PFAs and Retaliation Don’t Mix: An Example of What You Should NOT Do to Defend Your Rights

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Mar 23, 2021 | 0 Comments

When someone accuses you of abuse, it's natural to feel scared about the potential consequences of those claims on your reputation, livelihood, and freedom. Sometimes those fears can morph into a desire for revenge because the allegations aren't true. No matter how you feel, though, you don't want that desire to take you down the wrong path. Retaliatory actions have the potential to land you in even more hot water than the current allegations against you, as noted in this article about the case against Riley J. Williams.

United States v. Riley J. Williams

On January 21, 2021, the court released Riley J. Williams into her mother's custody, pending the outcome of her federal criminal case. Ms. Williams is charged with violent entry, disorderly conduct, knowing entering or remaining in restricted buildings or grounds, aiding and abetting in the theft of U.S. government property, and obstructing official proceedings for her alleged participation in the Capitol Insurrection and for stealing Speaker Nancy Pelosi's laptop earlier this year.

Though there appears to be video evidence of Ms. Williams at the Capitol that day, her defense attorney suggests that there is reason to call some of the government's evidence into question. She alleges that a tip related to Ms. William's charges for the theft of Speaker Pelosi's laptop comes from the defendant's abusive ex-boyfriend who provided the information in retaliation against a protection from abuse (“PFA”) order the defendant had against him. Her attorney further suggests that the defendant had to change her phone number to protect herself from her boyfriend's harassment, not to elude authorities as the government claims.

What Is A PFA?

A PFA is a type of restraining order available to victims of domestic abuse in Pennsylvania. To be eligible for a PFA, petitioners must be seeking protection from a significant other, intimate partner, or family member. Judges can issue PFAs to:

  • Stop an abuser from contacting you or your children,
  • Prevent an abuser from harassing you or your children at home, work, or school,
  • Remove an abuser from the home,
  • Prevent the purchase of firearms or relinquish any firearm licenses,
  • Establish custody or visitation rights,
  • Order an abuser to pay financial losses, or
  • Keep your address and whereabouts confidential.

PFAs and Retaliation

It's not uncommon for the court to issue cross-PFAs depending on the nature of the interactions between the parties. However, things cross the line into retaliation if the parties lie about one another, make things up to get criminal charges filed, or find other means to discredit the other party. These retaliatory actions can lead to the loss of a job, business, or school opportunities and can even impact custody decisions. They also can serve to undermine your credibility with the court when it is time to defend yourself at a PFA hearing or trial.

What To Do If You Are Facing A PFA

While it is still unclear whether Ms. Williams' ex-boyfriend's offered his tip in retaliation, her case demonstrates that the consequences of legal revenge can be broad and far-reaching. So it is best to avoid the allure of vengeance altogether. Instead, rely on sound strategy and an experienced legal representation to help you defend yourself against a pending PFA.

If this is you, attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm can help. Attorney Lento will work tirelessly to ensure that your rights and your reputation are protected. Call 888-535-3686 to schedule a private and confidential consultation to discuss your case 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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