The Potential Abuse of PFAs

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Apr 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

Protection from abuse (PFA) orders are civil court actions designed to deter abuse, or the fear of abuse, towards an individual and/or children. It consists of remedies specific to the circumstances of a domestic violence case to cease abusive tendencies and actions within the confines of personal relationships. Since most alleged perpetrators take the issuance of these orders seriously, they have been proven to have a significant impact on decreasing the rates of domestic violence. This is because alleged abusers fear the serious imminent consequences they'll face in the event of a violation.

The effectiveness of PFA orders in domestic abuse cases is unquestionable, however, concerns about their potential abuse are valid. Serving a PFA in the absence of abuse or the fear or abuse is often a vengeful method of gaining leverage in a contentious family debacle. The very nature of domestic violence cases, and the relatively easy process to successfully serve a PFA makes this process a breeding ground for false or exaggerated claims to thrive. In consideration of serving a PFA, the court assesses a plaintiff's word versus a defendant's word. If, based on these erroneous claims, the courts are compelled to take action on behalf of an alleged victim, a defendant will be subjected to the undeservingly strict terms of a PFA order for preventative measures.

A PFA order on improper grounds can have a detrimental impact on a defendant. Innocent people have been evicted from their residency, have lost their right to carry a firearm, been issued a child support order, and have lost the privilege of traveling freely due to the unwarranted entry of a PFA.

In order to get a PFA served in Philadelphia, a plaintiff must only confirm two pieces of information: that he or she (or their children) endured some form of physical abuse, and that the defendant is a “member of the household.” State law has broadened the parameters of who can be considered a member of the household. It claims that a member does not necessarily have to reside in the same residence as a victim per say. A member can be a person that is related to an alleged victim, or has been romantically or sexually intimate with them.

It's important to note that the majority of plaintiffs that request a PFA are in abusive situations and need protection from a perpetrator. The issue of falsely obtained restraining orders wouldn't be prevalent if it weren't for the existence of a much larger problem: domestic violence. Domestic violence is often committed behind closed doors, hidden from loved ones, neighbors, coworkers, and any other spectators. Victims who suffer from battered woman syndrome feel great shame when the abuse occurs, and as a result refrain from contacting authorities, confiding in a doctor about their injuries, or documenting the abuse they've suffered.

The unique and intricate elements in domestic violence cases create a set of issues for judges who have the discretion to issue an order. Understandably, they develop a “better safe than sorry” approach to these cases, which can be much to the dismay of people who have been falsely accused.

Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney

Being falsely accused of abuse is a difficult issue to deal with. To weed out the false accusations, defendants are granted an opportunity to request a hearing to claim their innocence. In this hearing, however, the stakes are high. Individuals who attend a hearing and lose will have to live with the a record of abuse that is accessible to anyone with access to public records. It can inhibit opportunities for employment, government aid, involvement in certain organizations, the continuation of your education and more.

If you are in this situation, you should contact knowledgeable attorney Joseph D. Lento. He has years of experience helping individuals who have been in your shoes overcome fabricated and exaggerated claims in a hearing. He can do the same for you. Contact him today for help.

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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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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.

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