Pennsylvania State Police arrested a West Chester man in March, charging him with contempt of court for violating a protection from abuse order (PFA). According to Patch, there was an active PFA against the man when he was found in the backyard of a domestic property on March 10. Police had been alerted after a figure was spotted in the backyard. Having been charged with contempt of court, the man awaits a hearing.
PFAs can be highly restrictive, barring people from their home and former place of work. However, compliance is not voluntary. If facing false allegations, it is possible to seek legal redress. Indeed it is not uncommon for the court to issue cross-PFAs. However, a dire situation will only be compounded by a PFA violation. As this man will likely discover, Pennsylvania law enforcement takes violations of PFAs very seriously, and violations could lead to further restrictions as well as strict criminal penalties.
What counts as violations of a PFA?
A PFA is a type of restraining order available to victims of domestic abuse in Pennsylvania. They are issued to give protection against a significant other, intimate partner, or family member. As part of A PFA, a judge can order the alleged abuser to be evicted from the domestic residence. If they return to the residence, like the West Chester man arrested on March 10, they could face arrest for contempt of court.
A PFA will likely require an alleged abuser to keep a distance from the victim, their home, and place of work. However, it may also make stipulations relating to child arrangements and finances and impose firearms restrictions.
There are a number of ways in which you might violate a PFA.
- Make contact with the alleged victim
- Go to the alleged victim's home or place of work
- Make contact with children or go to their school, outside of court-permitted arrangements
- Take illicit means to discover the victim's whereabouts
- Refuse to pay court-ordered financial losses
- Purchase or refuse to relinquish firearms against the provisions of your PFA
What penalties can you face for violation?
PFAs are sought and granted through the civil courts. However, as soon as someone is accused of violating a PFA, it becomes a criminal matter.
The police can secure a warrant for arrest and charge the accused with contempt of court. Depending on the incident, police might also make other criminal charges related to the same incident, such as assault or criminal damage. If prosecuted, the accused will go to a hearing, and a judge will rule on whether the PFA was violated and any related charges.
Penalties can include six months in jail and fines up to $1000. However, there may be longer-lasting consequences. The incident could damage your reputation with the court and undermine efforts to establish child custody and visitation rights. It may also prompt the court to issue further orders with even more stringent and long-lasting restrictions.
Are you facing domestic violence-related allegations?
Pennsylvania law enforcement takes allegations of domestic violence allegations very seriously and punishes violations of PFAs harshly. If you face allegations of this nature, you will want a dedicated attorney who can take into account the particular circumstances of your case and plan a route forwards. For effective and compassionate legal representation, contact the Lento Law Firm online or call us on 888-535-3686.