One of the most common elements in any domestic violence case is the filing of a protection from abuse order, or as it more commonly known, a PFA. These are court orders that place certain terms on a person who is accused of acts of domestic violence. In Chester County, a PFA order is filed within the chambers of the family division in the Chester County Court of Common Pleas. While a PFA is a matter of family law, these orders often have criminal consequences. It is best to defend against these circumstances before they can heavily impact a person's quality of life.
PFA Defense in Chester County
When a person wishes to file a PFA, they will be known as the "plaintiff" in any court actions. The person who is accused of domestic violence will be referred to as the defendant. While a majority of the time, a person may file during regular court hours for a PFA, a plaintiff may sometimes elect to file an "ex parte" PFA order. These are granted by a judge in situations deemed emergencies, as they are filed without the defendant being present. The defendant is then notified through mail or a court summons. An ex parte PFA order is temporary and will stand until a hearing for a final PFA. The terms of this are often based on what the judge initially heard at
PFA Hearings in Chester County
Under normal circumstances, the defendant and plaintiff will be present for a preliminary PFA hearing. these hearings are held with the intent of granting both parties an opportunity to speak before deciding whether or not a temporary PFA will be placed on the defendant. These hearings are held by either a court master or a judge and will be more informal in nature, while still maintaining enough decorum to allow both parties to present their side of the story. Following this, a decision will be made on whether or not to implement a temporary PFA, and date will be set for a final PFA hearing.
At a final PFA hearing, the procedure will be much more formal, and the matter will be determined by the hand of a judge. First, the plaintiff will present their case, and will then be subject to a brief cross-examination for follow up. After this, the defendant can present their supporting case, and will also be questioned by the plaintiff. Following this, the parties will have a chance to make final rebuttals, and the judge will close the hearing and make a decision.
It is important to bolster a solid defense at these hearings, as even if a judge decides to render a final PFA, the defendant's reasoning will have an impact on the terms. A strongly defended PFA will have much more favorable terms than one with a flimsy defense.
If you or a loved one is facing a PFA order, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.