Being on the receiving end of a protective order sparks feelings of anger, helplessness, and resentment. While these are normal emotions, they can quickly spiral out of control and lead to criminal charges if a defendant isn't careful. For one Littlestown, PA resident, news of a protective order was enough to push him off the edge and threaten the lives of multiple people.
The 33-year-old defendant, Steven M. Downs, threatened arson as a response to the PFA and violated it multiple times by contacting the victim over days.
The police report indicates that Downs threatened to blow up a woman's home and make it a “living hell” for her and its other residents. The woman also showed police a Facebook messenger exchange between her and Downs and numerous phone calls despite the order's terms.
Downs was already facing a hearing for a minor's alleged sexual abuse while staying with the child's family. Due to COVID-19, there were delays to his initial court hearing date. While this case may seem extreme, hundreds of defendants breach their PFA's terms, despite the risk of additional penalties, arrest without bail, and even jail time.
Violating a Protective Order
Although protective orders serve the same purpose, the terms of each are different, and so is their timeframe. Unless a judge rejects the petition or the filer withdraws it before a hearing, it is usually effective in sheltering a person from physical and psychological abuse. Some PFAs (such as a one-way order) affect only the defendant in the sense that even if the filer initiates contact, the defendant cannot respond. A mutual stay-away order requires that both parties cease contact.
Never attempt to violate a protective order, especially by threatening a victim and exposing yourself to additional charges. The courts prioritize a filer's safety, even if the defendant may be innocent or allegations against them are misleading. Besides facing a charge of indirect criminal contempt of the court, you also face a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment for up to six months, and supervised probation.
When you have Pending Criminal Charges
If you have pending criminal charges and receive a PFA, it complicates your existing case. When you testify in a PFA trial, your statements leave you criminally exposed. That's when the other party's attorneys can use your words to bolster their case. Although it's not impossible to fight against these charges, you need a confrontational and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney for the best possible outcome. Without the right legal support, you risk losing your family, your property, and your reputation.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento works with defendants of PFA violations and other criminal charges using a calculated and strategic approach. Whether you have multiple pending cases or just one, attorney Lento boosts your chances of a fair outcome by helping you navigate the legal process effectively.
When allegations against you can potentially ruin your life, only the best defense strategy will do. You never have to face these allegations alone, especially when so much is at stake. Call the Lento Law Firm today for a discreet consultation at 888-535-3686.