The behavior that culminates in the issuance of a PFA (Protection from Abuse) Order in Pennsylvania is typically criminal in nature. For example, in a recently reported incident, a woman menacingly followed her ex-partner's vehicle around Blair County for five-plus hours while texting the victim to “pull over.” The victim ultimately stopped at the county courthouse and sought a PFA order to stop her behavior. She was subsequently charged with the crimes of stalking and harassment.
Criminal charges and PFA's often go hand in hand. Under Pennsylvania law, any crime is a domestic violence crime when committed against the victim by the victim's:
- Former Spouse
- Partner or former partner
This rule also applies when the victim and the accused share a child together or if they are or were roommates. Although you may be charged with a crime like assault or stalking when accused of the kind of behavior that justifies a PFA order, the PFA order itself is not a criminal conviction.
A PFA Order is a Civil Matter that Can Lead to Criminal Convictions
PFAs are actually administered in civil court and not criminal court. Accordingly, the PFA will appear on your civil court record. Even though a PFA won't go on your criminal record, in many ways, PFA orders will still have significant impacts on your life. Further, violating a PFA order that's been issued against you can lead to criminal charges.
A PFA ordered against you means you can't have contact with your accuser for the duration of the time specified in the order. You may have to give up any weapons you own, move out of your house, and stay away from public spaces that your accuser frequents. You're also prohibited from making contact with your accuser, even if you want to send an apologetic text message or phone call to make amends.
While the PFA order is not a criminal conviction, violating the order can lead to one. If you violate the PFA order against you, your accuser can call the police and have you arrested. At this point, you'll probably be charged with contempt of court, which could result in a thousand-dollar fine and up to six months in jail.
Why You Need A PFA Lawyer
Whether you need a PFA order or you have had a PFA order issued against you, an experienced PFA attorney can help. If you need a PFA, it's important that you get the assistance you need right away and that you move forward in a way that promotes the safety and well-being of your family.
For those who are under the restrictions of a PFA order, you also need to get your life back and act in a way that avoids unnecessary criminal issues associated with a PFA violation. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team at the Lento Law Firm have helped countless clients across Pennsylvania overcome the challenges associated with a PFA, and they can do the same for you. If you need help, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.