PFA Protection Order Attorney
Relationships with family members and romantic partners are complicated. Even when you have good and strong relationships with individuals, there are layers of feelings involved. There may be instances of past harm which leave behind a small amount of anger, resentment, or distrust. There are times when there are too many hurtful situations between you and another person. This causes your relationship to deteriorate, and you may find yourself arguing, and doing things you never expected yourself to do. You may also be on the receiving end of behavior you never expected. When a relationship turns sour and you become a victim of domestic abuse, you need to speak with an attorney immediately. You have options to protect yourself, including obtaining a protection from abuse (PFA) order. You can gain physical and legal distance from the person who hurt you, enabling you to heal and find a healthier and safer situation.
At Czekaj Law, LLC, we also understand that worsening relationships can lead to misunderstandings and false allegations. We are here to help domestic violence victims seek the protection they deserve. We are also here to defend you when you have been falsely accused of unlawful behavior. We can address these false allegations on both the civil and criminal fronts. An experienced domestic violence lawyer will aggressively defend against protection orders and fight for accusations to not harm your standing in a family law matter. If the allegations lead to criminal charges, we will defend you there as well.
If you are involved in a domestic violence situation, we are here to help. Call us at (717) 275-9770 to schedule an initial consultation with a skilled restraining order attorney.
There Are Multiple Types of Protection Orders in Pennsylvania
Protection from Abuse (PFA)
Under Pennsylvania law, domestic abuse arises when anyone knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly causes you bodily injury of any kind or causes you to fear bodily injury of any kind. It includes offenses such as assault, sexual assault, rape, sexual abuse of children, stalking, harassment, and more. To be labelled domestic abuse, these actions must be perpetrated against you by a current or former:
- Live-in partner
- Intimate or sexual partner
- Family or household member related by blood
- Family or household member related by marriage
PFAs are available to you when you have suffered physical, psychological, or sexual abuse at the hands of someone in your household or family with whom you had an intimate relationship. There are number of ways a PFA can protect you from suffering further domestic abuse. It can do much more than stating the perpetrator must not speak to or hurt you anymore. Through a PFA, a judge may:
- Prohibit the offender from contacting you and/or your children
- Prohibit the offender from threatening, harassing, stalking, or abusing you
- Evict the offender from your home
- Grant you temporary custody of minor children
- Grant you temporary child support
- Grant you temporary spousal support
- Prohibit the offender from possessing firearms or obtaining carry permits and to turn over any guns to law enforcement
- Require the offender to complete a counseling, education, or treatment program
- Require the offender to reimburse you for your expenses related to the abuse
Protection from Intimidation (PFI)
If you are a minor who is being intimidated by an adult, you should speak with an attorney about filing a petition for a PFI, which would order the offender to have no contact with you. Intimidation typically involves harassment or stalking.
While a PFA requires a specific type of relationship, a PFI does not. You do not have to be a family member or in the same household as the adult perpetrator. However, you must be a minor under the age of 18 years filing a protection order against someone who is 18 years or older.
Sexual Violence Protection Order (SVPO)
Filing a petition for a SVPO may be the most appropriate step after you have been harmed by sexual violence that was perpetrated by someone other than a family or household member or intimate partner. This type of protection order is not based on a specific type of legal relationship. Instead, you can seek a SVPO against any other type of individual, such as a co-worker, neighbor, friend, acquaintance, or stranger.
Since this is a civil protection, it does not rely on whether a prosecutor brought charges against the offender. You may still file a petition for this order even if charges were never filed, dropped, or the offender was acquitted.
The Process for Requesting an Emergency, Temporary, and Final Protection Orders
When you face immediate harm while court is closed, you may be able to obtain an emergency protective order from a magistrate. You do not go through a full hearing or notify the offender you are asking for it in this situation. However, this type of order only lasts until the next day the local court is open and you can return to file for a temporary order.
To request a temporary or final protection order, you must file the appropriate forms with the appropriate Court of Common Pleas, which is typically where you live. However, you may file a petition in the county where you work or where you were harmed instead. If you are unsure of where to file, always speak with a restraining order lawyer first.
Once your forms are completed and filed, your petition will be presented to a judge for a temporary or final order. The judge will review your statement to determine if you or your children are in danger. This is typically done ex-parte, which means the offender is not present. If you and your attorney can show the danger you are in, the judge will sign a temporary order lasting up to 10 days. In that time, a hearing for a final order is scheduled and the offender is notified so they can defend themselves in court.
When you return to court for the final protection order hearing, your experience will be more like a trial. Your offender will have the opportunity to dispute your statement and defend themselves against being subjected to a PFA or other protection order. Your attorney will strive to prove you are in danger from the offender by a preponderance of the evidence and that a protection order is necessary.
You May Find Yourself Facing a PFA Based on False Information
PFAs are unfortunately used as a strategic tool during many family matters. In a divorce, child custody dispute, or spousal support dispute, one spouse may feel that tarnishing the other spouse’s reputation will provide them leverage to obtain what they want within the family court. Accusing you of domestic abuse may sway a judge toward awarding your child’s other parent full custody or alimony.
As emotionally and legally challenging as this situation is, you must speak to a domestic abuse lawyer immediately about false allegations of abuse. There are ways to defend yourself against a petition for a PFA. Your attorney will help you gather evidence that supports your actions and character. This may include obtaining character references from family, friends, and co-workers. Your attorney may line up witnesses who heard or saw the incidents in question. Your attorney will also prepare to cross examine your accuser to draw out any gaps in their story or that will bring to light motivations for making false accusations.
Let Our Domestic Violence Lawyer Fight for What is Right
PFAs and other protection orders are important tools for domestic abuse, sexual violence, stalking, and harassment victims. They should never be used inappropriately and unethically to alter the course of a family law matter.
At Czekaj Law, LLC, we fight for these measures to be used appropriately to protect men and women when they are in danger. If you come to us asking for help after being harmed by someone, we will do everything we can to ensure you do not experience additional physical or psychological injuries.
We will also protect you from false allegations that could significantly impact your reputation, career, and family life. We aggressively fight against false accusations of domestic abuse, and defend against the inappropriate use of protection orders.