Counts in Pennsylvania processed more than 39,000 orders for protection from abuse (PFA) in 2017. More than 30% of these temporary orders were converted to permanent (final) orders after a hearing. These are civil actions that are implemented to protect victims of abuse. The victim may petition for a PFA when the abuse is caused by a family member or resident of their household. This also applies to those that the victim has had a child with or been involved in an intimate relationship with.
In 2018, Lebanon County processed about 351 new PFAs. The Family Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Lebanon County is responsible for handling PFA petitions. When the court is closed (after hours) victims are advised to contact their local police department. The agencies can contact a judge that may implement an emergency order of protection.
Statutory Definitions of Abuse in Pennsylvania
There are a host of actions that are considered abuse as follows:
- Attempting to or committing an act that leads to bodily harm, non-consensual sexual intercourse, assault, rape, or incest
- It is considered to be abuse when someone is placed in a position where they have a “reasonable fear” of bodily injury
- Falsely imprisoning a victim
- Abusing a minor in a physical or sexual manner
- Acts of stalking or harassment that create fear of harm
Once a temporary order is implemented, the alleged abuser will be formally served with the petition. The law requires that a hearing be held in court within 10 business days. During these hearings, there may be a witness testimony with evidence presented and more.
Potentially Adverse Consequences for Alleged Abusers
Those who are served with a temporary PFA order are strongly encouraged to contact a defense attorney with experience in this realm. Your attorney will ensure that you are better prepared for your upcoming hearing and protect your legal rights. The evidentiary standard for proving these allegations of abuse is merely by the preponderance of the evidence.
Once a permanent PFA order is established, the defendant may be prohibited from returning to their residence. Those with minor children are subject to the court's ruling regarding child custody and visitation. Employers and any state agency that is responsible for professional licensing are likely to see that a PFA exists when conducting a background check.
The courts may order that financial compensation be paid to account for losses that relate to abuse. The conditions of a PFA may prevent the accused from owning or possessing a firearm. A PFA order has the potential of having criminal ramifications if the provisions are violated. If proven, charges of contempt can result in jail time, fines, and other penalties.
Attorney Defends Those Accused of Abuse in Lebanon County
With so many potential consequences, those facing allegations of abuse should promptly consult with a lawyer. Often many of these potentially harsh conditions can be minimized and a favorable outcome achieved. Contact the office of Attorney Joseph D. Lento today for a consultation at (888) 535-3686.