When a person faces domestic violence charges, they may suffer consequences across several areas of the law. Domestic violence charges can affect a person's status with their employment, their ability to remain in their place of living, and may even have effects that carry over into family law. Another means for a person to suffer negative effects from an alleged domestic violence incident is through a PFA order. PFA orders can potentially affect already standing custody arrangements.
PFA Orders in Pennsylvania
A PFA order is a court order that is commonly issued in instances where there is alleged domestic violence taking place. PFA stands for protection from abuse. These court orders often restrict contact between the person who filed them, the plaintiff, and the opposing party, the defendant. Violating a PFA can be considered a crime. When a plaintiff wishes to file a PFA, they may do so in a number of ways. The first of which is known as an "emergency" PFA order. As the name suggests, these are filed in an emergency. A plaintiff will contact an on call judge, who will draft and sign a PFA to last for a temporary time period. These are filed without the defendant's input or knowledge, in most cases. Similarly, a plaintiff may file an "ex parte" PFA order. These are also filed without any input from the defendant, however, the plaintiff must proceed to the courthouse in order to do so.
Regardless of how the plaintiff proceeds, both emergency and ex parte PFA orders are temporary. The defendant in these cases will be notified that there is an order against them, and the matter will proceed to a hearing in front of a judge. Defendants must attend this hearing in order to support their side of the case. Defendants can bring with them supporting arguments and evidence in order to defend their case. Once all evidence and arguments have been heard, the judge will make a decision on the final PFA order, and its terms. Even if a defendant has a PFA finalized against them, their input to the case will be considered by the judge when the judge is determining what the terms of the PFA will be.
Can a PFA Order Affect my Child Custody Rights?
When a person has a PFA order filed against them, there are typically several terms involved. These terms dictate the rules that a defendant must follow while the PFA is active. Sometimes, a judge may set terms that affect a person's custody rights over their child. These terms can be set whether or not a standing custody order is in place. This may mean re-negotiating custody in family court as well.
Pennsylvania Defense Attorney
PFA orders can complicate a person's life considerably. Between negotiating any associated criminal charges, trying to maintain one's career, and dealing with any consequences that may affect a person's family life, a PFA can be a complicated matter. An experienced attorney can help a defendant deal with both the criminal aspect and PFA negotiation aspects of a case. Attorney Joseph Lento is a lawyer with experience in both criminal law and family law and can help your situation.