If you’re experiencing domestic violence or abuse in Pennsylvania, a Protection from Abuse (PFA) order can help provide you with legal protection. Here’s what you need to know about Pennsylvania’s restraining orders.
What is an Order of Protection from Abuse?
A protection from abuse order is a court order that aims to protect domestic violence or abuse victims. It prohibits the abuser from contacting, harassing, or harming the victim and can provide other protections such as exclusive possession of a home, custody of children, and financial support.
Who Can Get a Domestic Abuse Protection Order?
To be eligible for a restraining order in Pennsylvania, you must be a victim of domestic violence or abuse. This can include physical violence, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, stalking, and harassment. You can file for a PFA order against a current or former spouse, intimate partner, family member, or anyone you share a child with.
How to Get a Domestic Violence Protection Order
To obtain an order pertaining to Protective Orders, you’ll need to file a petition with the court. It can be done at the district court of either your home or the abuser’s, or where the abuse took place. Filing a PFA petition is free, and you do not need a lawyer to do so.
You can expect a judge to review your petition and possibly issue a temporary PFA order shortly after filing it. The judge will hold a hearing to decide whether or not to issue a permanent PFA order within 10 days.
Enforcing a restraining order against abuse
If the abuser violates the terms of a PFA order, you should immediately call the police. Violating a PFA order is a criminal offense and can result in the abuser being arrested and facing additional charges.
It’s important to keep a copy of the PFA order with you and share it with local law enforcement agencies. You can also ask that the order be entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) registry, which can help ensure that law enforcement in other states is aware of the order.
Seeking Legal Assistance
While you do not need a lawyer to file for a PFA order, it can be helpful to consult with a family law or domestic violence attorney. A lawyer can help guide you through the process, explain your rights and options, and help you obtain the best possible outcome.