Protection from Abuse Defense Attorney

Pennsylvania Protection From Abuse Defense Attorney

A protection from abuse (PFA) order, Pennsylvania’s version of a restraining order, limits contact between two people and is an emergency attempt to stop domestic violence.  While it is meant to be temporary, it can last up to three years and affects many rights including parental rights, the right to possess a firearm, and the right to reside in your own home.  Thus, if a PFA order is entered against you, you need a defense attorney to protect your rights.

The defense attorneys at Foreman & Caraciolo, P.C. challenge a PFA order at every step of the proceeding.  Whether you have been served with a PFA order, or whether you are accused of violating an existing order, you need someone to stand up for you in court. Contact us to schedule a free initial consultation regarding protection from abuse defense.

Understanding the PFA Process

The Protection From Abuse Act, found in Title 23, Section 6101 et. seq. was enacted to protect individuals from abuse from a family or household member, a sexual or intimate partner or a person who shares a biological parenthood. The abused individual begins the PFA process by filing a petition with the Court of Common Pleas.  In this petition, the plaintiff – the person claiming abuse – sets forth statements of facts alleging an abuse as defined in the statute.  This can include both present and past allegations of abuse and may include the threat of abuse under certain limited conditions.  A temporary PFA will be entered based on the facts alleged in the petition alone, without any communication with the defendant.  The court will assume that all the facts alleged in the petition are true and enter a temporary order if the individual is in immediate danger and if the facts amount to abuse as defined in the statute.

Within ten business days from the date the petition was filed, a hearing must be held in which the plaintiff must prove his/her case and the defendant must be given an opportunity to defend against the allegations.

A defendant may decide to enter into a consent decree rather than have a hearing.  This is where he/she agrees to have no contact or only limited contact with the plaintiff for a set period of time.  A consent decree can include other limitations as the two parties agree, but is not an admission to any of the facts alleged in the petition.  However, a PFA by consent includes the same consequences as a PFA granted after hearing and should not be entered into without great consideration to the collateral consequences and potential for violation.  For this reason, it is important that you speak with an attorney prior to consenting to a Protection From Abuse Order.

If a PFA order is entered, and you are alleged to have violated the PFA, that violation, now called an indirect criminal contempt, is handled by a District Attorney.  However, there is no right to a trial by jury and in many counties, the case is heard by the same judge who handled the initial PFA matter.  The penalty for violatin of a PFA is often incarceration and might include confinement pending a hearing before a Judge!

Consequences of a PFA

If a PFA is entered, you can lose property rights, such as the right to reside in your own home.  You can lose constitutionally protected rights, such as the right to bear arms.  Your parental custodial rights can be severely limited or terminated altogether.  If a PFA is granted, and you violate the PFA, you can be subject to criminal penalties such as incarceration.  You may also be subject to civil consequences for contempt of a court order.  A PFA can be in place for up to three years.

Experience. Knowledge. Skill.

When the stakes are this high, you don’t want to take the PFA order lightly. We provide personalized legal advice depending on your situation. We evaluate all of the consequences that may occur and will aggressively work to fight the issuance of a PFA order.

If an order has already been issued, we will protect your child custody and visitation rights to see your children. We also handle Indirect Criminal Contempt hearings (ICC) if you’ve been charged with violating a no contact order or PFA order.

With more than 50 years of experience, we understand how to prepare a strong protection from abuse defense for you. Contact the skilled protection from abuse defense lawyers at Foreman & Caraciolo. We serve clients in Central Pennsylvania including Harrisburg, Cumberland, York, Lancaster, Lebanon and Perry counties