Pennsylvania Protection from Abuse Orders Defense Lawyer

Good Intentions

Pennsylvania's Protection from Abuse Act authorizes the state's civil courts to issue restraining orders to protect against repeated sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking behaviors. Significantly, the Act addresses those dangerous behaviors only among family or household members, sexual or intimate partners, or persons who share biological parenthood. The legislature's laudable goal with the groundbreaking legislation was to protect victims from physical or sexual abuse within households or other intimate relationships, where many of those wrongs occur. Pennsylvanians deserve these protections. Statistics show that about 150 die annually in Pennsylvania related to domestic violence. In the most recent year for which statistics are available, 68 females and 44 males died related to domestic violence, some of them children, while 38 perpetrators also died in the incidents.

Hard Impacts

Housing. Restraining household members from contact with one another is naturally far more disruptive than restraining neighbors, acquaintances, or strangers. For instance, a Protection from Abuse (PFA) order can prevent a person from entering the person's own home. The restrained party may have no other housing in which to rest or sleep, protect oneself from the elements, care for oneself, and store and prepare food. The restrained party may also not be able to afford other housing because of their continuing obligation to pay for the very home the order prohibits them from using. Loss of housing can be one of the very hard impacts of a PFA order.

Personal Effects. A PFA order can also interfere with the restrained party's ability to recover, use, store, and maintain personal items like clothing, vehicles, tools, and equipment. Clothing may be necessary for warmth or work. Tools and equipment may be necessary to earn a living. A PFA order may make it hard or impossible to prepare for work and engage in one's own business. Think of all the valuable, necessary, and helpful things one ordinarily stores in one's home. A PFA order can even prevent the restrained party from seeing and caring for children and other dependents. For the restrained party, a PFA order changes everything. It turns the restrained party's world upside down.

Police Enforcement of PFA Orders

Registry, Policies, and Training. Pennsylvania law ensures that police are ready to enforce PFA orders, including making arrests for their violation. Section 6105 of Pennsylvania's Protection from Abuse Act requires that the Pennsylvania State Police make a statewide registry of PFA orders so that local police may readily find and read orders issued in another county. Local police departments must then train their officers to enforce PFA orders pursuant to policies the local departments must adopt. Police stand ready to enforce PFA orders anywhere within Pennsylvania.

Reporting. When an officer arrests a defendant for violating a PFA order, Section 6105 of the Act requires that the officer notify the plaintiff of the order's violation. Police making an incident report of a PFA order's violation must also enter that report in a national reporting database. Moving from state to state does not automatically avoid detection for having violated a local order. An arrest or report of abuse in one state will likely lead to the detection of reports and arrests in other states. If you face a request for an overbroad PFA order against you, one that you might unintentionally violate because of its unfair breadth, then retain Pennsylvania criminal-defense attorney Joseph Lento to challenge the PFA petition or seek to modify an existing PFA order.

Prosecution Risks

Criminal Contempt. A PFA order can indeed create a serious risk that the restrained party inadvertently or carelessly violates the order, leading to criminal prosecution. Although Pennsylvania's civil courts issue PFA orders, violating a PFA order can lead to a criminal contempt prosecution. The Act's Section 6113 authorizes arrest and jailing on probable cause of an order's violation. A hearing is to follow within ten days. The Act's Section 6114 authorizes criminal contempt charges. A conviction on those charges results in a minimum fine of $300 up to a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to six months in jail.

Impacts of Prosecution. Prosecution can result not only in conviction, incarceration, and fines, but also in a criminal record and loss of job, license, and career. In convicting for criminal contempt, courts need not consider reasons for the violation, even if the reason was the plaintiff's invitation. The defendant's state of mind isn't contempt's criminal element. Violating the PFA order is a contempt crime. If you face a PFA order with which you may be unable to comply, and may inadvertently violate, then retain Pennsylvania criminal-defense attorney Joseph Lento now to help you gain appropriate relief from the order.

Misuse and Abuse

Mistaken Orders. Protection from Abuse orders can also place substantial power in the hands of others, where that power is subject to mistake, misuse, or abuse. All PFA orders are not perfect. Judges have skills in evaluating the credibility of witnesses and the strength of evidence. Yet judges sometimes make mistakes. They sometimes believe witnesses who aren't telling the truth and disbelieve witnesses who are. Helping the judge see and hear the truth is a trial lawyer's skill. When you retain Pennsylvania criminal-defense attorney Joseph Lento, you can expect attorney Lento to both present truth-telling witnesses and cross-examine the other side's witnesses to expose errors and lies.

Manipulation of Orders. Applicants claiming grounds for a PFA order can also have their own agenda outside of protection from abuse. Although doing so violates laws and court rules, parties in divorce and custody proceedings may manipulate a PFA order to secure housing, child custody, personal property, or other interests. The divorcing spouse who wants to stay in the home may falsely claim abuse to get the other spouse out. The parent who wants child custody may falsely claim child abuse to keep the other parent from getting custody. Again, the skills of a trial lawyer expose the bias and interest of testifying witnesses, especially a party claiming extraordinary and summary relief like that a PFA order can provide. If you face a PFA proceeding involving actual or potential misuse or abuse of the Act's powers, then retain Pennsylvania criminal-defense attorney Joseph Lento now to ensure your fair treatment.

Extraordinarily Broad Powers

Pennsylvania's Protection from Abuse Act grants the court the broadest possible powers, stating in its Section 6108, “the court may grant any protection order or approve any consent agreement to bring about a cessation of abuse of the plaintiff or minor children.” The Act's Section 6108 goes on to list these specific examples of relief that the court may include in a PFA order:

  • ordering defendant not to abuse the plaintiff or children;
  • ordering that plaintiff have exclusive possession of housing;
  • evicting defendant from housing;
  • ordering defendant to provide plaintiff other housing;
  • ordering temporary child custody to plaintiff;
  • ordering defendant to support plaintiff and children;
  • ordering defendant to provide health insurance for plaintiff and children;
  • ordering defendant to pay healthcare expenses for plaintiff and children;
  • prohibiting defendant's contact with plaintiff and children;
  • prohibiting defendant from entering plaintiff's workplace;
  • prohibiting defendant from entering children's school;
  • ordering defendant to relinquish firearms; and
  • ordering defendant to pay for plaintiff's counseling or other treatment.

If you face a PFA order that imposes impossible, intolerable, or unfair terms, then retain Pennsylvania criminal-defense attorney Joseph Lento now to address, limit, or appeal those terms.

Invoking PFA Procedures

Given the court's extraordinarily broad powers when deciding a PFA application, the Act provides the defendant with certain procedural protections. Section 6106 requires the plaintiff to file a written petition with the court, and provides a criminal penalty for making a false report. The court then decides the best means by which to serve the defendant with the petition, often by sheriff's delivery. Defendants in PFA proceedings do get notice of the proceeding, although typically after the court issues a temporary order so that notice does not trigger a violent response. If you receive notice that a family or household member seeks a PFA order against you, then retain Pennsylvania criminal-defense attorney Joseph Lento as soon as notified so that attorney Lento can invoke PFA procedures for your benefit.

Ex Parte Orders on PFA Petitions

Under Section 6107, if the plaintiff's petition alleges “immediate and present danger of abuse” to the plaintiff or children, then the court must promptly hear the plaintiff without the defendant having any notice. One-sided hearings of this type, called ex parte hearings, generally result in the plaintiff getting a PFA order if the request qualifies for relief under the Act. Winning is easy and losing hard when no one is present on the other side. If the court finds the plaintiff or children are in immediate and present danger of abuse, then the court may enter an appropriate order. Many PFA proceedings begin with an ex parte temporary order. A temporary order issued on only the plaintiff's story can put the defendant in the worst light before even having been heard. If you receive notice of a temporary PFA order against you, then retain Pennsylvania criminal-defense attorney Joseph Lento as soon as notified so that attorney Lento can help you set the story straight at the full hearing.

Emergency PFA Orders

The courts give priority to a plaintiff's petition for a PFA order whenever the petition asks for a temporary order. A plaintiff filing a petition that requests a temporary order will typically get a prompt hearing that same day, without leaving the court. But sometimes, a person wants or needs an order when the courts are closed. Section 6110 of Pennsylvania's Protection from Abuse Act provides that the courts keep a hearing officer, typically a magisterial district judge, on duty for emergency PFA orders whenever the courts are closed. The plaintiff need only contact the police or call 911, for referral to the on-duty hearing officer. If the plaintiff's petition and any testimony supports a PFA order, showing an immediate and present danger of abuse, then the hearing officer issues that order. Under Section 6110, though, emergency orders last only until the end of the next day of court.

Contested Hearings on PFA Petitions

Under the same Section 6107 that authorizes temporary PFA orders, the court must hold a full hearing with both sides present within ten days of the plaintiff's initial petition to consider a final PFA order. The temporary PFA order may already be in place. Importantly, the defendant may testify, call witnesses, and cross-examine witnesses at the hearing. The hearing is the defendant's first full and fair opportunity to set the record straight. The hearing is the first time that the court hears both sides' evidence. Parties obviously benefit at the hearing from an attorney with trial lawyer skills. Do not attempt to advocate your own cause at a PFA hearing at which you have everything on the line. Retain Pennsylvania criminal-defense attorney Joseph Lento to identify and subpoena witnesses, prepare for and attend the hearing, examine and cross-examine witnesses, and advocate on your behalf.

The Preponderance Burden of Proof

The same Section 6107 states that the court may issue a PFA order if the plaintiff shows the abuse threat by a preponderance of the evidence. The preponderance burden is the lowest proof burden. The plaintiff need only have a little more evidence than the defendant. The plaintiff's evidence must outweigh the defendant's evidence by any amount, even the tiniest amount. By contrast, a prosecutor must ordinarily prove a criminal charge beyond a reasonable doubt. The plaintiff's low proof burden means that the defendant faces the additional risk of an erroneous decision on close evidence. Do not leave your liberty, property, and housing at risk of an erroneous decision. Retain Pennsylvania criminal-defense attorney Joseph Lento to represent you at your PFA hearing. An expert advocate's skills make a difference, especially at a trial-like hearing.

The Risks of Summary Relief

A Decision Within Days. You can see how quickly PFA proceedings can begin and end, all in the span of ten days from commencement to final PFA order. Ten days is a very short time within which to lose access to one's house, personal effects, and children or other dependents, and a good deal of one's liberty. Criminal cases typically take several months to resolve. Other civil cases often take up to a year to resolve. But PFA proceedings may be effectively over within just ten days. Indeed, the court may schedule the full hearing sooner than within ten days, as soon as three days after service of the petition on the defendant. The Act's Section 6107 gives the defendant a minimum of three business days from receiving service, or notice, of the petition to the full hearing.

Aggressive Preparation. Summary relief may protect potential victims, but it also increases the risk of error. Without the usual time to investigate, conduct discovery, and prepare a full trial-like defense, you need expert representation from a defense lawyer who will prepare promptly, thoroughly, and aggressively. You don't have time to waste. With so much on the line, you need your defense lawyer to identify, locate, and prepare witnesses, get appropriate records and documentation, and prepare to examine and cross-examine witnesses and present your defense. Retain Pennsylvania criminal-defense attorney Joseph Lento to represent you at your PFA hearing. An expert advocate's skills make a difference, especially at a trial-like hearing, and even more so when the defendant has so little time to prepare.

Protecting Choices

Nothing Presumed. The plaintiff's preponderance proof burden is admittedly low. Yet Pennsylvania's Protection from Abuse Act otherwise sets a higher bar for a PFA order. The plaintiff typically doesn't get an order simply because of speculation, conjecture, or unreasonable fear that something might in the future happen. Instead, the Act requires the plaintiff to prove a qualifying relationship with the defendant and the defendant's qualifying abusive act, as explained further below. The defendant is, in a manner of speaking, innocent until proven guilty. The Act does not presume abuse. The plaintiff must prove abuse. The Act sets this higher bar, requiring the plaintiff to prove the defendant's abuse, to preserve the defendant's personal and parental rights. It's still America, where we still get to make responsible choices.

Avoiding Unnecessary Orders. Courts have another reason to be cautious about unnecessary PFA orders, beyond the defendant's personal autonomy and interests. Unnecessary and inappropriate PFA orders can also harm the unnecessarily protected child, not just the restricted parent. Don't let an opposing parent in a child-custody dispute, or an over-eager child-welfare reporter, manipulate a good law to produce bad results. Don't let an unnecessary PFA order harm your child or other relationships. Ensure that the court distinguishes your responsible parenting choices from the other side's false allegations of child abuse. Retain Pennsylvania criminal-defense attorney Joseph Lento to help you protect your personal and parental rights from false allegations of abuse.

Contesting a Qualifying Relationship

Household or Intimate Relationships. Pennsylvania's Protection from Abuse Act requires the plaintiff to show that the plaintiff had a qualifying relationship to the defendant and the defendant committed an act of abuse. The Act does not reach all abuse, only abuse between persons having at least one of three or four specific, close relationships. The Act's Section 6102 defines the qualifying relationships to include “family or household members, sexual or intimate partners, or persons who share biological parenthood.” Section 6102 further specifies what constitutes a family or household relationship as “spouses or persons who have been spouses, persons living as spouses or who lived as spouses, parents and children, other persons related by consanguinity or affinity, current or former sexual or intimate partners or persons who share biological parenthood.”

Missing Relationship. The close relationship must, as a factual matter, exist, or the plaintiff may not get a PFA order. Yet, some PFA petitions will falsely allege a qualifying relationship where one did not, in fact, exist. The plaintiff and defendant may not have a spousal relationship, been intimate, or shared parenthood. The court in such a defective case may initially issue a temporary PFA order simply based on the factually inaccurate petition. But the defendant's evidence at the hearing should, in that instance, correct the false allegation and convince the court not to issue the PFA order. Retain Pennsylvania criminal-defense attorney Joseph Lento to contest false allegations of family, household, or intimate relationships.

Contesting a Qualifying Act

Forms of Abuse. Pennsylvania's Protection from Abuse Act also requires the plaintiff to show that the defendant committed one of the Act's specified forms of abuse. Importantly, abuse under the Act is not mental or emotional abuse but rather attempted or actual physical abuse, stalking-like behavior, or in the case of false imprisonment, effective physical restraint. Section 6102 defines abuse to include only the following:

  • attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury, rape, sexual assault, statutory sexual assault, indecent assault, or incest;
  • placing another in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury;
  • false imprisonment;
  • physically or sexually abusing minor children; and
  • following a person, or knowingly engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts, that place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury.

Missing Abuse. The Act's Section 6106 provides that plaintiffs who petition for a PFA order may get the clerical assistance of the court to complete the necessary forms. Yet, many PFA plaintiffs have no legal advice or representation. Some plaintiffs petition for PFA orders alleging only mental, emotional, or verbal abuse that would not qualify for a PFA order. The judge at the plaintiff's ex parte hearing should refuse an order on a petition that fails to allege qualifying physical abuse, stalking, or false imprisonment, and instead only alleges mental or emotional abuse. In some cases, though, the plaintiff will falsely allege physical abuse or similar qualifying acts, when in fact, only mental or emotional exchanges took place. A full hearing, with the defendant having the skilled representation of Pennsylvania criminal-defense attorney Joseph Lento, reveals such false allegations.

Facial Sufficiency of PFA Petitions

The Protection from Abuse Act authorizes courts to protect the abused. But the Act also requires courts to follow procedures ensuring that only legitimate petitions result in PFA orders. The judge first reviewing a PFA petition in an ex parte hearing, without the defendant present, will generally accept the plaintiff's unchallenged testimony. Even so, plaintiffs may misunderstand the law's requirements for a qualifying relationship and Act. Even if the plaintiff's petition alleges a qualifying relationship and Act, the plaintiff may admit when testifying under oath at an ex parte hearing that the relationship or act did not in fact exist. The defendant may not be present to challenge the petition, but judges tend to follow the law and not issue a PFA order without credible evidence of a qualifying relationship and act.

Departure and Nonresidence

Section 6103 of the Act anticipates that the plaintiff seeking a PFA order may already have moved out of the home to which the plaintiff wishes to return. Section 6103 requires the court to ignore the fact that the plaintiff fled the home to avoid abuse, when the court determines whether to return the plaintiff to the home while kicking the defendant out. If, instead, the defendant has fled to another state, then Section 6103 requires the court to ignore that the defendant has fled, except that the court must still have jurisdiction over the defendant. Jurisdiction in this usage simply means the constitutional and statutory power to act against the defendant's interests.

Nondisclosure and Secrecy

A Pennsylvania PFA proceeding can include nondisclosure and secrecy restrictions that make it an especially confusing proceeding for an innocent defendant. Section 6111 of Pennsylvania's Protection from Abuse Act provides that if the court finds that the defendant endangers a plaintiff who requests nondisclosure of address, telephone number, and other location information, the court must enter an order for nondisclosure. Police, human services, and schools must not disclose to the defendant the presence of the plaintiff or child or furnish any address, telephone number, or other location information.

An Effective Challenge to a PFA Petitions

Full Hearing. A court issuing a temporary PFA order, or one hearing a PFA petition that did not request such an order, must follow up in the first ten days with a full hearing. The plaintiff will have alleged the qualifying relationship and act in the plaintiff's petition. The plaintiff may have already testified to both the relationship and abuse in an ex parte hearing. The Protection from Abuse Act, though, intends the full hearing to be the time when and place where the defendant may effectively challenge the petition.

Presenting Defense Evidence. For an effective challenge, though, the defendant must step forward with evidence at the full hearing. Yes, the plaintiff has the preponderance burden of proof. But the plaintiff meets that burden by presenting any credible evidence. The defendant must then come forward with at least some evidence to place the plaintiff's evidence in genuine dispute. The defendant cannot simply rest on rights, hoping that the court will disbelieve the plaintiff, if the plaintiff has supplied at least some credible evidence of a qualifying relationship and abuse act. That's how a defendant beats the PFA request—by presenting defense evidence. At the full hearing, the court will consider the defendant's countervailing testimony and the testimony of other defense witnesses. If you face a PFA petition or temporary PFA order that you believe is in any way unjustified, then be sure to retain Pennsylvania criminal-defense attorney Joseph Lento to raise your challenge in the full hearing.

Appeals of PFA Orders

Appeal Proceedings. Under the Act's Section 6117, Pennsylvania's general court rules apply to PFA proceedings, other than as the Protection from Abuse Act expressly provides. While the Act does not mention appeals from final PFA orders, Pennsylvania statutes on appeals from lower courts provide the PFA defendant with an appeal of right. The defendant appealing an adverse PFA order must file a notice of appeal within thirty days of the order. An appeal then proceeds through the preparation of the record on appeal, drafting of appeal briefs, and appeal arguments. Any further appeal from an adverse decision would be by appellate discretion. Appealing a PFA order is not a simple task for a layperson. You need a skilled appellate lawyer to succeed with an appeal. Pennsylvania criminal-defense attorney Joseph Lento and the Lento Law Firm handle appeals from PFA orders.

Reversible Error. Trial judges do make errors. Appellate courts reverse trial court errors. Not every bad decision, though, makes for reversible error. The appellate review standard for a trial judge's decision on a PFA order depends on showing an error of law, abuse of discretion, or other irregularity. A disagreement over what evidence is more credible, such as which witness is telling the truth or lying, is generally not a ground for appeal. It's better to prevail at the initial hearing than to have to appeal. But appeals can correct certain errors, which could well result in reversal of PFA orders. If you believe you may have an appeal from an adverse PFA order, then retain Pennsylvania criminal-defense attorney Joseph Lento and the Lento Law Firm as skilled appellate practitioners able to assist you with an appeal.

Modification of PFA Orders

Grounds for Modification. Time passes, and circumstances change with time's passing. Pennsylvania's Protection from Abuse Act anticipates that as the time from an initial PFA order passes, one or both parties to the PFA order may find themselves in a different position or relationship to the order. Parties change housing, jobs, and relationships. They get counseling and treatment, and they mature. They even forgive and forget, healing broken relationships. The Act does not state the grounds on which a party may request that the court modify the PFA order. But these kinds of changes in circumstances are common grounds for a court to modify an equitable order. If things have changed since the court issued the PFA order, then consider whether the order's modification would be to your advantage.

Procedure for Modification. If a PFA order's modification is to your advantage, then the Act authorizes the court to make a modification if you follow the appropriate procedure. The Act's Section 6117 permits a party to file a petition to modify the PFA order. Attorneys typically draft, file, and argue petitions of this kind. If your counsel successfully advocates a petition to modify, then Section 6117 permits the court to grant the petition and modify the PFA order at any time from when the court issues it until it expires. If you face the desire or need to modify a PFA order, then retain Pennsylvania criminal-defense attorney Joseph Lento to draft, file, and advocate a petition to modify. A PFA order isn't cast in concrete.

Foreign Protection Orders

The Act's Section 6104 assures full faith and credit to foreign protection orders. Pennsylvania courts will enforce many foreign orders. That enforcement means that if you are subject to a protection order in another state, the person who got that order against you may ask that Pennsylvania's courts enforce it against you in Pennsylvania. Persons may file foreign orders in Pennsylvania to encourage enforcement but need not do so. Pennsylvania's courts have power under Pennsylvania's Protection from Abuse Act to enforce another state's protection order even if the protected person has not filed the foreign order in Pennsylvania.

Challenging Foreign Protection Orders

Section 6104 of Pennsylvania's Protection from Abuse Act, though, allows a defendant to challenge Pennsylvania enforcement of the foreign order. Section 6104 provides that if the foreign court failed to provide notice and an opportunity for hearing, then the Pennsylvania court should not enforce the order. In other words, the foreign protection proceeding must provide protections like Pennsylvania's PFA procedures. Notice and an opportunity for hearing are the twin hallmarks of constitutional due process, which involves the fairness of legal proceedings. A petitioner should not be able to get a foreign order where the defendant has no notice and opportunity to challenge the order, and then bring it to the defendant's Pennsylvania home to enforce it. If you face a Pennsylvania proceeding to enforce a foreign protection order against you, when you had no fair opportunity to challenge the foreign order, then retain Pennsylvania criminal-defense attorney Joseph Lento to prevent the foreign order's enforcement in Pennsylvania.

PFA Orders and Firearms

The authors of PFA legislation, like Pennsylvania's Protection from Abuse Act, reasonably believe that keeping firearms out of the reach of potential abusers diminishes the probability of serious or fatal harm. Section 6108 of Pennsylvania's Act permits the court to order the defendant to relinquish firearms to the local sheriff for safekeeping during the order. Section 6108.1 requires the court to order the firearms' return when the PFA order expires, if the defendant can meet conditions including State Police clearance. Section 6108.2 authorizes the court to permit the defendant to transfer the firearms to a dealer for sale or safekeeping, instead of to the sheriff. Section 6108.3 authorizes the court to permit the defendant to transfer the firearms to a person holding a safekeeping permit. If you face a dispute over the relinquishment, transfer, safekeeping, or return of your firearms under a PFA order, then retain Pennsylvania criminal-defense attorney Joseph Lento to resolve that dispute in your favor.

Remedies for PFA Order Abuses

When Pennsylvania's legislature enacted the Protection from Abuse Act, it anticipated that some plaintiffs would abuse it. The Act's Section 6117 acknowledges the probability that some plaintiffs would commence PFA proceedings “in bad faith.” The Act does not define what it means by bad faith. A Pennsylvania Superior Court case Courtney v Courtney, 2019 Pa. Super. 50 (Feb. 22), which awarded a PFA defendant attorney's fees for the plaintiff's bad faith filing of a PFA petition without any fear of violence, applied Black's Law Dictionary defining bad faith as “dishonesty of belief, purpose, or motive.”

In short, if the plaintiff lies in the PFA petition, and manipulates the petition to gain something other than protection, then the court is likely to find bad faith. The Act's Section 6117 then specifically authorizes the court in a PFA proceeding to award the defendant actual damages and reasonable attorney's fees, if a preponderance of the evidence shows the plaintiff's bad faith. If you believe that the plaintiff in a PFA proceeding in which you are the defendant filed the petition in bad faith, then retain Pennsylvania criminal-defense attorney Joseph Lento to evaluate and advocate that counterclaim. Sometimes, the best defense is a good offense.

Aggressive Defense of PFA Petitions

Anyone facing a Pennsylvania PFA petition has reason to be concerned, indeed reason to fight the petition. A Pennsylvania PFA petition puts the defendant at risk of losing everything, from home to personal effects to relationships with children or other dependents. It also creates risks of unintentional violation, prosecution, and conviction for criminal contempt, which could mean not only incarceration and fines but also loss of job, housing, license, career, and reputation. Pennsylvania PFA orders go in a nationwide database, in effect creating a criminal-like record that follows one from state to state. Some petitioners also manipulate PFA proceedings for other gains, such as in divorce and child custody proceedings. Poorly trained and over-eager reporters of suspected child abuse can also lead to false or exaggerated allegations in PFA petitions.

These reasons, and the complex, trial-like PFA procedures, are why you need aggressive defense representation from criminal-defense attorney Joseph D. Lento. If you or someone you know faces a Pennsylvania PFA proceeding, then call the Lento Law Firm now at 888-535-3686 or contact us online for help.

Contact Us Today!

footer-2.jpg

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.

Menu