In Pennsylvania in 2017, there were more than 39,000 new orders for protection from abuse (PFA) put in place. Roughly 13,500 of these temporary orders became final orders of protection after a court hearing. These are court orders that require an alleged abuser to have no further contact with their alleged victim(s).
Carbon County processed approximately 473 PFAs in 2018. When the court is open, those seeking a PFA in Carbon County may visit the Prothonotary Office on the first floor of the Carbon County Courthouse. During the hours when the court is closed, those seeking to file a PFA should contact their local police department.
What is Considered Abuse?
State statute defines abuse as certain acts that involve members of a household or family. These acts may also occur between individuals who have or have had a sexual or intimate relationship or a child with. Those who are family or household members may include people such as current or former spouses, parents, children, and other relatives.
Abuse may involve an intentional attempt to or an act that does lead to some bodily harm, rape, involuntary sexual intercourse, sexual assault, indecent assault, or incest. Acts of abuse may involve the creation of fear that bodily harm will occur. It also may be an act that falsely imprisons someone or physically or sexually abuses a minor child.
Obtaining a Temporary PFA
A temporary PFA is an initial order of protection made by a judge that is intended to stop any form of abusive activity. They may be established when there are allegations of abuse that may lead to “present danger.” The court will then ensure that the alleged abuser is served with the temporary order. All parties are notified that a hearing will be held within 10 business days.
At the subsequent hearing, the petitioner must prove their allegations by a preponderance of the evidence. During the hearing, the parties have a right to legal counsel, may submit evidence, and hear witness testimony. Based on the findings, the court may choose to implement a final PFA order or not.
These protective orders may include any of the following provisions:
- That the alleged abuser (defendant) halt any abuse
- A party may be granted possession of a residence or evicted from a residence
- Orders of child custody and/or requirements that financial support be made for the benefit of other parties
- Those that pertain to parental visitation rights
- Prohibiting contact between the parties and prohibiting the defendant from “stalking or harassing the plaintiff”
- The defendant may be prohibited from visiting the victim's residence, school, or place of employment
- That a party be prohibited from acquiring or possessing a firearm or other weapons
- The defendant may be required to compensate the victims for losses that resulted from abuse
A centralized database of these orders is maintained by the Pennsylvania State Police. This registry is maintained in compliance with the Federal National Incident-Based Reporting System, which includes many relevant details.
Importance of Retaining Seasoned Legal Counsel
It is best to promptly retain an experienced criminal defense attorney if served with a PFA order. Your lawyer will ensure that your rights are protected and prepare you for your hearing in court.
Pennsylvania Defense Lawyer for PFA Orders
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has many years of experience in representing clients in the Carbon County courts. He will make sure your rights are protected and strive for a positive outcome. Contact the office today at (888) 535-3686 for a case evaluation.