PFA Orders and Shared Vehicles. Who Gets the Car?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Mar 11, 2023 | 0 Comments

Known as restraining orders in other states, in Pennsylvania, a Protect From Abuse Order or a “PFA” Order typically restrains a defendant from contacting protected persons. While PFA orders can be issued by a court for legitimate reasons in situations such as spousal or child abuse, this is not always the case. Sometimes, the party requesting the PFA order may be doing so for vindictive or spiteful reasons as well such as revenge or jealousy. Although the terms of each and every PFA order are independently decided by the court and depend on the facts at issue, it is not uncommon for courts to order that the defendant leave their partner's residence or family home. As PFA orders are often issued on an Ex Parte basis with limited notice, this does not provide a defendant that much time to gather their belongings and leave. This can even become tricker when the couple shares most of their possessions, including their vehicle.

Do Not Take The Car Without Speaking To An Attorney

If a PFA order has been issued ordering you out of your home, you cannot, under any circumstances, simply show up to your home to collect your belongings without first consulting with an attorney. Although this may seem unfair, and you may need your car for very legitimate reasons like traveling to work or school, this does not matter. Even if the car is in your name, you cannot violate the court order by showing up to the home to pick it up. Instead, you should speak with your attorney about first demonstrating that you have the proper right and access to the car, and then you should speak with them about how to legally retrieve the car as well as any other personal belongings.

You May Or May Not Get The Car

Although the car may be in your name, the court may not automatically order that you have the right to use the car. For example, the court may decide that your spouse or partner needs the vehicle to transport kids to and from school, etc. If you have a PFA issued against you and are worried whether you will have access to your car, you should consult with Attorney Lento immediately who can help plead your case to the court.

If the PFA order has not been issued yet, you can ask your attorney to address this issue in court. Oftentimes the court will carve out a specific exception on a PFA order to allow a defendant time to gather their car or belongings. You may need to show proof that the car is yours, and the court may order that law enforcement accompany you to the property. The court can also order that a third party, such as a neutral relative or agency, assist you in picking up your property. Again, this order will likely be very specific and include the exact date and time the pick-up should take place.

Worried About The Cascading Effects Of A PFA? Attorney Joseph D. Lento Can Help

If you are facing a PFA and need help gaining access to your vehicle or gathering your personal belongings, experienced criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Criminal Defense Team can help. Call us today at (888) 535-3686 or contact us today.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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