There's nothing funny about Protection from Abuse (PFA) orders. Being served a PFA is a warning notice that your future actions will be scrutinized under a microscope. Any wrong move you make will be magnified. Suddenly, normal behavior can bring criminal charges. An innocuous phone call to your children or entering your own home can lead to jail time.
It should go without saying, but you should also avoid playing any kind of prank on your accuser — such as the one described in this story from southwestern Pennsylvania, where the “comedic” actions of an estranged husband ended in his arrest. The man, James Klutch, stole his wife's underwear and scattered them throughout the town in a retaliatory prank after she filed a PFA order against him.
Is It Really a Big Deal?
The act of “pranking,” while immature, is not usually a criminal activity. After receiving a PFA, your future might seem as though it's out of your control. It can be scary and frustrating, and it may be hard to find an appropriate avenue to express your feelings. Lashing out with a prank may appear like a good way to blow off steam without resorting to violence.
That's just not how it works. Even if a PFA order doesn't specifically list “scattering your wife's underwear” as off-limits, that doesn't mean that you'll face no consequences for doing it. Trying to find creative ways around a PFA will do nothing to endear you to the judge at your hearing or the officers enforcing the order. You will still be arrested and will likely face criminal charges.
How to Resolve a PFA Without Criminal Charges
Every person that receives a PFA should do two things. One, you must follow the order's instructions meticulously. Honor the spirit of the order, not just the specifics. Don't attempt to walk the line between legality and violation — more often than not, you will fail. The other thing you should do is contact an attorney who is well-versed in the laws surrounding PFA orders. Within ten days of being served, you are entitled to a hearing where you will be able to give your side of the story. Having a lawyer will ensure you formulate the best possible way to resolve your case.
You should also avoid any behavior that could lead you to impropriety. When the authorities arrested James Klutch, he was drunk. Without the influence of alcohol, he may have second-guessed his instincts to play a prank on his accuser. The consequences of PFA violations can change your life. Don't risk your future by drinking heavily or consuming substances that will take you out of your right state of mind.
Retain a Specialized PFA Lawyer
Dealing with PFA orders can be a lonely endeavor. There is no substitute for having an experienced advocate in your corner.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped hundreds of clients navigate the unforgiving legal realities of PFA orders. Contact the Lento Law Firm online or by calling 888-535-3686.