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Protection From Abuse Orders - From the Eyes of the Accused

Question: Who can file for a PFA Order?

Answer: Your spouse; your boyfriend, girlfriend, or significant other; any person with whom you have had sexual or intimate relations; the parent of your child(ren); your parent(s); or any person(s) related to you by blood or through marriage.

Solution: If a PFA has been filed against you and the person seeking the PFA does not fall within one of the categories indicated above, ask the judge to dismiss the PFA action because the plaintiff has failed to file against an appropriate party under the Protection from Abuse Act.

Question: If I am a defendant to a PFA action, what are the possible consequences that could result if a final order is granted by the judge?

Answer: If you are an avid hunter or a proud gun owner, you may be required to relinquish any existing firearms or weapons that you currently possess, and could be prohibited from owning, possessing, or using any firearms or weapons in the future. Additionally, if you and the other party live together and both parties jointly own the residence or both names are on the lease, the court has the authority to order exclusive possession of the residence to the plaintiff, regardless of whether the defendant has been or is responsible for making the payments. Even if the defendant is the sole owner of the residence or the only individual named the lease, the court can order the defendant to vacate the residence and permit the plaintiff to reside in the defendant’s residence. Alternatively, the judge could allow the defendant to stay in the residence but require the defendant to pay for other suitable housing for the plaintiff. Furthermore, the court has the authority to grant the plaintiff temporary custody of the parties’ child(ren) and/or require the defendant to undergo supervised visitation. The judge could even prohibit the defendant from speaking to or seeing his/her own children. Additionally, the judge could require a defendant to pay monetary support to the plaintiff and award the plaintiff restitution for any injuries or damages that were sustained during the PFA incident(s).

Question: What could happen if law enforcement finds out that my significant other and I have been talking and/or spending time together in violation of the PFA court order?

Answer: The police can charge you, as the defendant, with contempt, regardless of whether or not your significant other consented to the contact and communication. Even if the plaintiff tells the officer that he/she initiated the contact with you and wants the PFA Order dismissed, the police can still file contempt charges against you and a judge could find you in contempt. If you are found in contempt, you could face jail time in addition to monetary fines.

Legally, the PFA Order issued by the judge is a legal document, meaning that only a judge can alter or change any of the conditions or restrictions contained within the order. The parties themselves cannot change or alter the PFA Order unless they file a petition to modify the PFA Order and ask the Judge to change the conditions or restrictions in the existing PFA Order.

Solution. Either party, plaintiff or defendant, should file a Modification Order requesting that the PFA be modified to allow contact and communication or request that the PFA be dismissed entirely.

Question: Are there any consequences if the plaintiff lied to the police or victim witness in order to obtain a PFA?

Answer: Yes. The primary goal of a PFA is safety and the main purpose of a PFA is to protect a plaintiff who has been or is currently being abused, threatened, or harassed by a defendant. The plaintiff typically is in danger and/or in fear of his/her life. Sometimes, a plaintiff will use the PFA process in a manner in which it was not intended; such as, by attempting to gain leverage in a divorce proceeding by filing for a PFA in an effort to get the other party evicted from the parties’ marital residence. Other times, a plaintiff might file for a PFA to gain custody of the parties’ children instead of going through the legal process of filing for custody by initiating a custody complaint. If a Plaintiff lies to officers and reports an incident or facts that never occurred, the plaintiff could be charged with False Reports. Under 18 Pa.C.S. § 4906, a person who knowingly gives false information to any law enforcement officer with the intent to implicate another under this chapter commits an offense relating to false reports to law enforcement authorities.

Solution: If a defendant alleges that a plaintiff made false allegations against him/her in order to obtain a PFA Order for a purpose other than what the PFA Act was intended, the defendant should contact an attorney immediately to discuss contesting the PFA and taking the matter to a hearing. The defendant should also discuss with his/her attorney how he/she can prove to law enforcement authorities that the statements given to the officers at the initial incident were false and intentionally made to falsely implicate the defendant.
  • Experience

    90 Years
    Combined Experience

    When choosing a lawyer, experience makes the difference in the fight.

    Read Our Firm's History [+]
  • Success

    Top 100
    Trial Lawyers

    We have been awarded many honors, from Super Lawyers® to Top 100 Trial Lawyers.

    About These Awards [+]
  • Devotion

    Our Client
    Reviews

    Every client & their victory is priority to us as demonstrated through our reviews.

    Read Our Client Testimonals [+]
  • Protection

    Put Our Experience
    to Work For You

    Contact our firm today so that we can get started on winning your case!

    Consultation Form [+]