Receiving a notification that a protection from abuse (PFA) order has been filed against you in Pennsylvania is the beginning of a stressful and difficult process. Unfortunately, if you do not respond appropriately or take the wrong steps in the immediate aftermath of receiving the PFA, it can make life even more difficult in the long run.
What Not to Do After a PFA
Being notified that there is a PFA against you can be shocking. After all, it means that someone is accusing you of domestic violence or being abusive – both serious allegations. Responding impulsively is not only easy, but difficult to avoid. Unfortunately, if you react to a PFA rashly, it can get you into even more trouble.
While there are three different kinds of PFAs – emergency, ex parte, and final orders – they are all types of binding court orders. As a result, violating any one of them is a crime, prosecuted as criminal contempt of a court order. A conviction for violating a PFA can come with up to 6 months of jail time, up to $1,000 in fines, an extension of the PFA, and confiscation of any firearms or weapons you own. Unlike the underlying PFA, a conviction for criminal contempt of a PFA is a crime that will be added to your criminal background.
Not violating the PFA notification, therefore, is crucial. You will need to avoid all contact with the person who filed the PFA. Even reaching out to them and asking why they filed the PFA and what you can do to make things right could violate the terms of the PFA and lead to contempt charges. If you share a house or apartment with the person who filed the PFA, it could also mean finding somewhere to live until everything has been resolved.
What to Do After a PFA
While not contacting the person who filed the PFA is a start, it is not the end. Many PFA orders come with express conditions that you will need to actively satisfy in order to comply with it. Some can prohibit you from obtaining new firearms, or prohibit you from contacting not only the person who filed the PFA, but also their friends, family, relatives, and even your own shared children. Not complying with these provisions can also lead to contempt charges, as well.
Making sure that you comply with the terms of the PFA will only keep things from getting worse, though. To protect your rights and fight against the allegations being thrown at you, you will need an attorney who is dedicated to your defense.
The Best PFA Lawyer in Philadelphia
This is where PFA attorney Joseph D. Lento can help. By representing your rights and interests in court, attorney Lento can vigorously fight for justice on your behalf.
If you have found that there is a PFA against you, call the Lento Law Firm at (215) 535-5353 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and begin your defense against these groundless accusations.