Bucks County, Pennsylvania is home to more than 626,000 residents, according to the 2016 census. The majority of the population (86%) is white whose median income is almost $80,000, the latter of which is well above the nation's median income, which--in 2016--was set at $55,617. The populations also tends to be well-educated with nearly 94% possessing a high school diploma and almost 40% earning a Bachelor's degree or higher degree. Though Bucks County leans more to the affluent side of an economic spectrum, it still experiences its share of crime, accompanying the latter, false claims of wrongdoing.
Emotions can bond, but they can also destroy. If you are in a family or other intimate relationship, then you likely know exactly what this means. For those persons you love, you will do anything for them. But for those family members or intimate partners who you have upset, regardless if it was your fault or not, you may have experienced their wrath. Though this kind of situation is never fun, it can sometimes be damaging, especially if their wrath materializes as a false claim of abuse against you.
You should know, a false claim of abuse can lead to a Protection from Abuse (PFA) order, also known as a restraining order. Though PFA orders were meant to protect real victims, it is sometimes used as a weapon to hurt the reputation of an ex-husband, ex-boyfriend, ex-girlfriend, or bitter sister or brother, or whatever the case may be. PFA orders have serious consequences, even if it is eventually revealed that you are not guilty of any abuse. Your only means to help correct any damage done to you is: PFA expungement.
For the purpose of this article, we will identify: (1) the meaning and purpose of a PFA in Bucks County, Pennsylvania; and (2) the qualifications necessary to have a PFA expunged.
Bucks County, PA: The Meaning & Purpose of a Protection from Abuse Order
A PFA is a civil action governed by the Pennsylvania Protection from Abuse Act, 23 PA.C.S.A. §§ 6101-61119, as amended. Upon an allegation and showing of abuse, a PFA order can be obtained against any of the following:
- Spouses, or persons living as spouses, regardless if living together now or in the pas
- Parents, children and other relatives by blood or marriage, including siblings who share biological parent(s)
- Current or former sexual or intimate heterosexual or homosexual partners.
Eligibility for a PFA order requires that (1) the alleged perpetrator qualifies under one of the above-mentioned relationship categories; and (2) the alleged victim show he or she experienced one of the following:
- physical abuse;
- sexual abuse;
- real fear of serious physical abuse because of menace or threats; or
- was knowingly restrained, i.e., was kept against his or her will with no safe means to escape.
Three Types of PFA Orders
- Full Order. A full order can endure up to three years. It is issued by a judge at a hearing at the Court of Common Pleas in Doylestown.
- Temporary Order. A temporary order is entered by the court to provide protection between the time the petition was filed and the court hearing. Court hearings for PFAs are usually held five to ten days after the petition is filed, at which time a full order may be granted.
- Emergency Order. An emergency order is issued by a magisterial district judge if there is a true emergency and the Court of Common Pleas is closed. An emergency order expires the next business day, at which time it can be replaced by a temporary order.
Consequences of False Accusations
The purpose of the PFA, as already noted, is the protection of real victims of abuse. But far more than one might suspect, PFAs are used inappropriately, and innocent people are affected by it. Some common and unfortunate consequences include:
- Loss of Second Amendment rights
- Payment for out-of-pocket expenses the alleged victim claims due to the alleged abuse
- Public court record of a PFA order.
The last of these consequences can prove to be the most harmful.
Bucks County, PA: Expungement of a PFA
In Bucks County as elsewhere throughout Pennsylvania, according to Carlacci v. Mazaleski, you can have a PFA expunged in only two situations:
- The petition for a PFA is dismissed; or
- The proceedings never go to a hearing where a temporary order could be replaced by a permanent order.
To date, you cannot expunge a permanent PFA order. In the Commonwealth v. Charnik, the defendant had a permanent order against him, and the court found that because (1) there was a hearing on the evidence; and (2) it was subsequently determined by the court that the PFA was appropriate, an expunction was not allowed. This case serves as precedent. Thus, if you have been falsely accused of abuse and have a temporary PFA against you, you need to contact an experienced PFA Expungement attorney in Pennsylvania today. The sooner you do, the sooner he can build a case on your behalf and defend your rights.
Bucks 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 immediately. The courts already lean heavily on the side of the alleged victim, so you need someone who will advocate aggressively yet compassionately on your behalf. Joseph D. Lento represents clients of all backgrounds who find themselves in unfortunate circumstances and who need an attorney who will fight for them. Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today for a consultation.