Protection Order Abuses in PA
Being placed under a protection from abuse order can be incredibly distressing, but it’s vital you obey the law.
A protection from abuse order (PFA) is there to protect victims and people who may be at risk from someone they know. It’s vital in keeping many people safe, but it is also often abused. If you’ve been served with a PFA, it may seem unfair, or unjust but you will be able to put your case. Whatever you do, it’s vital that you go through the proper channels and this starts with consulting a lawyer.
What is a PFA?
A PFA is a restraining order. It is there to protect people who say they have suffered violence or abuse at the hands of someone they know. If the magisterial judge grants the order, the chances are you will spend a night in the cells and have any firearms confiscated.
Who is eligible for a PFA?
- Spouse and Ex-Spouse
- Domestic Partners
- Same Sex Partners
- People related by blood or marriage (brother or sister)
- Current or former sexual partners including ones that dated
If the complainant is your spouse, you will not be able to return home and will be forbidden from having any contact with them of any kind. This includes phone calls, letters, emails and so on. Any contact at all is out of the question. You may also be required to stay a minimum distance away from the complainant at all times. If there is a child involved, the judge may add special orders on communication and those should be strictly followed. They may order that you communicate in certain ways and in certain apps to provide the court a level of transparency into the situation.
Unlike a conviction for violence, there is no need for proof beyond reasonable doubt. After filing a petition for a Protection From Abuse order the court reviews the information. If a temporary PFA is granted a court date will be set for a full hearing. If it is denied, a full hearing will be set within 10 business days. The onus is on protecting someone who may be at risk, which means they will always have the upper hand. From your point of view, though, it can feel like you’re being judged guilty without a trial. Understandably, then, many people are tempted to take matters into their own hands. However, that would be a serious mistake.
How can I fight a PFA?
The penalties for breaking the terms of a PTA are severe. You could face a fine and imprisonment. It will also work against you in any ongoing case. The complainant will say your actions support their case and a court may well be inclined to agree.
The most important thing, therefore, is to get expert legal advice. When you’re served with an emergency PTA, you will have a chance to state your case within ten days at a family court. This hearing is crucial. If a permanent PTA is granted, you may not be allowed to see your children, your rights to bear a firearm will be taken away and you could find yourself shut out of the family home.
You attorney will be the one person fighting your corner. All too often we’ve seen people applying for PFAs out of spite or to get the edge in any custody battle. If that’s the case, the evidence should back up your story. So, as distressing as this might be, you must put your faith in your legal representation and let justice run its course.