A person accused of domestic violence can face complications across several aspects of their life and the law. One such complication is a protection from abuse order, or as it is more commonly known, a PFA order. These orders restrict an alleged domestic violent offender's ability to contact the alleged victim and may interfere with their day to day life. In Northampton County, a person may file for a PFA in the family division of the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas. PFAs have several terms and may stretch beyond family law. These orders also place the person who is the subject of the order in danger of criminal prosecution should they try to contact the person who filed against them.
Defenses to PFA Orders in Northampton County
Throughout the PFA process, the person who is the subject of the PFA will be known as the defendant. The person who initiates the filing will be known as the "plaintiff" in these matters. A plaintiff may be able to file a PFA without the defendant's knowledge if they are able to convince a judge that the situation is an emergency. This is known as an "ex parte" PFA order, and the defendant will be notified through an official summons at a later date or will be provided the information by mail.
PFA Hearings in Northampton County
Under normal circumstances, PFA order must undergo a two-step hearing process. The first preliminary PFA hearing is a much less formal process and will be held and decided by either a judge or a specific court master. The plaintiff and defendant may both appear and present their supporting cases. After this meeting, the judge or master will decide whether or not to assign a temporary PFA, which will last until the hearing for a final PFA.
Final PFA hearings are much more formal matters, and much is at stake. Finalized PFA orders can last for years and can cause incredible declines in a defendant's quality of life. At a hearing for a final PFA, the plaintiff will have the opportunity to present their case first. After this, the defendant may conduct a cross-examination. Next, the defendant can present their supporting information, evidence, and arguments, all of which are subject to the cross-examination of the plaintiff. Following this, both parties will be given the chance to make final remarks and rebuttals if necessary. After this, the judge presiding over the hearing will close the hearing, and make a decision the PFA order.
PFA orders can severely impact a defendant's quality of life, along with several other aspects of family law. It is important to defend these hearings. Even if a defendant still has a PFA filed against them, the terms will be much more favorable if they were able to provide a strong defense. If you or a loved one is facing a PFA order, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.