The Pennsylvania’s Protection from Abuse Act (PFA) is a statewide law that protects people from domestic violence and abuse. The PFA pertains specifically to family members and people within the household. Under the PFA, victims can file a legal Request for Protection from Abuse, which will protect the victim and his/her relatives from the perpetrator. The law prevents the abuser from contacting the victim, puts a restraining order in place, and requires the abuser to relinquish all firearms. Here are all the details about the Act.
Who Does the Act Protect Against?
The PFA protects people from violence from relatives and/or “household members.” Household members do not necessarily have to reside in the same house as the victim. Under the PFA, anyone with a close relationship to the victim (such as a sibling or sexual partner) can face consequences from the PFA regardless of whether or not the victim lives under the same roof. The PFA protects domestic abuse victims from the following people:
1 – Current or former spouse or sexual partner
2 – Person living with the victim as a partner
3 – Sexual partner even if he/she never lived with the victim
4 – Siblings and extended family members (by blood or marriage)
5 – Parent or child of the victim
6 – Someone the victim has a child with
If the victim is suffering violence or abuse from someone outside of these parties, such as from a stranger or coworker, the PFA does not apply. In these cases, the victim might seek protection through other laws, such as Pennsylvania laws against stalking. If the perpetrator is a relative or household member, however, the victim has options for protection through the Protection from Abuse Act.
Claims Process Through the PFA
The PFA pertains only to domestic violence and abuse, not other forms of assault, battery, and harassment. “Domestic abuse” as defined in the PFA is committing or attempting to commit acts such as bodily injury, rape, incest, threats of bodily injury, false imprisonment, and child abuse. Stalking and harassment between family or household members also qualifies as domestic abuse under the PFA. If someone in your household holds allegations of domestic violence against you, he or she has the right to file legal PFA paperwork against you.
The PFA filing process is different from county to county. In Chester County, the victim must go to the Family Court located at the Chester County Justice Center (fifth floor) to file a claim with the Protection from Abuse Act. The victim must bring a written statement that describes the act of violence as well as the date and time it occurred. Victims can also submit Emergency PFA orders outside of business hours by calling 911.
If the courts grant the PFA petition against you, you must stay away from the alleged victim’s home, workplace, and school. You cannot contact the person who filed the claim, as well as his/her children. You must also relinquish firearms to the local police department. Failure to obey the rules of a PFA petition can result in an arrest and criminal charges. Temporary PFA orders last about 10 days, or until the date of a hearing in which you can defend yourself against the allegations. Emergency PFA orders last until the victim can talk to a judge. Final PFA orders can last up to three years. Seek help from a defense attorney if someone has filed a PFA order against you.
Ciccarelli Law Offices understand the laws surrounding Protection Abuse Act and are available to provide a free a free consultation to answer any questions you may have.