Protection from Abuse Order (PFA)
Domestic violence is a hot-button issue both in society and in the courtroom, for the alleged offender and the alleged victim of abuse. While it is of utmost importance to protect true victims of spousal abuse, child abuse, or other forms of domestic violence in Chester County, it is also important to ensure the civil rights of the falsely accused are not violated. It is possible in all cases for the victim to be a true victim of abuse, as well as for the alleged perpetrator to be falsely accused as a part of a bigger-picture scenario such as a heated child custody battle or divorce.
Chester County Protection from Abuse Order Attorney
The middle ground in determining the truth of the matter on the civil side is the Pennsylvania Protection from Abuse Order (PFA) and the related hearing. The outcome of a Protection from Abuse Order in Pennsylvania can have a serious impact on the lives of both the alleged victim and the alleged perpetrator.
If you are seeking a PFA or responding to one in Chester County, Lancaster County, Delaware County, or Montgomery County or Philadelphia, contact the experienced legal team at Ciccarelli Law Offices.
Our compassionate family lawyers will guide your case with a steady hand as a team to fight for the best outcome in your Pennsylvania PFA case. Call (610) 692-8700 or send an online message for a free consultation so we can act as soon as possible. We are based in West Chester PA and serve clients throughout Chester County, Lancaster County and suburban Philadelphia including West Chester, Kennett Square, Oxford, Avondale, Landenberg, West Grove, Paoli, Malvern, Downingtown, Coatesville, Exton, Parkesburg, Berwyn and Devon. We have convenient meeting locations in Lancaster, Philadelphia, Plymouth Meeting, Kennett Square, Malvern, Springfield, King of Prussia, and Radnor. Our family lawyers serve those with immediate legal needs in Chester County, Montgomery County, Delaware County and Lancaster County.
PFA Orders Under Pennsylvania Law
- Important Legal Definitions Related to Domestic Violence
- Chester County Court Hearings for PFA Petitions
Important Legal Definitions Related to Domestic Violence
A Protection from Abuse Order is a restraining order or protective order intended to prevent one family member or household member from causing harm to another family or household member. Generally, this protection is for acts of domestic violence such as domestic assault, sexual assault, harassment, stalking, false imprisonment, or child abuse and can prevent the alleged offender from communicating with or coming within a certain geographic distance of the alleged victim.
Family members and household members in Pennsylvania for the purpose of domestic violence and PFAs are not just limited to your core family. An order can be issued against any of the following current or former family or household members:
- Spouses or ex-spouses
- Current or former live-in boyfriends or girlfriends
- Current or former sexual or otherwise intimate partners
- Current or former roommates
- Parents and children
- Persons related by blood
- Persons related or formerly related by marriage
- Persons who share biological parenthood
Chester County Court Hearings for PFA Petitions
After the abuse victim files a petition for a Protection from Abuse Order, the judge may issue an Ex Parte PFA order that is valid until the restraining order hearing occurs. This has the same effect as a permanent PFA for the time leading up to the hearing, which usually can be up to 10 business days. In either scenario, it is wise for both the alleged abuser and the victim to seek the counsel of an experienced attorney immediately, given the short time frame.
During the hearing for the Protection from Abuse Order, the judge will decide if a PFA is warranted either as a continuance of the ex parte or permanently based on a preponderance of evidence. This is not the same as proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
The abuse victim need only prove that he or she is sufficiently threatened for a PFA beyond a 50% probability of truth instead of 100% probability. If the judge decides there is enough evidence to prove preponderance beyond 51%, a PFA will be issued. If not, the civil case will be dropped.
Real Life Consequences of Protection From Abuse Orders
Once the order is issued, what is required of the defendant will depend on what contingencies the judge specifies in the order. Generally, this involves provisions defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 4954 like:
- Prevention of criminal stalking or harassment
- Modification or prevention of communication with victim and any children
- Requirement to maintain at least the specific geographic distance away from the victim
This can have serious ramifications on the PFA recipient’s life, such as having to find and pay for separate living quarters outside of the joint residence, the requirement of paying support to the victim, making family contact difficult, and interfering with child visitation.
If the Protection from Abuse Order is a continuance, this may go on for a period up to 18 months. However, it is possible for the judge to issue a permanent order against the defendant. Legal representation from an experienced Chester County family lawyer is recommended to protect the rights and welfare of all parties involved.
Working with an Attorney to Pursue a Domestic Violence Restraining Order
If you are seeking to escape a violent home situation or if you have been served with a PFA that is unwarranted, contact the compassionate family law team at Ciccarelli Law Offices. We will fight hard for the preferred outcome of your PFA order case in Chester County, Lancaster County, Delaware County, or Montgomery County. Call (610) 692-8700 to set up your free initial case consultation with Ciccarelli Law Offices today.