Protection From Abuse (PFA) Hearing / Contempt of PFA Order
In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, an alleged victim of abuse such as sexual assault, false imprisonment, stalking, or attempting, causing or placing another person in fear of bodily injury can file a petition for a Protection from Abuse (PFA) order. These orders are available to anyone who has been abused by a current or former spouse, parent, child, current or former sexual or intimate partner, or other individuals who are related by blood or marriage.
A PFA order can force an alleged offender to stay away from the alleged victim, but he or she may also be ordered to turn his or her weapons over to police, surrender temporary child custody, and pay for child support as well as the alleged victim’s losses and attorney fees. Before a final PFA order is issued, an alleged offender will have his or her opportunity to go before a judge and present evidence and/or witnesses to defend him or herself.
Philadelphia PFA Hearing Lawyer
Have you been falsely accused of abuse in Southeastern Pennsylvania and were recently served with a PFA? You should take this order seriously and immediately get yourself skilled legal counsel.
Alva & Shuttleworth, LLC defends clients in PFA hearings in Montgomery County, Delaware County, Chester County, Bucks County, Philadelphia County, and New Jersey. Our PFA hearing attorneys can review your case and discuss your legal options during a free, confidential consultation as soon as you call (215) 665-1695.
Pennsylvania PFA Hearing Information Center
- How are orders issued and what happens at the hearings?
- What are some of the ways a PFA order can affect an alleged offender?
- What are the possible consequences if a person violates a PFA order?
If you have been served a PFA, then chances are that the alleged victim in your case is seeking a final PFA order. He or she most likely has been granted an ex parte PFA order that went into effect after the temporary emergency PFA order expired, and the ex parte order stays in effect until the final hearing.
At a PFA hearing, it is important for alleged offenders to remember that no-contact orders are still in effect. The alleged victim and the alleged offender will usually be in separate rooms, but the alleged offender should stay away from his or her accuser if the two parties see one another at the courthouse. The order of the hearing typically works as follows:
- Alleged victim presents his or her case — The alleged victim will have the opportunity to testify about every alleged incident of abuse. He or she can also call witnesses to support his or her claims and present evidence such as hospital records, photographs, emails, text or voicemail messages, and bills that demonstrate damages or financial losses.
- Cross-examination — You will then have the chance to cross-examine the alleged victim and all witnesses that testified.
- Alleged offender presents his or her case — This will be your opportunity to testify about your version of the events in question, call your own witnesses, and present your own evidence.
- Cross-examination — The alleged victim then gets the opportunity to cross-examine you and your witnesses.
- Redirect — The alleged victim can then offer rebuttal testimony to anything you may have presented.
- Judge’s ruling — A judge will make a decision based on a preponderance of the evidence. This means that he or she could issue a final PFA order that provides all of the relief sought by the alleged victim even if your guilt was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
If a court grants a PFA, Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 23 § 6108 states that the order or agreement may include the following forms of relief for an alleged victim:
- Directing the alleged offender to refrain from abusing the alleged victim or minor children.
- Evicting the alleged offender from shared residence or household and granting possession of the shared residence or household to the alleged victim.
- If the alleged offender is the sole owner or lessee, ordering the alleged offender to provide suitable alternate housing to alleged victim and/or minor children living in the residence or household.
- Awarding temporary custody of or establishing temporary visitation rights with regard to minor children.
- Directing the alleged offender to pay financial support to those persons the alleged offender has a duty to support.
- Prohibiting the alleged offender from having any contact with the alleged victim or minor children.
- Ordering the alleged offender to temporarily relinquish to the sheriff his or her firearms, other weapons, and ammunition which have been used or been threatened to be used in an incident of abuse against the alleged victim or the minor children
- Prohibiting the alleged offender from acquiring or possessing any firearm for the duration of the order and requiring the alleged offender to relinquish to the sheriff any firearm license the alleged offender may possess.
- Directing the alleged offender to pay the alleged victim for reasonable losses suffered as a result of the abuse.
- Directing the alleged offender to refrain from stalking or harassing the alleged victim and other designated persons.
- Granting any other appropriate relief sought by the alleged victim.
Contacting the alleged victim or disregarding a custody provision are examples of PFA violations that can result in significant additional penalties for alleged offenders. Under Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 23 § 6114, contempt for violation of a PFA order or agreement is punishable by any of the following:
- Maximum fine of $1,000
- Up to six months in prison
- Extension of PFA order for an additional term
Find a Contempt of PFA Order Lawyer in Pennsylvania
While PFA orders in Pennsylvania genuinely provide much-needed safety for victims of domestic violence, there are still cases in which alleged victims exaggerate or manufacture claims in hotly contested divorce or child custody matters. If you have been served a PFA, you will want to have experienced legal representation looking out for your best interests and fighting to restore your good name.
Alva & Shuttleworth, LLC helps alleged offenders with these types of cases in Philadelphia County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, and New Jersey. You can call (215) 665-1695 right now to set up a free consultation that will let our contempt of PFA order attorneys see how we can help.