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What Happens at a PFA Hearing in Pennsylvania?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | May 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

If you are facing a potential protection from abuse (PFA) order, it is understandable if you have questions about what might happen next. The process can be confusing, especially for anyone that has never experienced it. It is vital to understand the PFA process, however, given that the result could impact your ability to make a living, see your children, or exercise your constitutional rights.

In most cases, the critical moment during this process is at the PFA hearing itself. This is where the court will review each side's evidence and make their determination. Below, we discuss what you might expect when appearing at a Pennsylvania PFA hearing. While this outline can help you understand the broad strokes of the process, it is vital that you discuss the specifics of your situation with attorney Joseph D. Lento right away.

Understanding PFA Hearings

The PFA is typically the final step in the Pennsylvania restraining order process. When a complaining witness files a complaint, a judge will typically enter an “emergency” PFA order against the accused. However, this temporary order only lasts until the court can carefully review the case and make a final determination. This final determination occurs at the PFA hearing.

The PFA hearing occurs a short time after the initial order is entered. At the hearing, both sides have the opportunity to put on evidence or call witnesses. While similar to trial, facing a PFA hearing does not mean you have been charged with a crime.

When it comes to the evidence at these hearings, you could expect to see a wide range of testimony or documents. It is possible that either side could introduce medical records in there are alleged injuries involved. Testimony from a responding police officer could also be used depending on the circumstances.

It should be noted that many hearings involve little more than the testimony of the complaining witness. After all, the Supreme Court has held that a petitioner's testimony alone could be sufficient to lead to a PFA. That does not mean the court will believe every aspect of the petitioner's testimony. It is the trial court's job to weigh the evidence offered by both sides before determining if it is sufficient to require a PFA order.

When the court reaches their decision, they do so based on the “preponderance of the evidence” standard. This is a lower standard than a criminal trial, meaning there are cases where the evidence is sufficient for a PFA order but not a criminal conviction.

There are two outcomes that can follow a PFA hearing. The first involves the judge siding with the petitioner and issuing a full PFA order that extends the effect of the temporary order. Alternatively, the court could side with the accused and dismiss the petition entirely.

Put your Case in the Hands of an Experienced Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney

Pennsylvania PFA defense attorney Joseph D. Lento has dedicated his career for fighting for the rights of the accused. To discuss your potential defense options following the issuance of a temporary PFA, Contact Joseph D. Lento online or at 888-535-3686 today.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience fighting for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, as well as New Jersey. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being.

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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.

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, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Berks, Lancaster, Lehigh, and Northampton 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.

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