If a person is accused or convicted of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, stalking, or similar offenses, the court may issue a restraining order, which in Pennsylvania is called a Protection From Abuse Order (PFA). Three types of PFAs may issue:
- An emergency order issued at night or over the weekend when the court is closed and someone claims to need immediate protection. Once the court is open, the order expires and an alleged victim will need to request further assistance from the court.
- An ex parte temporary order, which means the PFA issues without the presence of the alleged offender. A victim can request this temporary order and a judge can issue it based on the victim’s statements alone.
- A final order can be issued by the court only after both parties have an opportunity to present testimony to the court. You have the right to defend against a PFA by challenging the victim’s allegations. It is important to have proper defense representation during this hearing to prevent an order against you when possible.
A PFA can significantly disrupt your life and impose difficult restrictions and requirements with mandatory compliance. Terms of an order may include:
- Do not come into any contact with the victim, including in public places or over the phone
- Leave a home you shared with the victim or finance new housing for the victim
- Give up custody rights to your children
- Hand over any firearms or ammunition you possess and forfeit the right to purchase or possess additional firearms
- Pay for any expenses the victim incurred related to the PFA, including legal fees
- You may also be subject to additional restrictions specific to the details of your situation. No matter what requirements are set by the judge, it is important that you fully understand the terms of the order and that you comply with them, even if it disrupts your family relationships, social life, or work life.
If you violate a restraining order, the consequences can be serious. Violation of a PFA is a criminal offense of its own and can result in up to six months behind bars and a $1,000 fine. Furthermore, if you violate a temporary order, it can make it more challenging to defend against the issuance of a final order. If you are accused of violating a PFA, you should immediately consult with a Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer who can represent you and protect your rights.
Discuss Your Case With a West Chester Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Having a PFA against you can restrict your life and any alleged violations of the order can only make things worse. Jail time and fines can affect your job, personal reputation, finances, and more. You need a criminal defense lawyer on your side who knows how to defend against such charges and limit the penalties whenever possible. Please call The Skinner Law Firm 610-436-1410 or fill out our online contact form today for more information.