, with families at stake. It's best to avoid and minimize conflicts whenever possible. You must show the court that you respect the process.
Call the Lento Law Firm now at (888) 535-3686 to defend your rights. You want the best PFA defense attorney in the state to be your advocate and have your back at your final PFA hearing. Especially if you've been falsely accused of abuse.
What Is an Emergency PFA Order in Pennsylvania?
An emergency PFA in Pennsylvania is usually issued on a weekend or at night when the regular court is not available. The plaintiff must show an immediate danger of abuse that requires protection before courts will reopen to the public. An Emergency Protection From Abuse Order is granted if the judge believes that your accuser is in imminent danger.
Plaintiffs can call the local police to find the best contact for getting an emergency PFA after-hours. Emergency PFA orders usually have short expiration dates, such as 24 hours or by the Monday after a weekend. This can be extended if the plaintiff goes to the courthouse by the end of the next business day before the emergency order expires. Your accuser can ask the court for a temporary PFA order, which will start the PFA hearing process.
Emergency PFA orders offer the same protection from abuse as temporary PFA orders. They often forbid you from contacting your accuser. They also come with similar criminal consequences for violating the terms of your order.
You should treat emergency and temporary PFAs seriously and contact an experienced Pennsylvania PFA lawyer immediately with any questions. Violations of either order will result in contempt charges, which can land you in jail and carry a fine.
What Is a Temporary PFA Order in Pennsylvania?
Your accuser may petition their local court for a temporary order for protection from abuse. Pennsylvania courts will issue temporary PFA orders to prevent abuse from happening to your accuser or any minor children who are involved. Temporary PFA orders can become permanent based on the outcome of your final PFA hearing.
When issuing a temporary PFA order, the judge will conduct ex parte (one-sided) proceedings with your accuser. “Ex parte” means that you will not be present when the accuser first meets with the judge. A temporary PFA will be ordered against you if the judge deems it necessary to protect your accuser or your children from abuse.
Within a day or two, you will be served with a copy of the temporary PFA order against you. You may need to stop all contact with your accuser, move out of your family home, and hand over any firearms, guns, or ammunition you have in your possession to your local sheriff.
Temporary PFA orders usually schedule the final PFA hearing within 10 days of being served. You don't have a lot of time and you need to be prepared for your hearing, which can determine the outcome of your case. You need to read your PFA to find out when your hearing is scheduled and contact a PFA lawyer immediately to build your defense.
At Lento Law Firm, we can help you gather the best evidence in your defense and identify witnesses who can help your case. Call our office at (888) 535-3686 to get started right away.
What Is Covered Under a Pennsylvania PFA Order?
When you have a PFA filed against you, you should prepare for your life to change rapidly and drastically. You must act quickly to protect your interests. Your accuser may demand a long list of relief items and payments to make up for your alleged abuse. If you fail to defend yourself against these allegations, the changes in your life may become permanent, with severe consequences for your family, home, and career.
Courts may grant the following types of relief against you in a PFA order:
- Explicitly forbid you from abusing your accuser or children
- Give complete possession of the family home to the accuser, evicting you in the process
- Direct you to pay spousal and child support to those living in the family home
- Award temporary child custody or establish temporary child visitation rights
- Forbid you from having any contact with your accuser or children
- Forbid you from entering your accuser's place of employment or business
- Forbid you from entering your accuser's or children's school
- Prohibit you from harassing your accuser or their relatives or children
- Prohibit you from buying or possessing guns, firearm, or ammunition
At your final PFA hearing, the court will decide if your temporary PFA will become permanent. If the court rules against you, it may grant additional relief to your accuser. You may have to pay for additional support and fees associated with the abuse, such as:
- Health insurance payments
- Mortgage or rent for the family home
- Medical or dental bills incurred as a result of the abuse
- Costs to repair or replace any property you damaged or took
- Counseling, relocation, and moving expenses
- Payments for loss of earnings or support
- Reasonable attorney's fees
The financial consequences of having a permanent PFA filed against you is devastating. Keep in mind that your employment will likely be put at risk with a PFA on your record.
Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 as soon as possible for a strong advocate to protect you against these charges.
What Is a Final PFA Hearing in Pennsylvania?
Your final PFA Hearing is your one best chance to contest the order filed against you. You'll attend your hearing at the county courthouse within 10 days of receiving notice. During this hearing, it's the accuser's responsibility to prove that the abuse occurred.
Your accuser has to meet the burden of proof to establish your guilt. The standard of proof to show abuse in PFA cases is by a “preponderance of the evidence.” This civil court standard is much lower than the standard of proof in criminal cases, which means it's easier for your accuser to prove their PFA claims of abuse. Under this standard, your accuser only needs to prove that it was more than 50% likely that you committed abuse.
That's why you must take care to gather evidence in favor of your innocence. But not all evidence is created equal. Courts have complicated rules on what types of evidence can be accepted. Your lawyer can help you compile the most relevant evidence in your defense.
The PFA against you will be dropped if your accuser is unable to meet the standard of proof. It's in your best interest to hire an attorney immediately to start building your defense. Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 to get started right now.
What Is a Final Order In a Pennsylvania PFA Proceeding?
A Final PFA Order (FPO) is a permanent order that the judge enters against you at the final hearing if they decide that you are guilty of the alleged abuse.
As stated and required by law in the Pennsylvania Protection From Abuse Act (PFAA), this Final PFA Order will direct you to:
- Stop abusing, harassing, or stalking the accuser,
- Stop attempting or threatening physical force against your accuser or children, and
- Surrender your guns, ammunition, and firearm licenses.
Your final PFA order may include other types of relief that were included in the temporary PFA against you. These include fees and additional restrictions on your behavior.
FPOs expire in 3 years. Every 3 years, the plaintiff will have the option to renew the FPO. At that point, you will receive another notice with a new chance to argue against the order. You will have the same rights and procedures as the first time around.
What Should You Expect the Day of Your Final PFA Hearing?
You've been very careful about following the no-contact rules in your temporary Pennsylvania PFA. How do you continue to keep your distance from your accuser when you both show up to court at the same time for your final PFA hearing?
Your PFA order's no-contact rules continue even when you arrive at the courthouse. For that reason, you want to be proactive. You don't want to cause issues before the hearing even begins. Your lawyer can help you navigate the situation. Do not sit or stand near your accuser. Look presentable and be respectful to courthouse staff.
On the day of your hearing, you should assume that you're being watched at all times in and around the courthouse. Your behavior matters – you want to make the best impression possible. You must prepare for what will probably be a highly emotional hearing. You will likely hear your accuser list the reasons why they're afraid of you. This may not be easy to hear. In the case of false accusations, you may get upset if your accuser distorts the truth. But you need to keep your cool. If you overreact, the judge could see it as evidence of your poor moral character.
You want to show the judge that you are self-controlled and calm. If you act impulsively out of anger, that could only work to add credence to your accuser's claims.
Joseph D. Lento has handled thousands of PFA cases in Pennsylvania and he can help. Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 today for a case consultation.
Can You Bring a Lawyer to Your Final PFA Hearing?
Yes. You have the right to have a lawyer at every stage of the Pennsylvania PFA process. In fact, calling a lawyer is one of the first things you should do after finding out you've had a PFA order filed against you. Strong legal representation can make or break your defense.
Call the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 for an experienced Pennsylvania PFA defense attorney to represent your interests.
What Kind of Evidence Can You Bring at a PFA Hearing?
Gathering and presenting evidence is one of the most complicated parts of the Pennsylvania PFA process. You might think that any evidence you bring up in your defense will be entered into the record by the court. But in many cases, that's not true.
Your lawyer can help you gather evidence that the court will accept. Trying to do this alone can otherwise be a confusing and frustrating process. Getting it wrong could cost you the outcome of your case. Your lawyer can also attend your hearing and present your evidence for you.
The most common form of evidence is written evidence, including communications like text messages or emails. Your attorney will be able to subpoena phone records to help defend your side of the story. Your lawyer will know how to properly identify and prepare police records, photographs, and any type of medical or hospital records.
The more information that you tell your attorney, the better they can represent you. Being served with a PFA order can feel overwhelming. You might not know how to move forward so you stay stuck. But the worst thing you can do is fail to prepare for your defense.
It's important that you tell your attorney all the details about your relationship history. Your lawyer is your trusted advisor. Make sure to tell your lawyer before your hearing about any incidents or evidence your accuser might use against you. If you don't, your accuser may bring them up at your hearing as a surprise, which only hurts your defense. Your lawyer needs to know the full story so that they can help you make the best choices.
When it comes to compiling the best evidence for your defense, call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 for a dedicated Pennsylvania PFA defense attorney.
Are You Allowed to Talk at Your Pennsylvania PFA Hearing?
Yes. In fact, you are encouraged to show up at your hearing and engage thoughtfully. You have the chance here to share your side of the story with your own testimony. You get to tell the judge and the court your side of the events exactly as you remember them.
You can expect your accuser to cite specific dates and times where they allege that abuse occurred. You'll need to explain what you believe happened during those incidents. It's important that the judge hears from both you as well as your accuser. You may add details in your testimony that your accuser may leave out.
It's best to prepare in advance for your testimony. Depending on when some of the allegations of abuse occurred, you may struggle to remember what you saw, heard, and did in the past. However, your final hearing is your only chance to share your side of the story. You don't want to get caught off guard when your accuser or their lawyer asks you a question.
Try to answer your accuser's questions directly and don't share more than you need to. Rambling could expose more information that the accuser's side can use against you. It's important to be respectful and not to interrupt anyone when they're talking at the hearing.
A good PFA lawyer can help your hearing go as smoothly as possible.
Who Is the PFA Hearing Officer?
A hearing officer is the person assigned to oversee a Pennsylvania PFA hearing.
Your hearing officer may be:
- A magisterial district judge,
- A judge of the local city's municipal court,
- A specially-appointed arraignment court magistrate,
- An appointed special master, or
- A master for emergency relief.
A master for emergency relief is a member of the bar of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, appointed for the special emergency relief of restraining orders.
What If Your Accuser Doesn't Show up for the PFA Hearing?
If your accuser doesn't show up for the final hearing, the judge is likely to dismiss the PFA filed against you – which would be good news for you.
According to statistics from Pennsylvania courts, out of all PFA cases:
- 30% involve PFA hearings where the accuser doesn't appear
- 21% are withdrawn by the plaintiff
- 20% see the parties coming to an agreement
- 6% end up dismissed without an FPO
- 5% don't get an FPO from the judge after the hearing
The remaining 18% of cases end up with a Final PTO Order (FPO) filed against the defendant. Having an attorney to represent you will improve your odds even more.
You cannot control whether your accuser shows up for the final hearing or not. If you try to convince or intimidate your accuser into missing the hearing, that will violate your temporary PFA and land you in jail. It may also result in further charges being filed against you. So the best course of action is to just worry about showing up yourself.
Do not try to contact your accuser to see whether they're coming to the hearing or not. Even if you don't mean any harm by the call, it would still be a violation of your no-contact order and the court could see it as an attempt to intimidate. You don't want to violate your temporary PFA before you even have a chance to make your case in front of the judge.
What If You Need to Reschedule Your Final Hearing Date?
When you receive the PFA order against you, you need to first read it. The paperwork will include the date and time for your final PFA hearing. Your hearing will usually be scheduled within 10 days of your accuser petitioning the court for the PFA.
You need to immediately write to the court if you're not able to attend on the scheduled day. The court needs to know why you can't be present and when you'll be available.
If you have a serious conflict on the date of your final hearing, a lawyer can help you ask the court for a continuance. This will move back the date of your final hearing.
If you don't show up on your scheduled final hearing date, the court will enter a default judgment against you. If you want to contest your case, you must show up on your hearing date in person.
Can You Contest a PFA or Restraining Order in Pennsylvania?
Yes. Fortunately, Pennsylvania's PFA process automatically gives you a chance to defend yourself. To contest your PFA order, you simply have to show up to your final hearing.
If you don't show up to your PFA hearing, you lose your chance to defend yourself and contest the order. The judge may enter a Final Order judgment against you by default.
Once you've received notice of your Pennsylvania PFA, you should use this time to gather evidence and witnesses to help defend your side of the story at your final hearing. You also have the right to an attorney to help defend yourself at your hearing. You should absolutely take advantage of this right and find a strong advocate for your best chance at beating the charges.
An experienced Pennsylvania PFA lawyer can make all the difference for your defense. Preparing for a PFA hearing is like preparing for trial: there are important procedural and legal issues to consider. Going in without a legal advocate would be a huge mistake.
Your PFA defense attorney can help you contest the order by:
- Identifying evidence that the court will accept in your defense
- Finding the right witnesses to back up your side of the story
- Coming up with questions to ask your accuser and other witnesses
- Preparing you for questions you can expect to answer at your hearing
- Coaching you through the process and supporting you on the day of your hearing
If you're facing a protection from abuse order in Pennsylvania, Joseph D. Lento is the advocate you want on your side defending you. Call (888) 535-3686 today to talk to an experienced Pennsylvania PFA lawyer about your case.
Can a PFA Order Be Lifted, Removed, or Dropped in Pennsylvania?
Yes, it's possible. Your accuser may withdraw the PFA they've filed against you at any time. However, the judge makes the ultimate decision about whether to actually lift the PFA or not.
Whenever a plaintiff attempts to withdraw their PFA order, the judge must determine if the accuser is being threatened or put under duress by you or anyone else. The judge will make a decision after reviewing all of the accuser's new information.
Even if you know your accuser is planning to withdraw the PFA, you still should not attempt to contact them in any way. You must wait until you receive written confirmation that your PFA has been lifted and removed from the judge. If you take action and contact your accuser too soon, they may report you for being in violation of your order.
Your accuser may also say they'll withdraw the PFA but never actually do it. The judge may also not allow it. Either way, you want to always protect yourself.
Can a PFA Order Be Overturned in Pennsylvania?
You can contest the temporary PFA filed against you at your final hearing. If you successfully defend yourself, the judge will dismiss the PFA against you.
If the judge enters a Final PFA Order (FPO) against you at your hearing, you can file a Motion of Reconsideration anytime within 10 days. This motion argues that the judge made a mistake when they entered the FPO against you.
You can also appeal the judge's decision within 30 days after your FPO is entered. It's critical to have a lawyer at this stage to put together the proper legal briefs and documents. In your appeal, your attorney will argue that the judge made a mistake of fact, law, or both.
Joseph Lento has fought for the rights of the falsely accused in Pennsylvania for over a decade. He's dedicated his legal career to defending his clients' rights. Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 to speak with an experienced Pennsylvania PFA attorney today about your appeal.
How Do Pennsylvania PFA Orders Work in Public Places?
A Pennsylvania PFA is enforced in all areas including public places across the country.
That means if you become aware that your accuser will be at a public place, you must leave the area. You must also do the same with any children named in the order. If your accuser sees you at a public place, they can report you to the police for violating your PFA.
A Pennsylvania PFA violation could mean jail, probation, and fines. That's why it's important to understand and respect the restrictions in your order.
Your friends or family members may struggle to understand the consequences of a PFA violation. You have to make sure they realize what could happen to you if they don't help you cooperate with your order. Anyone who tries to contact your accuser on your behalf – even without you knowing – could land you in more legal trouble.
How Do Pennsylvania PFA Orders Work in School?
If your case involves a minor child, the court is required to report your PFA to their school. No matter how much you want to attend your children's educational programs, you won't be able to if your accuser is there or if your children are included in the protection order. That means you could miss recitals, sports matches, parent-teacher conferences, and even graduations.
Under Pennsylvania law, schools are not allowed to provide a minor's information to you if they are named in a PFA against you. No matter how much you might want to contact your children, you have to always remember the real threat of jail time if you violate your order.
Pennsylvania PFA orders apply in schools similar to public spaces. If you and your accuser attend classes at the same school, you may have to change your schedule or transfer out.
PFA orders can have dramatic consequences for your life, similar to restraining orders. You may end up disconnected from your home, your family, and your children. It's important to hire an experienced Pennsylvania PFA defense attorney so that you won't miss these important moments in their lives. Call the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686.
Can a Pennsylvania PFA Order Stop You From Going to a Funeral?
Regrettably, yes. Pennsylvania PFA orders, similar to other types of restraining orders, apply in both public and private spaces. Even though funerals are private family affairs, your PFA prevents you from attending if your accuser or minor children are there too.
You cannot attend any funerals or other family events even if your accuser tells you it's okay. Even if your accuser reaches out to initiate contact, you must not respond. Your PFA is still active and any response from you would be a violation of your no-contact order. Your accuser could report you and you could be arrested and go to jail.
Are Pennsylvania PFA Orders Enforceable in Other States?
Yes. Pennsylvania PFA orders are a type of protection order, in the same category of restraining orders. Every state in the U.S. has a quick process of looking up other state's restraining or protective orders. A police officer in another state will enforce a Pennsylvania PFA in their state.
All 50 states have a reciprocal relationship when it comes to protective and restraining orders. All Pennsylvania PFA orders are presumed valid in other states. In response, all out-of-state protection orders are presumed valid in Pennsylvania. That means police officers in other states can arrest you for violations of a Pennsylvania PFA in their state.
When making an arrest, police officers from other states will rely on whatever copy of the Pennsylvania PFA is available to them.
Are Restraining Orders From Other States Enforced in Pennsylvania?
Yes, all protective and restraining orders have reciprocal rights that apply across all 50 states. That means an out-of-state restraining order is considered active in Pennsylvania as long as it's active in its original state. Pennsylvania police will enforce out-of-state restraining orders.
You might not have realized that your Pennsylvania PFA order has consequences in other states – or vice versa. You now have new rules that apply to you every day, even when you travel across state lines. You can avoid violating your restraining order across state lines by staying informed of your restrictions while traveling.
Restraining orders can affect your life in many ways you might not have even imagined. Below are real-world examples of how restraining orders can affect your traveling rights:
In-Person Contact Out of State
You have a restraining order served to you by the New Jersey court system, filed by your wife on behalf of her and your children. Through social media, you find out that your family has planned a vacation in Pennsylvania. You decide you want to see the Liberty Bell too and plan for your own vacation to Pennsylvania during the same time as your family. You're excited about your vacation and you hope to run into your children while you're there.
According to your New Jersey restraining order, you're not allowed to contact your children. You believe going out of state is your chance to finally see them because you think that your restraining order only applies in New Jersey.
Unfortunately, just because you have a New Jersey restraining order doesn't give you the freedom to contact your family in Pennsylvania – or anywhere else in the United States. The Pennsylvania police will honor your out-of-state restraining order from New Jersey. They'll treat your NJ restraining order just like it was a Pennsylvania restraining order.
If your family finds out that you approached them in violation of your restraining order, your accuser will likely call 911 and the local police will come to arrest you. You'll end up in jail in Pennsylvania, far away from your home in New Jersey. Getting arrested far from home can further complicate your legal situation and make it difficult to defend yourself.
Remember, if your restraining order says to not contact your accuser, you can't contact your accuser in any state without penalty of violating your restraining order.
Your Accuser Moves Out of State
You and your accuser both lived in New Jersey when they filed a restraining order against you. Your New Jersey restraining order is still valid when you find out by chance on social media that your accuser moved away from New Jersey to Pennsylvania.
You wish you could reach out to your accuser to find out why they moved away. You think that because you have a New Jersey restraining order you can now contact your accuser since they left the state where your restraining order was filed.
You're still in New Jersey when you text your accuser. This single act would be a violation of your restraining order even though you're in separate states. Your accuser can call 911 and your local New Jersey police would arrest you. Any additional contact like following your accuser to their new out-of-state home or workplace would result in arrest and jail.
Contacting Minor Children Who Move Out of State
You have an active Pennsylvania PFA order against you. Your accuser is your ex-spouse who also has full custody of your two children, who are in elementary and middle school. Your PFA order forbids you from contacting your ex-wife or children.
Your ex-spouse gets a new job that results in them moving the family to New Jersey. As a result, you don't see your children in over a year. You miss them and think that an out-of-state visit could be your chance to see them. In Pennsylvania, the teachers and parents at your kids' school knew about the restraining order against you. But you don't think anyone would recognize you or know about the order at the new school in New Jersey.
You decide to attend your child's school show. Unfortunately, your ex-spouse and your children see you there. They call the New Jersey police, who arrest you for violating your Pennsylvania PFA order. You face additional jail time and fines because of this mistake.
Just because your accuser crosses a state line that doesn't give you the right to contact them. You can easily violate your Pennsylvania PFA even if you make out-of-state contact with your accuser or any minor child covered by the order.
Restraining and protective orders can complicate your plans if you have an out-of-state event you want to attend where your accuser will also be in attendance. Call attorney Joseph D. Lento today at (888) 535-3686 for help on navigating your Pennsylvania PFA order.
Are PFA Orders Permanent in Pennsylvania?
At first, your accuser will petition the court for either an emergency or a temporary PFA. The judge will review the information provided by the accuser. If the judge decides that your accuser needs immediate protection from abuse, they will grant the order.
Both emergency and temporary PFA orders are temporary. Neither is permanent. However, they may become permanent after your final PFA hearing.
You will find the scheduled date of your final PFA Hearing in the PFA paperwork that was served to you. Your final hearing is where the judge assigned to your case will make a decision based on the evidence presented by both parties – you and your accuser. At this hearing, the judge will decide whether to dismiss the order against you or make it permanent. It's absolutely critical that you go to your PFA hearing and have a strong legal representative on your side. A permanent PFA can have a profound impact on your life for the long term.
The final hearing is a pivotal part of your case where your temporary PFA may become a more permanent Final PFA Order. Final PFA Orders are active for a fixed period of time, anywhere from 1 month up to 3 years. When your Final PFA Order's time runs out, your accuser will have the option to renew the order for another period of time.
A Final PFA Order is only legally lifted when a judge declares it so. At any point, either party can file new petitions and the court may amend its order in response. If the judge agrees that your accuser is no longer in danger of abuse, your final PFA order may be withdrawn. However, the decision to lift your PFA is always up to the judge assigned to your case – not your accuser.
That means your PFA remains active until a judge withdraws it. Whenever a plaintiff requests to withdraw a protective order in Pennsylvania, the judge is legally required to make sure they're not being coerced or forced into withdrawing the order. Just because your accuser tells you that they're going to withdraw the PFA is not enough for you to respond or contact them in any way. You must wait until the judge withdraws the order or you might be in violation of your PFA.
Unfortunately, your accuser may tell you they want to drop the PFA only to never go to the court to formally request a withdrawal. Or they may file a petition to withdraw but the judge may deny it. You need to protect yourself. That means you should not reply to your accuser until you have an actual legal document saying that you're allowed to do so.
You will be notified whenever a judge lifts your permanent restraining order. This will not be a gray area. You'll receive a legal court document clearly stating that you no longer have to obey the protection order filed against you by your accuser.
You should also avoid contacting your accuser even a few days before your protective order expires. The protective order against you is valid all the way until its final expiration date, and may also be extended. Contacting your accuser even a day before it expires would be a violation that could extend your order for months or even years.
Even short PFA orders can be extended if your accuser submits a new petition to the court. Pennsylvania PFA orders can be renewed every 3 years, indefinitely – as long as the court finds a threat of abuse. The truth is, you have no guarantee as to when your PFA will finally be lifted.
You could have a Pennsylvania PFA order active against you for decades. A protective order can seriously affect your life for an indeterminable amount of time. Your future could look completely different than what you imagined and worked for all your life.
At Lento Law Firm, we know what's at stake. We're here to help you get your life back on track. Call our experienced Pennsylvania PFA defense law firm at (888) 535-3686 today for a consultation of your case.
What is the Time Limit for a Pennsylvania PFA Order?
The maximum length of time for a single Pennsylvania Final PFA Order is 3 years.
However, your accuser may go back to the court at any time to request an extension, even before the protective order expires. There's no limit on the number of extensions that your accuser may request. as long as your accuser can continue to show evidence of a threat of harm or abuse, the judge will grant the extension.
Your Pennsylvania PFA will likely be renewed against you if you've:
- Violated the restrictions of your protective order in any way, or
- Acted in a way that demonstrates a risk of harm to your accuser or your minor children.
You might think that the only negative consequence of violating your order is going to jail. But violating your restraining order can also extend the order, which is a consequence in itself.
If you include extensions, a PFA order may last anywhere up to ten years or more. You could have a continuous restraining order against you for decades.
If you violated the PFA against you because you missed your accuser or your children, you need to think about these consequences. Your desire to see or contact them could lengthen the amount of time that you must continue to stay away.
For example, even if the court initially gives you a 9-month Final PFA Order, it could be extended for another two years if you violate it during this time. Pennsylvania judges have the power to grant your accuser an extension up to 3 years if they determine that your behavior shows a continued risk of harm or abuse to your accuser or children.
Behavior that shows a risk of harm or abuse could be:
- Getting into physical fights with other people
- Damaging the personal property of others
- Damaging someone's building
- Forced entry into someone's home
- Threatening calls or messages
- Bursts of anger or rage
When you receive a PFA order, you must be on your best behavior. Any evidence of poor moral character could be brought up in court against you as evidence that you could harm your accuser. You also want the people around you – your employers, other family members, friends, and coworkers – to be able to provide positive character witnesses in your defense.
Your Pennsylvania PFA lawyer can help you put together evidence in your defense by compiling witness statements and coaching witnesses who will testify for you in court. Your attorney can help advise you on how to act and what not to do.
If you have questions about your restraining order expiration or renewal, call experienced Pennsylvania PFA defense attorney Joseph D. Lento today at (888) 535-3686.
What Happens When a PFA Order Expires?
Once your restraining or protective order expires, you are no longer under any legal obligation to follow the restrictions in the order. However, simply knowing that your protective order is expiring soon doesn't mean that you should immediately try to contact your accuser. You want to continue obeying your PFA up until the final date of expiration.
When your PFA expires it'll be purged from the Pennsylvania State Police registry. This is the database that police use when looking up whether someone has a valid restraining order against them. When your PFA expires, you're no longer restrained by its terms.
Before the current PFA against you expires, your accuser has the option to renew it. They could be in the process of gathering evidence for an extension. This is another reason not to contact your accuser before your PSA actually expires. You don't want to violate any terms in your restraining order before it's legally safe for you to take certain actions.
Your PFA may be extended for up to a maximum of 3 more years.
What If You've Been Falsely Accused of Abuse in Pennsylvania?
Once your accuser files a PFA against you, your timetable is already running out fast. In most cases, you'll have less than 10 days to prepare for the final hearing.
Sometimes in a heated divorce or child custody case, one party may file a PFA against the other under false accusations. Unfortunately, a Pennsylvania PFA won't just go away even if you're been falsely accused. You cannot afford to just ignore the protection order against you.
You may be heartbroken to learn that your intimate partner or spouse has filed a restraining order against you based on false accusations. Finding out about your PFA may have been the biggest shock of your life. You may even second-guess yourself and wonder where you went wrong. The worst thing you can do however is to try to contact your accuser to get answers.
Your accuser may be relying on you to react poorly to the restraining order against you. If you try to contact them, they can use that as evidence against you. You shouldn't even reply if they reach out to you, because any response from you would be in violation of your order. Instead, you should talk to your PFA defense lawyer immediately.
Remember that PFA orders stand for protection from abuse. This is a serious charge. Having a PFA entered against you might cause your divorce or child custody case to be resolved in your accuser's favor. You may lose your right to see your children. These types of charges are extremely emotional, but it's important to stay as level-headed as possible.
False accusations are terrible. Sometimes, one party may file abuse allegations against the other in order to win custody of the children. If you're on the receiving end of these accusations, this could take your situation from bad to worse. If you try to contact your accuser and violate your temporary PFA as a result, you could be arrested and sent to jail. Getting arrested won't be good for your PSA case or your child custody case.
You may be hurt, angry, and confused, but the last thing you want to do is give the other side more evidence to use against you. An experienced Pennsylvania PFA lawyer can help you understand exactly where you stand and how to navigate these new circumstances. Your lawyer can help you prepare your defense for your final PFA hearing.
Your final PFA hearing is your one and only chance to share your side of the story before a permanent restraining order will be entered against you. If you've been falsely accused of abuse in Pennsylvania, this is your chance to show the court your innocence. The final hearing will involve bringing in evidence and witnesses. After the hearing, the Judge may grant a permanent PFA to be entered against you for a period of time up to 3 years.
If you don't show up to your final PFA hearing, the judge will most likely enter a default judgment against you. You want to avoid getting a default judgment because trying to appeal a Final PFA Order given by a judge is no easy task. You must be prepared to defend yourself at your final hearing – otherwise, you'll be too late. Your best chance at defending yourself is before a Final PFA Order has been filed against you by the court.
The first step you need to take when you've been falsely accused of abuse in Pennsylvania is to contact your attorney. You need an experienced Pennsylvania PFA lawyer to represent your defense at your final hearing so that your restraining order doesn't become permanent. Call the offices of Joseph D. Lento at (888) 535-3686 to get started today.
What Happens If Your Accuser Lied on a Pennsylvania PFA Order?
If your accuser knowingly gives false information to a police officer while filing their PFA petition against you, they can face serious legal repercussions.
As soon as you receive your restraining order paperwork, you must start gathering evidence of your innocence to present at your final hearing. This could include:
- Witness statements and testimony about your character
- Emails or other documents that can give context to your relationship
There are many rules and laws that determine whether evidence is admissible. You may also struggle with proving abuse never happened. How do you prove the absence of something? Your lawyer will help you gather evidence that can be used in your defense at your final hearing.
False accusations of abuse can be extremely upsetting, especially if they're made against you by an intimate partner whom you trusted. But it's crucial you don't react in a way that you'll regret later or will hurt your chances in court.
First and foremost, do not contact your accuser in any way. This is usually one of the main rules in a protective order. Violating a Pennsylvania PFA order's no-contact rule will result in you getting arrested and being sent to jail. Not only that, but this violation can be the reason your temporary PFA becomes permanent after your final hearing.
If you're in an emotional, high-conflict situation with a loved one, you always need to remember that you must protect yourself legally. You don't want to say or write anything that your accuser could use against you in your protective order hearing. Even jokes or comments you make without thinking could be seen as a threat. You want to avoid any situations where you could be baited into reacting emotionally. If your accuser has made false accusations against you, they could use the PFA system to hurt you further.
This is especially true of written communications, including text messages and social media posts. Even if you block your accuser from seeing your social media profile, someone who knows you both could screenshot that content and alert your accuser. When the judge in your case reads these comments, they won't know the mood, tone, or context. Anything you write on the internet, no matter how flippant, can be taken out of context to make you look bad.
If you're facing a protective order under false accusations in Pennsylvania, call a dedicated Pennsylvania PFA defense lawyer today at (888) 535-3686. Joseph D. Lento has defended clients against false accusations for over a decade. The Lento Law Firm can help you fight these charges and get your life and career back on track.
How Do You Prove a False PFA Accusation in Pennsylvania?
If someone has filed a protection from abuse order against you based on false accusations, you will be served with a temporary PFA. At this point, you need to do everything in your power to stop the temporary PFA from becoming permanent.
Whatever you do, do not contact your accuser to blame them for falsely accusing you. This could be a violation of your PFA order and you could go to jail. A violation of your order will also make it more likely that your PFA will become permanent. Instead, contact a PFA defense lawyer and save all your evidence to bring up at your final PFA hearing.
Your final PFA hearing is your opportunity to show the court evidence of your innocence. You have the right to bring witnesses to testify on your behalf. You are also allowed to testify at your final hearing in your own defense. In fact, you should generally prepare ahead of time what points you want to make at your hearing. Your lawyer can coach you.
A restraining order can have devastating consequences for your life and your career, even if it's based on a false accusation. If your temporary PFA becomes permanent, you'd have to disclose it to licensing boards, employers, and school applications. You may lose career or educational opportunities as a result of a routine background check. If you're a public figure or a local business owner, your reputation could take a hit and struggle to recover.
The truth is that when you get a restraining order filed against you, your life literally changes overnight. If your temporary restraining order becomes permanent, these changes can last for years. Unfortunately, you can't just trust the process to uncover the truth for you. You have to address these accusations head-on. Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 to get started on a winning defense strategy right away.
How Will a PFA Order Affect Your Child Custody Situation in Pennsylvania?
If your PFA accuser claims that you abuse your children, that can drastically change the outcome of any child custody situation you might be in.
Depending on the specifics of your custody case, your PFA could cause you to:
- Lose custody, partial custody, or unsupervised visitation rights,
- Be required to have supervised custodial access by a third party,
- Get only supervised visitation in a secure visitation facility, or
- Be denied custodial access to your child entirely.
Even if the court doesn't take away your custodial rights directly, a restraining order can cause drastic changes in your life that affect the relationship you have with your children. You may be forced to move out of your home or take another job that's far from your family. You may be unable to contact your children because of the terms of your PFA.
Being separated from your children is difficult for any parent. The consequences of a restraining order are bad enough to deal with on their own. You may feel even more upset and overwhelmed when you have to deal with the possibility of losing your family.
If you currently have any type of relationship with your child, you must proceed carefully once you receive your PFA. Many protective orders forbid the defendant from contacting the accuser. This no-contact rule often applies to minor children who are involved. If your intimate partner accuses you of abusing them, the court may also decide that you pose a threat to your children. That means you are not allowed to contact your accuser or your children in any way.
The court may change your child custody arrangement if the judge finds that you're likely to:
- Abuse your children, or
- Move your children away before your hearing.
Do not try to forcibly or fraudulently take your children from your accuser. This would be a violation of your PFA that could get you additional criminal charges like kidnapping. You might even be subject to federal criminal charges if you take your children across state lines in violation of your restraining order. This is a real possibility around Pennsylvania and the Delaware Valley Tri-State area, where crossing state lines may be just a short car ride away.
If you take your children in violation of your PFA, the police will find and arrest you and the court will make you return your children back to your accuser. In some cases, if neither parent is available or fit to care for their children, the children may be given to the care of a third party, like a relative. This undoubtedly puts both you and your children in a much worse situation than you were before.
A violation of this magnitude can be a devastating blow to your PFA defense and your custody case. Your accuser could use your actions as evidence that you are a threat to your family. If you've violated a temporary PFA order, that could be the reason the order becomes permanent. If you violate an existing PFA that has yet to expire, the court may extend the expiration date for months or even years. If you have a restraining order that forbids you from contacting your children, no court is going to give you custody.
Don't let a false accusation get between you and your children. Call the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 as soon as possible to protect your relationships.
Can a Pennsylvania PFA Order Stop You From Contacting Your Child?
Yes. When filing for a PFA, your accuser can request protection from abuse for themselves and also for any minor children you have. If your children are named in the PFA order, the same no-contact restrictions apply to them in the same way that they apply to your accuser.
If you've been given a no-contact order by the court for your children, that means the judge believes there's a risk you may abuse them.
Under a no-contact order, you must not:
- Go to your accuser's workplace or your children's school
- Harass your accuser, their relatives, or your children.
Whoever has full custody of their children has the right to move them to a different school or school district. Even if your family moves, your children's school will be notified that they have a restraining order against you. The new school will know not to let you contact your children.
Trying to visit your child's school, summer job, or frequent hangouts are all grounds for violating your restraining order. If you know your children will be at a public place, you must leave the area – even if you arrive first and it's a public event, like a county fair. If you become aware that your family is nearby, you are legally required to leave the event. Otherwise, your accuser can call the police and you would get arrested for violating your PFA.
Your family's best interest is for your conflict to be resolved with as little disruption and long-term damage as possible. You don't want to miss major developmental periods in your children's lives because of a mistake. At Lento Law Firm, we know that this is an emotional time. Call our office today at (888) 535-3686 for help getting through this and protecting your future.
Can a PFA Order Stop You From Going to Your Child's Daycare?
Yes. If your child is a protected person listed in your PFA order, you may not be allowed to have any contact with them. This depends on the specifics of the PFA order against you and whether the judge determines that you present a threat of abuse to your child.
In the case of a no-contact order, you would be prohibited from seeing or contacting your child in any way, directly or indirectly. This includes contacting them in-person, through text messages or social media chats, at their home, school, daycare, park, or any other public place. It even includes private family gatherings where you expect you might see your accuser or children.
Your child's school, daycare, and close friends will likely be notified that you're not allowed to see them. If you try to see your child at daycare, the facility could call the police. If you're arrested for violating your restraining order you could go to jail and lose your custody rights.
How Do Pennsylvania PFA Orders Work With Child Visitation?
If you get a restraining order that includes your children, your child visitation rights will be canceled as long as that restraining order remains active. That means any visits you have scheduled with your children may be canceled.
If your accuser files a protective order against you but doesn't include the children, you may still be allowed to visit your children but your schedule may be affected. The restraining order makes the visitation process more difficult to arrange since you can't be in contact with your accuser. The judge may assign a third party to be present while you're meeting with your children.
In some cases, the judge may set a third-party drop-off location for you and your accuser to pick up and transfer custody of your children while you visit, like a police station. You may also have someone from Child Protective Services assigned to be with you while your children visit.
There's no doubt that protective and restraining orders can be extremely disruptive to your life. However, the right lawyer can help negotiate better terms for you at every point in the PFA and child custody process. By providing your own evidence, you could argue for more lenient restrictions. A strong defense attorney will be ready to fight for your interests at every turn.
Can You Be Evicted for Getting a PFA Order in Pennsylvania?
Yes. If you get a Pennsylvania PFA order filed against you, you may be evicted from your family home, especially if you live with your accuser.
In fact, restrictions from protective orders apply as soon as you receive notice. That means you could be evicted from your family home immediately. You may not even get the chance to come back to your family home to gather things you may have forgotten. PFA orders can suddenly change your living situation, even if your name is on the mortgage or rental lease.
This can be devastating news to hear and a very difficult situation to experience. Where do you go? How long will the eviction last? If a temporary PFA becomes permanent, you'd have to find a new place to live permanently.
In rare cases, you may end up staying in the family home but you have to make arrangements for your accuser to live somewhere suitable. The details of every PFA order depends on the facts of the specific situation. The judge in your case will use their best discretion on what they think should happen to keep your accuser safe from abuse.
if you get evicted from the home where you lived with your accuser and children, you'll have to continue paying the mortgage or rent payments if you were doing so before. That means when you find a place for yourself, you may end up paying for two separate homes. This can be a huge financial burden on the accused.
The Lento Law Firm is here to help you. Joseph D. Lento can help you determine whether your eviction was legal and contest the court's decision on your behalf. Call our office now at (888) 535-3686 to get your life back on the right track.
Can a Pennsylvania PFA Order Be Granted on a Holiday?
Yes. Your accuser can petition for a Pennsylvania PFA during after hours, when the regular courthouse is closed. Your local court will have a judge who is on call to take cases during weekends, weekday nights, and holidays. Even on major holidays like New Year's or federal holidays when the courthouse is closed, your accuser only needs to call 911 for help.
Pennsylvania lawmakers, judges, and law enforcement officers all work together to ensure that any person has an opportunity to ask for protection from abuse at any time and for free.
What Is Considered Abuse in a Pennsylvania PFA Order?
Abuse is defined under the Pennsylvania Protection From Abuse Act (PFAA). When most people think of abuse, they think of physical abuse. but the definition is more broad than that.
Pennsylvania PFA orders can be granted for five different types of abuse:
- Bodily injury or harm of any kind
- Threat or fear of bodily injury
- False imprisonment
- Violence towards minor children
- Harassment or stalking
Causing Bodily Injury
Bodily injury is broken down into sexual and non-sexual injury. A judge would find you guilty of abuse if your accuser proves to the court that you:
- Attempted to cause bodily injury to your accuser, or
- Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly caused bodily injury to your accuser.
Just because you didn't intentionally mean to harm doesn't get you off the hook. All that matters is that your accuser was injured. If a judge finds that your behavior was “reckless,” it doesn't matter if you were acting seriously or just being silly.
Serious bodily injury also includes non-consensual sexual acts of violence, such as:
- Sexual assault and rape
- Statutory sexual assault
- Indecent or aggravated indecent assault
- Incest with or without a deadly weapon
Fear or Threat of Imminent Bodily Injury
A court will grant a PFA order if your accuser can show a reasonable fear of imminent and serious bodily injury, where their safety is threatened by you.
Your partner may fear for their future safety if, for example, you leave for work one morning saying you'll beat them if they don't have a hot meal ready for you when you return. This is a clear and concrete example where your accuser can show threat of bodily injury.
Every adult person in the United States has the freedom to move about and go wherever they want. False imprisonment is a crime when you physically take someone or hold them somewhere against their will.
You could be charged with false imprisonment if your partner wants to leave the house you share to stay with a friend or relative – and you stop them from leaving. Or if your partner leaves you but you find them and force them to return home with you.
You may be afraid that if your partner leaves you, they'll never come back. However, you don't have the right to stop them from leaving. Trying to stop your partner from leaving you will probably result in more evidence against you in a protective order or domestic abuse case. Your accuser could bring it up at your PFA hearing as a reason they need protection. So although you may be feeling emotional, it's best to proceed with a cool head.
It's also illegal for you to threaten your partner if they ever leave. It's considered abuse if your partner is afraid to leave you because they fear that you'll hurt them.
Abuse of Minor Children
Every child should be free from abuse, especially from the closest people in their lives. Any type of injury or harm towards a child – physical or sexual – is considered abuse.
The court will take any incidence of child abuse very seriously. A false accusation of child abuse could cost you your custody, family, career, and reputation. Depending on the age of your children, this could affect your relationship with them forever.
If your children are listed in the protective order against you, you are not allowed to contact them in the same way you're not allowed to contact your accuser. You may want to sidestep your accuser and reach out to your children directly, especially if you're facing false accusations. Your children may even try to reach out to you. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to respond. your accuser will likely find out and they can report you to the police, who will arrest you for violating the terms of your restraining order.
Whenever children are involved, the law gets even more complex. Minor children have additional protections under the law that can complicate your case. You need an experienced lawyer more than ever to help you navigate your legal situation.
Harassment happens when someone repeatedly commits acts towards another person that make them fear for their safety. You can receive a protection from abuse order against you if you harass a family member or dating partner.
- Following or stalking someone in public or to their home or workplace
- Placing someone in reasonable fear of bodily injury
If you've been accused of harassment in a PFA order, you will most likely be forbidden from contacting your accuser. This includes direct and indirect contact. Your protective order will be temporary until your PFA hearing, where it can become permanent. Violating your PFA order in any way by contacting your accuser can be grounds to make it permanent.
Your lawyer can help you navigate the restrictions of your restraining order and help you put together your strongest defense. Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 today to speak about your case with an expert Pennsylvania PFA attorney you can trust.
Can You Get a PFA Order in Pennsylvania for Verbal Abuse?
Yes. Your accuser can petition for a protection order if verbal abuse causes them to fear for their safety. For example, threats are a type of verbal abuse that can lead to getting a protective order, even if you “weren't serious” about following through. It only matters that your accuser believed they were in danger of bodily harm or injury.
Based on the evidence your accuser presents to the court, the judge will decide whether a PFA order is necessary to protect them from harm.
Can You Get a PFA Order in Pennsylvania for Stalking?
Yes. Stalking is a type of harassment and can be grounds for a protective order.
If you receive a PFA order for stalking, the terms of the order will forbid you from contacting your accuser in any way. If you contact your accuser in violation of your PFA, you will go to jail.
Any household member, family member, or intimate partner (current or former) can petition for a PFA for stalking. Stalking can happen in person or online. This could be:
- Showing up at your accuser's home, school, or workplace
- Contacting your accuser's children or other family members
- Creating anonymous accounts to follow your accuser on social media
- Trying to contact your accuser through fake social media accounts
You may think that online contact is anonymous. But even if you create fake accounts or take other steps to protect your identity, you will almost always leave an electronic trail that police can find. If you violate the terms of the protective order against you in this way, you will be arrested and go to jail. You could also face probation and fines.
Stalking is a serious accusation with serious legal consequences. Call the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 to get started on your defense as soon as possible.
Can You Get a PFA Order in Pennsylvania for Text Messages?
Yes. Text messages and any other types of written communication can be considered abusive if they are harassing and threatening. Your accuser can get a protective order if your text messages make them fear for their physical safety.
Nowadays, text messages cover much more than you might think. Your accuser can turn over to the police any evidence of abuse not just in cellular text messages but also on any other messaging platform. This includes social media apps and websites.
Recently, social media platforms have come out where posts disappear after a certain amount of time. But just because a post disappears doesn't mean you're in the clear. If your accuser sees your post before it disappears, they can take a screenshot and use it as evidence.
Try not to fall into the trap of reacting emotionally to your PFA order. The moment you find out that your accuser has filed a protective order against you, you are not allowed to contact them. You might have a lot of questions. You might be confused or upset. You might think that your accuser is the only person who can help you understand why they filed the order. You might think that it's just one text message, so what's the harm? But you must not contact your accuser or you could be arrested and go to jail. This would not help your case.
Text messages and records can also count towards stalking or harassment charges. It's important that you tell your lawyer about any written communication that could be used against you at your final PFA hearing. That way, your lawyer can anticipate the evidence against you and build a solid defense. Call experienced PFA defense attorney Joseph D. Lento today at (888) 535-3686 to discuss your legal options.
Can You Get a PFA Order in Pennsylvania for Online Harassment?
Yes. As long as the accuser is either a family member or an intimate partner, online harassment is a form of abuse that warrants protection with a PFA.
Even if you never see your accuser in person or you haven't seen them in months or years, they could get a PFA order against you for online harassment. Once you get notice of the PFA order filed against you, you must stop contacting your accuser in any way, including online. Failing to follow the restrictions in your PFA will result in your arrest.
Online harassment can take many forms:
- Stalking or following your accuser on social media through anonymous accounts
- Posting threatening comments or responses on your accuser's social media content
- “Doxxing” your accuser, or publishing their personal information online
- Posting publicly about your accuser in a harassing way
You can even get a Pennsylvania PFA filed against you if you live out of state. As long as your accuser lives in Pennsylvania, they can petition their local court for a restraining order against you. This order would be active across the country in all 50 states. If you continued, you would be arrested by your local police department for violating your PFA's no-contact order.
Can You Get a PFA Order in Pennsylvania for Emotional or Psychological Abuse?
This depends. Protection from abuse orders are generally granted when the petitioner fears for their physical safety. The judge would have to look at the evidence brought by your accuser and determine whether the level of emotional or psychological abuse qualifies for a protective order. In doing so, the court may look at big-picture patterns in your relationship.
The best way to defend yourself against these allegations is to show evidence of your good character and other positive patterns in your relationship. You have the chance to fight the restraining order against you at your final PFA hearing.
Can You Get a PFA Order in Pennsylvania for Slander?
Slander is when someone makes a false statement that damages another person's reputation.
A PFA requires fear of imminent physical injury or bodily harm. Slander by itself generally is not considered abuse. The only way to get a PFA for slander would be if the slander made your accuser genuinely fear for their physical safety. At that point, it would qualify as harassment.
What Is the Cost of Filing for a Pennsylvania PFA Order?
There is no fee to petition for a Pennsylvania PFA order. Your accuser can file for a restraining order against you for free at any time. This is because the court system wants anyone to be able to come forward in the case of abuse, no matter their financial situation.
Once your accuser files the PFA petition against you, you will receive a temporary PFA order with a scheduled date and time for your final PFA hearing. At your final PFA hearing, the judge will decide if the temporary order should become permanent. The court will also decide at your hearing whether you will have to pay any fees.
If you are found guilty of abuse, you will probably have to pay the PFA order fees. If you're unable to pay, you must tell the court. Your local county court can arrange a payment plan with installments. To do this, you'll have to show proof of financial hardship. The court will look into your finances and determine what monthly or fixed amount you need to pay.
Many county courts accept credit or debit cards. You may have to pay:
- Court fees or fines, and
- Any other economic relief the judge orders you to pay your accuser.
If you're worried about how you're going to pay these court fees, there are options. Call the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 for a consultation of your case.
Will You Have to Pay a Fee for the PFA Order Against You?
Pennsylvania law may require that you pay the filing and service fees for your PFA. In addition, the judge may require that you pay a $100 fee for “enforcement of domestic violence laws.”
The outcome of your final PFA hearing is critical to what fees you might owe. Your hearing is when the judge will determine whether your PFA will be permanent. If you are found guilty of abuse, you may be on the hook for hundreds of dollars in fees. You will only find out what you might owe after your final PFA hearing has completed.
A strong legal representative is your best bet at protecting your interests in the PFA process. Your defense lawyer can help you avoid getting stuck with the bill.
Can a Pennsylvania PFA Order Make You Pay for Your Family's Health Insurance?
Yes. After your final PFA hearing, the court may direct you to pay financial support to your accuser. This money will go to any family members for whom you have a duty to support. For example, you may have a PFA filed against you by your spouse, but the financial compensation you give your spouse is meant for them and your children as well.
The court may require you to pay for:
- Medical support and child medical support
- Health coverage for your spouse or minor children
- Unreimbursed medical expenses caused by your abuse
- Rent or mortgage payments even if you are evicted from your home
To get financial support, your accuser must file a complaint for support with the court within two weeks of filing for the PFA.
At the final PFA hearing, both parties will have the chance to present their sides of the case. You can expect your accuser to bring evidence of any financial support you've been providing for the family. The judge will use whatever evidence is presented to decide what costs you must pay. This is also your chance to present your evidence.
With so much at stake, you don't want to ignore the consequences of getting a PFA. If you don't appear at your hearing, the judge will issue a default judgment against you. This could include your accuser's request for financial support. If you fail to prepare a defense, you may be responsible for paying much more than you imagined.
Can Your Accuser Have a Lawyer at the Final PFA Hearing?
Yes. Your accuser may bring a lawyer, although it's not required for them to have one. Your accuser might come alone and represent themselves. People who file for PFA petitions also have access to domestic violence counselors who could put them in contact with an attorney. Your accuser may choose a local legal aid lawyer or hire their own lawyer.
Don't worry about whether your accuser has an attorney or not. Don't violate your PFA by calling your accuser to find out. You should worry about your own defense and hire a lawyer whether or not your accuser has a lawyer on their side.
It's hard to overstate the long-term effects of a PFA order on your life and career. You must be proactive to defend yourself in this process.
Can a Pennsylvania PFA Order Affect Your Employment?
Yes. Just having a restraining order against you can be enough to cause you to lose your job. This is especially true if your work involves:
- Working with children or other vulnerable populations
- Positions of leadership where character is an important quality
- Professions that require good moral standing
- Government jobs that require clearance
- Professional or state certification or licensing
- Any position that requires a background check
Many industries carry out background checks before extending job offers. Others require yearly background checks for as long as you're employed.
Your work situation may be severely affected if your accuser is your coworker. A temporary or permanent PFA could keep you from coming into the same office as your accuser. You might have to find employment in a whole different industry or city.
Many professional licenses like those for doctors, lawyers, teachers, and nurses have a moral character clause. If you're a member of a professional licensing board, you will most likely have to notify the board of any legal proceedings that may affect your employment qualifications. Depending on the details of your case, you might face professional misconduct charges or even lose your license to practice in your line of work.
If you get a permanent PFA filed against you in Pennsylvania, anyone who does a background check on your name will be able to see it in the public record. This could be a problem for any jobs or school opportunities that you may apply for in the future.
The best way to protect yourself is to get a strong advocate on your side. Joseph D. Lento has spent over a decade fighting for professionals who have been falsely accused of abuse. Call the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 to get started on your defense.
Do PFA Orders Go on Your Public Record in Pennsylvania?
Yes. Your Pennsylvania PFA will become public record in two ways:
- The Pennsylvania Police Database for law enforcement, and
- Most Pennsylvania counties publish their cases on an online database for the public to access, searchable by the names of the parties involved.
You may seal your record if you enter into a consent agreement approved by the court. You may also petition the court to seal your record from public view.
The court may grant the order to seal your record if you prove that you:
- Never violated the terms of your protection order,
- Haven't received any other PFA orders
- Haven't been convicted of domestic violence or an equal offense, and
- At least 10 years have elapsed since the expiration of your last PFA.
If all four of the above requirements are met, the judge may grant your request to seal your record from public view. However, your record will still be accessible by law enforcement and the criminal justice system.
Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 to get started on sealing your PFA record now.
Can Employers See PFA Orders Filed Against You in Pennsylvania?
Yes. If you've ever had a permanent PFA filed against you, it will appear in most background searches. Most employers run initial background checks on new employees that determine whether the company will hire them or not.
A protection or restraining order can be a big mark against you, whether you're applying for a new job or a school. You could be denied the job because of your PFA record. Some employers continue to run regular background checks on their employers. So even if you've been at a company for a while, a new PFA order could put your employment at risk.
Are you concerned that the PFA order filed against you could cost you your job? At Lento Law Firm, we know what you're going through might be unexpected and confusing. A restraining order can cause all sorts of financial and lifestyle changes in your life. The best way to avoid the worst is to prepare your strongest defense from the beginning.
It's better to fight the accusations in the PFA against you before the court passes a final judgment against you. Once a PFA becomes permanent, it's much harder to appeal. You don't want to miss your chance to defend yourself.
Joseph D. Lento has fought for the rights of the wrongly accused for over a decade. Don't let this process ruin your life. Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 today.
Can a Pennsylvania PFA Order Affect Your Military Career?
Yes. If your accuser knows that you work in the military, they can notify the court. This can have devastating consequences for your military career.
If you have a PFA filed against you by a fellow military member, that will come with even more serious consequences for your employment with the military.
Under the Protection Against Abuse Act (PFAA), which covers PFA orders, your accuser has the right to notify the court if you are:
- A licensed firearms dealer,
- Employed by a licensed firearms dealer or manufacturer,
- Employed as a writer, researcher, or technician in the firearms or hunting industry, or
- Required to carry a firearm as a condition of employment.
Most Pennsylvania PFA orders require that the accused relinquish all firearms, ammo, and gun licenses. If working with firearms is a major part of your position in the military, this would make it difficult for you to actually do your job. You may be demoted, transferred, or discharged depending on the severity of the abuse allegations against you.
Can a Pennsylvania PFA Order Affect Your Security Clearance?
Yes. A PFA order can affect your security clearance, depending on what type of clearance you have. If your employment status depends on keeping good moral character, an allegation of abuse will put your qualifications into question. If you're employed at a large company, you may even have an HR representative that handles security clearances issues.
Can a Pennsylvania PFA Order Affect Your Immigration Status?
Yes. If you've been accused of abuse in a PFA order, it may affect your immigration status.
The government can find out about any permanent PFA orders filed against you through a background check. Your immigration officer will be able to look up your court documents and review them. Having a restraining order on your record can hurt your good moral character testimony. Violating a PFA order can get you arrested and sent to jail.
An arrest could further hurt your chances of renewing your visa or getting a green card.
If you're not as familiar with the United States legal system, a local, specialized PFA defense lawyer is your best chance at defending your interest and protecting your life in the U.S.
If you need a translator or interpreter at your final PFA hearing, you need to request that ahead of time for the court to make the proper arrangements.
The Lento Law Firm can help you navigate this situation. You don't have much time and you have a lot on the line. The Lento Law Firm can help you get on the right track. Call our offices at (888) 535-3686 now to get a consultation of your case.
Can a Pennsylvania PFA Order Affect Your Professional License?
Yes. If you get a restraining order filed against you, that could put your licensure in jeopardy. You have to be proactive in protecting your professional career.
The consequences of getting a PFA order are severe. If a judge enters a permanent PFA under your name, that will be on your public record forever. If your job requires a background check or you're a member of a professional licensing board, your conduct is held to a higher moral standard. State bars have professionalism requirements for lawyers. Nursing homes and hospitals don't want to be the subject of disciplinary proceedings if they continue to employ someone with a history of abuse, especially if they deal with children or elderly patients.
If your restraining order is filed against you by a coworker or even a subordinate employee, that can put your employment and professional license into even greater question. The accusation of abuse can quickly turn your life upside down.
A Pennsylvania PFA order in your permanent record could hurt your chances with:
- State bar associations,
- Nursing licensing boards,
- Medical licensing boards, and
- Other professional licensing boards.
You can contact your professional licensing office anonymously for more information. Your best chance at protecting your career is to contact an experienced Pennsylvania PFA defense lawyer. Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 to get started now.