A related or unrelated family member or romantic partner, either current or former, can get an emergency Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order against you. They must go before a judge to prove that domestic violence or abuse happened. However, you will have a chance to defend yourself at a hearing within ten days of issuance, but you must comply with the terms of the emergency or temporary order in the interim.
In This Article
A Philadelphia PFA defense lawyer shares why someone might be getting a PFA order against you in PA, what reasons someone can provide the court to get one, the types of PFAs offered by the commonwealth, what happens if the judge orders a final PFA, and where you can get help if you are facing accusations.
Why Is Someone Getting a PFA Order Against Me?
Your family member or partner is getting a PFA Order against you because they allege that you are harming them or will harm that in the future if the judge does not sign it. The purpose of a PFA is to protect real victims as quickly as possible from actual harm. However, you can defend yourself at the formal hearing if you did not commit the abuse your accused of committing.
In the interim, PFA Orders protect victims by limiting your rights in the following ways:
- No contact
- No abuse
- Firearms and gun prohibition and relinquishment
- Payment for abuse-related medical bills
- Loss of child custody
- Other limitations as ordered
There is nothing you can do to resolve the PFA Order against you until your scheduled hearing. The best thing you can do is comply with the terms and conditions contained within the order explicitly. Then, start getting advice from a Pennsylvania PFA defense attorney to help you determine your legal options.
Related Article: What Is a PFA in PA?
What Reason Can Someone Give to Get a PFA Against Me?
The reasons someone can give a judge to secure a PFA relate to allegations of domestic abuse and violence. However, these terms encompass many criminal behaviors that intend to harm, threaten or intimidate the Petitioner.
Reasons that they can give the court to receive a PFA in PA include:
- Causing or attempting to cause bodily injury
- Child abuse
- Damaging personal property
- Disturbing the peace
- False imprisonment
Your family member or partner may have a different reason for requesting a PFA Order. Regardless of the facts, the law states that they must show proof that they are being abused or likely to suffer at the hands of future abuse under 23 Pa.C.S. § 6102 (a).
What Types of PFAs Could They Get Against Me?
Your family member or partner could get one of three PFA Orders against you if they prove their case successfully. These PFAs include:
- Type 1. Emergency Orders: Emergency orders are available when courts are not open. However, this type only lasts until the courts reopen, which could be for a few hours or days.
- Type 2. Temporary Ex Parte PFA Order: Ex Parte PFA Orders are for matters involving minor-aged children or abuse. They will last until the first hearing, where the judge can render a final order.
- Type 3. Final PFA: A judge could issue a PFA and limit your rights for up to three years or more in certain circumstances. However, your partner or family member will need to prove that abuse more likely than not happened.
Each type of PFA carries specific periods and terms that dictate what you cannot do over the ordered period. If you did not commit domestic assault or violence, you should not accept responsibility for the allegations. The consequences of getting one are limiting and could seriously affect your future.
What Happens If Someone Gets a Final PFA Against Me?
As described above, you could face a significant limitation of your rights in PA if someone gets a PFA. However, the final PFA order lasts for a distinct period, sometimes up to three years or more. Depending upon your situation, an order could significantly disrupt your life, including finding a place to live, possessing firearms, and sharing time with children.
A PFA violation can lead to criminal contempt charges and other crimes, which worsens the situation. In that case, you could face fines, jail time, and other penalties imposed by a judge. Even well-intentioned people make mistakes, meaning you should get legal advice as quickly as possible to regain as much control as possible.
What Should I Do If Someone Wrongfully Accuses Me of Abuse or Violence?
You should avoid discussing your case with anyone or answering questions about it without legal advice. Follow the PFA Order’s terms and get representation as soon as possible. An attorney can take over the communications on your behalf, review the alleged evidence, and argue for your rights during your first hearing.
Related Article: How Do You Defend Against a PFA in PA?
Where Can I Get Help to Defend Against a PFA?
You can get help to defend against a PFA in PA by getting legal advice from a criminal defense lawyer. We know how to identify and apply the laws to your specific situation and offer advice based on you case’s unique facts and circumstances. This information can help you collectively devise a case strategy that focuses on your rights when trying to refute the need for a PFA.
Call Shuttleworth Law P.C. for a Free Case Evaluation
The legal team at Shuttleworth Law P.C. defends allegations of domestic violence and abuse. Call us for a Free Case Evaluation at 888-529-3486 or message Brad V. Shuttleworth, Esq. here. Secure video chat is available upon request.