If you or someone you love has been served with a PFA, you may be wondering what might violate the order. A PFA is a formal order that protects children or adults from physical or sexual abuse. For the court to award a PFA, the victim must be either (1) an adult member of a household, or (2) a guardian of a minor in the household, and (3) have some type of relationship with the abuser in the household. This relationship can be marriage, bloodline, current or past intimate relationship, or sharing a biological child.
Earlier in February 2021, a Pennsylvania news source reported that a Pennsylvania court accused a man of violating his PFA when he posted a photo of himself on Facebook holding a prop gun at an anti-lockdown protest. But the court determined that the photo did not violate his PFA because the weapon in question was a replica rifle – not a real rifle.
Violating a PFA
A PFA order can be violated in several ways, depending on what the court stipulates in the abuser's specific PFA. Additionally, a temporary PFA or a final PFA can each be violated. In general, a PFA is violated if:
- the abuse starts up again;
- the abuser refuses to leave the shared home;
- the abuser violates the new custody arrangement;
- the abuser continues to harass the victims;
- the abuser does not surrender their firearms;
- the abuser purchases new firearms;
- the abuser begins to stalk the victims; or
- the abuser contacts the victim outside of the stipulations within the order.
In the article mentioned above, the defendant's PFA expressly prohibited him from possessing firearms. So, the government charged him with violating the PFA when they believed the rifle in the photo was a real weapon.
Consequences for Violating a PFA
In Pennsylvania, the actual charge for violating a PFA is referred to as "indirect criminal contempt of court" and is different from a typical criminal charge. The consequences, for one, are much more specific. For instance, the court can punish the defendant with up to 6 months of jail time and fines of up to $1000. Additionally, this conviction will now be a permanent part of the defendant's criminal record and could inhibit their ability to see, or even raise, their child, and impede them from working.
How an Attorney Can Help
In some instances, individuals falsely accuse defendants of abuse, and because of a lack of effective representation, or overwhelming evidence even if not reflective of the truth, a court will still order a PFA order. For defendants who believe they are innocent, accidental PFA violations may occur. If this happens, it is essential to have an experienced criminal attorney on your side. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a skilled attorney who works diligently to gather evidence, review the nuances of your case, and build a strategic defense on your behalf.
PFA violations can have long-lasting consequences and affect every aspect of your life. Call 888.535.3686 today to schedule a consultation. Attorney Lento and the Lento Law Firm are here to help.