Your Text Messages Can Be Used Against You in a PFA Case

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | May 20, 2023 | 0 Comments

Pennsylvania's Protection from Abuse (PFA) Act was enacted more than thirty years ago to allow victims of actual or threatened abuse to seek a court order that restricts the recipient of the order from having various forms of contact with the victim. An “act of abuse” under the PFA Act isn't limited to actual physical abuse. An act of abuse can include threats of bodily injury or words that, by their content and context, “place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury.”

Text Messages Can Support a PFA Order

There are any number of different types of communications between the alleged victim and the defendant that can be used to prove an “act of abuse” occurred. Even though the PFA Act was signed into law before text messages were possible, let alone widely used, there have been many, many instances where courts have relied on text messages sent by the defendant to support entering a PFA order against that person. Even a single text message can be enough for a court to find that the recipient was placed in fear as a result of the content and context of that message.

Context Can Make a Big Difference

The problem with individual text messages is that they are often just a tiny part of a much longer conversation. Sometimes these conversations can stretch on for hours or even days. People may text back and forth as though they are talking to each other in person, or they can wait hours or days between responses. It can be easy to take an isolated text from a larger conversation and claim that it represents some sort of threat. When placed in its proper context, however, the message may take on a completely different meaning.

This is why it's important to be working with an experienced defense attorney who can help make sure that things like isolated text messages aren't used unfairly to support a PFA order where one isn't needed. Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team have years of experience helping defendants in PFA cases protect themselves against overbroad and unnecessary PFA orders.

Why Fight a Request for a PFA Order?

At first glance, it might not seem as though being on the receiving end of a PFA order is a big deal. After all, the orders don't punish any past acts; they simply protect against potential future abuse. The problem is that many PFA orders are very broad and can prohibit you from doing all sorts of things that you may want or need to do – including living in your own home, seeing your children, being at their school or after-school activities, and even walking into certain public places like shops or restaurants. And if you violate the terms of a PFA order, even unintentionally, the consequences can be severe.

You Need the Help of an Experienced Attorney

Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team have been representing defendants in PFA order cases in Pennsylvania for years. They have a deep understanding of how the law works and what standards must be met before a court can issue a PFA order. They will help you understand the situation, identify the evidence that's being used against you, and make strong arguments in your favor based on the facts of your situation so that the court either denies the order or issues the narrowest one possible.

If you're served with notice that a temporary PFA order has been issued against you, don't delay. Call Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team as soon as possible at 888.535.3686, or use the online contact form to set up a confidential consultation.

About the Author

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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