Berks County, Pennsylvania is home to more than 415,000 residents, according to the 2016 census. Approximately 150,000 live in a household, and the average persons per household is 2.63, which is almost the same as the nation's average persons per household at 2.64. Sometimes, when people live together, arguments happen, tempers fly, and emotions get confused. During these times, just about anything can happen, even when you don't expect or deserve it: a false accusation made against you.
In Berks County, a person can obtain a restraining order, known as a Protection from Abuse(PFA) order, against another person for claims of abuse. But in many cases, these claims are falsely made when someone gets upset, vengeful, bitter, or whatever the case may be. Neither the claimant nor the recipient of a restraining order may know just how serious an accusation can be, but it is very serious. It can cause irreparable harm. If you have been falsely accused, your only alternative to a sullied reputation is a PFA expungement, and for that to succeed, you need to hire an experienced defense lawyer.
For the purpose of this article, we will identify: (1) the meaning and purpose of a PFA in Berks County, Pennsylvania; and (2) the qualifications necessary to have a PFA expunged.
Berks County, PA: The Meaning & Purpose of a Protection from Abuse Order
A PFA is a civil order of the court, and its purpose is for the protection of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. It is not intended to be used as a weapon against an innocent person, but that happens. In some cases, the petitioner will withdraw the order because he or she has had time to calm down and realized the harm this order can cause. Other times, an innocent person subjected to a PFA order, must defend himself.
Who can be the recipient of a PFA order?
A PFA order can be filed against any family member or an intimate partner:
- Spouses or ex-spouses
- Persons who have lived as spouses
- Domestic partners
- Same sex couples
- Siblings, either by blood or marriage
- Current or former sexual or intimate partners, e.g., someone you date(d).
What does the petitioner have to prove?
During the PFA hearing, the alleged victim must prove that you committed one or more of the following acts:
- Physical abuse;
- Sexual abuse;
- Stalking; or
- False imprisonment.
A permanent PFA order will be issued if the court believes the evidence shows abuse. This order can last up to three years. All PFA orders become part of the court's public record.
Consequences of a PFA Public Record
If you are innocent, a court record of a PFA order against you -- even if it was an emergency or temporary order -- can have real consequences, such as but not limited to the following:
- Removal from your residence
- Loss of Second Amendment rights
- Job application rejections
- Job termination
- A sullied reputation.
The stakes are high, and though you may not believe it initially, if someone searches your record, even an emergency PFA order will appear.
Berks County, PA: Expungement of a PFA
There are only two circumstances under which an expungement of a PFA is permitted by court, and these are: (1) the petition for a PFA is dismissed; or (2) a permanent PFA was never issued. If a PFA was issued against you, expungement is not an option, and that's why it is so important that you contact an experienced PFA expungement lawyer as soon as you become aware of a PFA order against you. If it is a temporary order, you only have five to ten days from the date it was issued to hire an attorney and prepare for your case.
Berks County PFA Expungement Attorney
If you have been falsely accused of abuse and have a temporary PFA order against you, you need experienced legal representation. Joseph D. Lento, reputable criminal defense lawyer, represents clients who have had temporary PFA orders filed against them, and have helped them get their records expunged. Joseph D. Lento will do all it takes to prevent a permanent PFA order to be filed against you. It's a matter of reputation, career, and your quality of life. Contact him today for a consultation.