If you are being abused by a family member in Pennsylvania, it is important to remember that there is still hope. No matter how much your abuser tries to take away your dignity and convince you that nothing can be done, you will always have rights in the eyes of the law. Enforcing those rights, though, takes a big step. Once you have taken that step and filed a protection from abuse (PFA) order, your abuser will be severely limited in what they can do, giving you the freedom and the peace of mind that you need and deserve.
Domestic Violence Laws in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania takes domestic violence and family abuse seriously because of the amount of emotional and psychological damage it can wreak on all of those involved, especially children. To help victims of domestic violence and to deter people from committing it, the laws of Pennsylvania allow domestic violence victims to apply for legal protection against their abuser. Similar to a restraining order, PFAs prevent your abuser from getting close to you without facing serious legal repercussions. Even better, PFAs can be quick and easy to obtain if you need protection immediately.
Protection From Abuse Orders
There are three different kinds of PFA orders that you can get in Pennsylvania to protect you from someone.
Emergency PFA Orders
Emergency PFAs are for the worst kinds of domestic abuse. They can be issued by a magisterial district judge who is on-call, providing almost instantaneous protection from abuse. All you have to do is explain why you are in need of a PFA, showing that you are in immediate and present danger of abuse and need legal intervention. There is no hearing, and your abuser is not allowed to give a statement in defense.
Once obtained, emergency PFAs last overnight, expiring on the following business day.
Ex Parte Temporary PFA Orders
More lasting protections than an overnight emergency PFA can be had through an ex parte temporary PFA order. These require you to go to a hearing and convince a judge, by a preponderance of the evidence, that either you or your minor children are in immediate and present danger of abuse. If successful, the judge will issue a temporary PFA order and schedule a more formal hearing within 10 days.
Final PFA Orders
Final PFA orders are protection orders that last up to three years but require a full hearing at which your abuser can present evidence in their own defense. However, the lasting protections that a final PFA provides can give you the time, space, and solace to recover from the trauma you have already been through.
Philadelphia PFA Lawyer
While the PFA process is meant to be quick and offer the protection you need, it can be helpful to have an attorney at your side to make sure it works. Call PFA attorney Joseph D. Lento at the Philadelphia Lento Law Office at (215) 535-5353 or contact him online for the legal help you need at this trying time in your life.