Laws that are intended to protect children are notoriously tough. And that's understandable. Minors are a vulnerable population; they don't have a lot of say in what or who surrounds them. The courts take on that responsibility. The laws, then, that are enacted to protect children are restrictive—but can also leave a negative mark on a record for a long time.
The impact of being the subject of a Protection from Intimidation Order (PFIO) can be far-reaching and affect everything from who can enter a family home to who can drive the family car or where and with whom they can spend their time. People who are in regular contact with minors—adult friends of the family, coaches, teachers, and tutors—are especially vulnerable to these kinds of accusations.
What is a Protection From Intimidation Order?
A PFIO is used in stalking or harassment cases where the perpetrator is over 18, and the victim is under 18. The two parties must not share a family, household, or intimate partner relationship. Additionally, PFIs are not for cases where both parties are minors under the age of 18, nor where they are both adults over 18. A PFIO is also not intended for cases involving a minor who is harassing or stalking an adult. In all cases, the victim must be a minor. An adult—a parent, guardian, or adult member of the household) must file the PFIO.
Examples of stalking and harassment include:
- Contacting a minor by phone or email.
- Showing up at a minor's home or school.
- Reaching out to a minor online or in chat.
- Threatening a minor with retribution, whether that's at school or at home.
- Leaving threatening messages in person, via email, or online.
What to Do if You Are Accused by a Minor
Because of the far-reaching impact of the effects of PFIO allegations, any accusation of the kind—even if it comes from a friend's child—must be taken seriously. Not unlike domestic violence, crimes or even suspicions of this nature are designed to impact a perpetrator's career and life. That means that any accusation of this type must be taken seriously. It's important to find surrogates who are familiar with the law and have experience dealing with heavy accusations as well as the weaknesses of cases of this kind—from missing proper documentation to having unreliable corroborating evidence.