Protection From Abuse

No one should ever have to deal with an abusive situation. A protection from abuse (PFA) order offers civil legal protection to both male and female victims of domestic violence.

In dangerous situations, emergency protection from abuse petitions may be filed with a local magistrate to obtain an emergency 24-hour protection from abuse order.  This order will automatically expire after 24 hours of when it was issued.

An individual may also seek a temporary protection from abuse order from the Court of Common Pleas in his/her respective county. If granted, this order may grant the initiating individual’s request for relief, including but not limited to, ordering that the defendant may not contact the plaintiff, temporary exclusive possession of a residence and/or temporary custody and support.  If a temporary protection from abuse order is filed, the court will automatically schedule a hearing on the allegations contained within the temporary order within ten days of the date it was granted.  The defendant will then be served with the petition and temporary order by the Sheriff’s Department.

During the PFA hearing, the court will make a determination as to whether a final protection from abuse order should be granted for up to a maximum of three years. In making this determination, the court must consider whether one or more of the following acts between family or household members, sexual or intimate partners, or persons who share biological parenthood occurred:

  • Attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury, serious bodily injury, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault or incest with or without a deadly weapon.
  • Placing another in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
  • The infliction of false imprisonment as outlined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 2903.
  • Physically or sexually abusing minor children, which may involve child protective services.
  • Knowingly engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts toward another person, including following the person without proper authority under circumstances which place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the court may grant a final order for protection from abuse, dismiss or deny the protection from abuse petition, or in some counties in Pennsylvania, the court may enter a civil order addressing the concerns of the person initiating the protection.

Conversely, if you are on the receiving end of a temporary or final protection from abuse order, violations of that order may have criminal ramifications.  With that in mind, it is imperative that defendants obtain attorneys for representation at the PFA hearing, as soon as possible after service.

Whether a victim or an alleged offender, attorneys of the Burns White Family Law Group are primed and ready to be your best advocate.