A protection from abuse (PFA) order is sometimes called a restraining order. The PFA can effectively prohibit someone from contacting the subject of the PFA, going to their house or work, and even prohibit gun ownership. There are so many restrictions in a PFA that losing a PFA can have a big impact on your life.
The most important part of a PFA hearing is to show up. If you do not show up, the order may be entered against you without you having the chance to defend yourself. It may take a lot of additional work to get the order reversed or dismissed. It is generally easier to challenge a PFA the first time than it is to change it after the order has been issued.
After reviewing this information and the PFA FAQ, if you have any questions or need help with a protection from abuse order in Pennsylvania, contact PFA defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm in Philadelphia or King of Prussia.
Missing an Emergency PFA Hearing in Pennsylvania
The first PFA may be an emergency or “ex parte” hearing. At an ex parte hearing, the defendant is almost universally not present. It may not seem fair that the court can enter an order against you without the opportunity to respond but the emergency orders have a shorter term. The ex parte temporary PFA may remain in place until the court hearing for a final PFA, generally within 10 business days. ("Final" hearing is a term used loosely as PFA cases are often not resolved at the first "final" hearing date for various reasons).
In almost all cases, the defendant will "miss" the ex parte hearing and may never find out about the hearing until they receive notice of the temporary order. The defendant is generally not notified of the ex parte temporary PFA. However, as soon as you learn about a protection order hearing, you should contact your attorney to begin building your defense.
Missing the Final PFA Hearing in Pennsylvania
The final PFA hearing is the most important part of a PFA order defense. A final PFA can be in place for up to three years and can be further extended by the court. If you receive notice of the final PFA, you need to appear. If you need more time to find a lawyer, you can request a continuance to obtain legal representation.
If you miss the final PFA hearing, the final PFA order may be entered by default. If the court finds that the defendant received proper notice of the hearing, then the order may be entered without the defendant having a chance to defend themselves or tell their side of the story. Even arriving 20 minutes late may be too late to challenge the initial hearing, so leave plenty of extra time to account for traffic, parking, and security getting into the courthouse. In the alternative, the court may also issue a bench warrant if it deems appropriate to the circumstances.
Call Your Attorney As Soon As Possible
If you cannot attend the PFA hearing because you will not be in town or because of an emergency, contact your attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will generally be able to request a continuance from the court. Similarly, if you just found out about the PFA hearing, you can contact your Pennsylvania PFA defense lawyer. Your lawyer can request more time on your behalf, appear on your behalf when possible, and make sure you have a chance to tell your side of the story.
Pennsylvania PFA Defense Lawyer
Pennsylvania PFA defense attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped clients avoid restraining orders that prevent gun ownership, limit where and when they can go somewhere, and who they can talk to. Having your voice heard in this challenging time is critical and the Lento Law firm can help. Contact Joseph D. Lento today at 888-535-3686.