PFAs and Chiropractors

If you're a licensed chiropractor in Pennsylvania, being served with a Protection from Abuse Order (PFA) can upend your world in many ways, even if you're being falsely accused of abuse. You could be prohibited from communicating with your spouse or significant other, forced out of your house, required to alter your routine, and even lose custody rights if you have children with your accuser. And unfortunately, if the Pennsylvania State Board of Chiropractic gets notified of the PFA's existence, it could even potentially trigger an investigation against you, putting your chiropractor's license in jeopardy.

For these reasons, if a PFA has been issued against you, the more proactive you can be in fighting it, the less likely it will impact your career. Hiring an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney like Joseph D. Lento can greatly improve your chances for a favorable outcome. If you're a chiropractor dealing with a PFA, the following key information will help you understand what's at stake and what you need to do next.

Understanding How PFAs Work in Pennsylvania

A Protection from Abuse Order (PFA) is a civil court order that provides legal protection for domestic violence victims against their abusers. The person requesting protection is the petitioner (or plaintiff), and the accused is the respondent (or defendant). A petitioner can be a spouse, ex-spouse, co-habitant, current or former dating partner, live-in relative, etc.

When a PFA is issued against you, you are legally barred from contact with the petitioner while the PFA is in effect. Violating the PFA is a crime punishable by up to 6 months in jail. Unlike criminal charges, which require proof "beyond a reasonable doubt" that you committed a crime, the burden of proof for PFAs is actually quite low. In fact, you don't even have to be charged with a crime to have a PFA against you; the petitioner only needs to convince a judge that you pose a legitimate and immediate threat to them.

A request for a temporary PFA is the first step in obtaining legal protection. If granted by the court, it takes effect immediately without the defendant's involvement. The temporary PFA is in effect for a maximum of ten working days, pending a hearing to determine whether to finalize it. You will be notified of this hearing when you are served with the temporary PFA. At the final hearing, you may have legal representation, present evidence, and call witnesses to contest the PFA and demonstrate how the allegations against you are unfounded and/or the PFA is unnecessary. The judge will then decide whether to dismiss the temporary PFA, allow it to expire, or convert it to a final PFA lasting a maximum of 3 years.

If Someone Runs a Criminal Background Check on Me, Will the PFA Show Up?

Thankfully, no. Criminal background checks only show criminal convictions, and a PFA is a civil action, not a criminal matter. However, if you are convicted of criminal contempt for violating a PFA, that conviction will show up in a background check. You should also be advised that the PFA will show up in court records even after the PFA expires, and these records are typically available upon request. So, while a public record of your PFA won't be easily discovered, anyone who is looking for this type of information could find it.

How a PFA Could Jeopardize Your Chiropractor's License

The existence of a PFA against you could potentially impact your ability to practice as a chiropractor in Pennsylvania. The State Board of Chiropractic holds its licensees to high standards of professionalism and ethics, and it may impose disciplinary action when it believes a person has violated the public trust or committed a crime of moral turpitude. Even if you're never formally charged with a crime, the PFA still suggests that someone saw you as a threat—and that the court at some point agreed. Thus, a PFA could trigger an investigation that, at worst, could result in you losing your license to practice.

Here are a few ways that the State Board of Chiropractic could become aware of a PFA against you:

  • A formal complaint may be filed against you by anybody who is aware of the PFA, including a client, coworker, or other individual
  • If you are found guilty of criminal contempt for violating the PFA, the court may notify the licensing board
  • The licensing board may access court records as part of a separate investigation, and they could discover the PFA that way

Steps to Protect your Chiropractor's License if Served with a PFA

Your best option for keeping a PFA from raising issues with the Board of Chiropractic is to fight the PFA with the assistance of a skilled lawyer. Here are some practical ways to minimize the threat:

  • You can contest the temporary PFA during the final PFA hearing. If you can convince the judge not to issue a final PFA, the chances are greatly reduced that it will trigger any action from the board.
  • Petition to have your temporary PFA removed from court records. While final PFAs will remain permanently in court records even after they expire, you can petition the court to remove a temporary PFA from the record if it was dismissed or withdrawn. Removing this mention of the PFA gives you an added layer of protection.
  • Appeal the final PFA. If your PFA is finalized, you can still file a Motion to Reconsider within ten days or appeal your case to the Pennsylvania Superior Court within 30 days. If your appeal succeeds and the PFA is vacated, it reduces the chance that the PFA will raise red flags with the board.

What to Do if the Licensing Board Takes Action

If the Board of Chiropractic does launch an investigation over a PFA, hiring an attorney who is experienced in defending professional licenses can greatly improve your chances for a favorable outcome by presenting evidence and arguments to demonstrate that the PFA was unfounded and/or has no bearing on your ability to practice. In many cases, this intervention can prevent you from losing your license and minimize any other disciplinary consequences. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has successfully helped many Pennsylvanians with PFA issues, and he has additional experience in professional license defense. If you're a chiropractor served with a PFA, call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 to see how we can help.

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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.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.

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