Restraining orders can be placed against people for a variety of reasons. Whether you have been accused of abuse, domestic violence, threatening, or other allegations, a restraining order could significantly impact your life. The penalties could be even worse if you are accused of violating a restraining order.

Consider contacting an attorney to help you understand the terms of the restraining order against you, when you may be accused of violating the order, and how to challenge the allegations against you.

What Can a Restraining Order Dictate?

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 called a Protection From Abuse Order (PFA). There are three types of PFA orders:

  • 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 is issued 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.

What Orders Does a PFA Contain?

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 essential that you fully understand the terms of the order and comply with them, even if it disrupts your family relationships, social life, or work life.

What Are the Penalties for PFA Violations?

If you violate a restraining order, the consequences can be serious. Violation of a PFA is a criminal offense 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.

You could also face collateral consequences if you are found guilty of violating a PFA. Some of the more common types of fallout include:

  • Revocation or suspension of your professional license
  • Issues with child custody or visitation rights
  • Suspension or revocation of your driver’s license
  • Risk of deportation or other citizenship issues
  • Difficulty maintaining relationships with family and friends
  • Loss of federal student aid eligibility
  • Loss of firearm rights

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.

Defenses against Accusations of Violations

If you have been accused of violating a PFA, several potential defenses could be available to you. Some of these include:

  • The alleged victim made false allegations
  • The alleged victim was hoping to obtain child custody
  • The alleged victim was hoping to retain possession of the shared home
  • The defendant did not know there was a protective order in place
  • The incident in question was an accident and lacked intent to commit a crime or harm the alleged victim

In many cases, you may be able to work with the prosecutor to obtain a plea agreement or enter a pretrial diversion program in the hopes of getting your charges reduced or dismissed altogether.

Your criminal defense attorney can carefully analyze the specific details of your case to determine how to best approach challenging the allegations against you.

Turn to a West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer 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 at 610-436-1410 or fill out our online contact form today for more information.

Article Author

Michael J. Skinner, the founder of Skinner Law Firm LLC, is a former prosecutor with the Chester County District Attorney’s Office.

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