Tom Petty said it well in his hit song, Walls: “Some days are diamonds, some days are rocks.” In late April, Gregory Lee Clark, 54, of St. Clair Township, got a rock. Early in the evening of the 27th, two deputies showed up at Mr. Clark's door to serve him with a Protection from Abuse (PFA) order.
Mr. Clark's reaction to the situation didn't help matters. His first response was to barricade himself inside the house. Through the letter slot in his door, he demanded the deputies present him with a court order or search warrant before entering. When the deputies explained to him that a PFA is a court order, he threatened to shoot them if they came in.
After a tense standoff and the arrival of more deputies and members of the state police, Mr. Clark did eventually surrender himself. In addition to the PFA, however, he now faces three counts of simple assault, three counts of terroristic threats, and one count of obstruction of justice.
A Better Response
It's pretty easy to spot most of Mr. Clark's mistakes. It's never a good idea to threaten law enforcement officers with a gun. But what should you do if you find yourself being served a PFA?
A PFA in Pennsylvania is similar to a restraining order. It offers relief for a “victim” from his or her “abuser.” That relief can come in several forms. In almost every case, the order will prohibit the abuser from contacting the victim or harassing them in any way. The order may include other stipulations as well, though. For example, it might demand the abuser return a victim's personal property.
No one wants to be served with a PFA. A PFA can force you out of your home, keep you from seeing your children, or cause you problems at work. Worst of all, it identifies you in public documents as an abuser, a label no one wants to carry.
Short of barricading yourself inside your home, though, what should you do if you are served with a PFA? First and foremost, don't make the situation worse. As Mr. Clark discovered, you don't get to choose whether or not you accept a PFA. A PFA is a court order, and you are bound by its terms. That also means you should never attempt to contact the person who filed the PFA. Doing so will only lead to criminal charges.
But accepting a PFA, and abiding by its provisions, doesn't mean that you have no options. You do have rights, and one of those is to fight the PFA. That fight should take place in a courtroom, though, rather than on your front porch.
Joseph D. Lento can Help
If you've been served with a PFA, remain calm and contact attorney Joseph D. Lento immediately. Joseph D. Lento can explain your rights and responsibilities as outlined in the order. More importantly, he can help you contest the order if you believe it was issued unfairly. Joseph D. Lento has unparalled experience in successfully resolving PFA cases, and he knows how to protect your rights.
Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686, or use our automated online form.