In May, a man from Dubois, Pennsylvania, faced stalking, disorderly conduct, and harassment charges after allegedly threatening to kill his spouse the day after an emergency PFA expired. Kevin Kear reportedly pulled into a gym parking lot, got into the car with his wife, and made a remark about “how quickly he could kill her.” Although the emergency PFA expired and his wife hadn't made an appointment to request a new one, Kear was in custody at Clearfield County prison on $50,000 bail.
About Emergency PFAs
An emergency PFA (Protection from Abuse Order) is a protection order (also called a restraining order or no contact order) signed by an on-call judge on an emergency basis when the regular courts are closed (such as on a weekend, late night, or holiday). An emergency PFA prohibits a family member or ex-partner from contacting an individual if the judge determines that the requesting individual is in immediate danger of abuse. Unlike other protection orders, emergency PFAs only last until the next business day. If you have an emergency PFA issued against you and are found in violation of the court-issued order, you face serious legal consequences, including criminal charges and prison time.
How Emergency PFAs Work
The Kear case from Dubois shows that emergency PFAs can't be disregarded as soon as they expire. In Pennsylvania, Kear is in prison, facing serious charges (stalking, harassment, disorderly conduct), even though the emergency PFA issued against him expired the day before he contacted his spouse and even though his spouse hadn't yet requested a new protection order. In other words, emergency protection from abuse orders are not timeouts that lose all legal effect the moment they expire.
Your Protection From Abuse Order Records Are Easily Obtained by Others
In Pennsylvania, PFAs are not a true public record in the sense that anyone can search and find them online. However, PFA records can be requested from the applicable court by any member of the public with a reasonable basis, and in almost all instances, PFA records will be provided to the person or entity requesting them. Just about anybody (colleges, employers, and housing offices, to name a few) can find out whether you have current or previous PFAs issued against you and whether you have violated any such protection orders.
Harsh Punishments for Pennsylvanians Accused of Violating PFAs
Pursuant to Pennsylvania's Protection from Abuse Act, alleged PFA violators may be arrested, have weapons and ammunition seized, and face criminal contempt charges. A contempt conviction can result in a $1,000 fine and six months of jail time. Given the significant impact that PFAs have on family life, education, career, and housing opportunities, Pennsylvanians with PFAs issued against them should take such protective orders seriously.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento Specializes in PFAs and Criminal Defense in Pennsylvania
If you or your loved one is a party to a protective order and have questions about what activities the PFA prohibits and for how long, contact the Lento Law Firm online or at 888-535-3686. With a focus on criminal defense and domestic violence issues spanning many years, Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm team is committed to zealously representing criminal defendants accused of violating PFAs in Pennsylvania.