Violating a Protection Order
Even if you think you’ve been unfairly served a protection order, it is important that you respect its terms.
Being served with a protection order under any circumstances can be stressful and unpleasant. You may feel the terms are unfair and that your entire character has been brought into question. It’s only natural to feel a sense of anger, but whatever the circumstances, it is vital that you don’t violate the order. If you do, things are only going to get worse.
About protection orders
In Pennsylvania, victims of abuse such as domestic violence can apply to the courts for a protection from abuse order (PFA). If you’re served with this, you’ll have to stay away from the person, cut off contact and may be required to stay a minimum distance away from them.
These orders can be incredibly disruptive. If you’re living with the alleged victim, you will not be allowed to return home. You may also be stopped from seeing your children or have visitation rights severely restricted.
These cases can be extremely distressing for everyone involved. They often occur during the breakdown of a relationship in which one person accuses the other of violence or some other form of abuse.
Penalties for violating a protection order
The penalties for violating a protection order in Pennsylvania can be steep. They will vary depending on the severity of the offense. Fines can be as high as $1,000 ranging down to $300 and you could find yourself sentenced to six months in prison or six months’ probation.
The courts may also hold you in contempt. If this happens, you will not have a right to a jury trial, as with other offenses, but you will have a right to counsel. The alleged victim may also apply to have you found in civil contempt if they allege you violated the terms of PFA. Again, there will be no right to jury trial but you will be allowed to seek counsel.
A violation of PFA will also have ongoing effects on your pending case. For example, if a former spouse has taken out a PFA against you, but you still show up at the home, his or her lawyers will argue this proves you are still being aggressive.
Fighting a PFA
The first thing to do, then, is to obey the PFA. Regardless of the temptation, do not show up at the home and don’t give them anything which could be used against you.
The second thing is to take counsel. They will be able to analyse your case and advise on the best course of action. If the only evidence is testimony from the alleged victim, your position will be much stronger than if there is additional evidence.
Either way, an attorney’s duty is represent you to the best of their ability. They will be there for you at a highly stressful and distressing time.