Pennsylvania’s protection from abuse (PFA) order limits contact between individuals to try to stop domestic violence. Although this is supposed to be a temporary order, it can stay effective for up to 3 years. This order can impact a lot of rights including parental rights, the right to live in one’s house, and the right to possess a firearm. Thus, if you have been served with this order, you must hire a protection from abuse attorney in PA to preserve your rights. A reliable lawyer can challenge a PFA order at each step of the proceeding and stand up for you in court.
How the PFA Process Works
To start the PFA process, an abused person will file a petition with the court. The petition must state the facts that allege abuse as the statute defines. A temporary PFA is entered based on the facts the petition alleges alone, without communication with you. Because the court assumes the petition’s alleged facts are true, it enters a temporary order if the petitioner is in immediate danger. Also, the facts should amount to abuse as the statute defines for an order to be made.
You can decide to enter into a consent decree instead of having a hearing. If you choose this route, you agree not to contact or limit your contact with the complainant for a specific period. The decree can include other limitations that both parties may agree on; however, consenting to the order does not mean you admit to the facts the petition alleges. It is important to keep in mind though that a PFA by consent includes similar consequences as a PFA granted following a hearing and can be entered into without considering the collateral consequences and the possibility of violation. Because of this, you must consult with a lawyer before you consent to a PFA order.
What to Expect when a PFA is Entered
A PFA order can have you losing property rights like the right to live in your house. Also, you can lose the right to bear arms. The order can seriously limit or even terminate your parental rights. If the petitioner is granted a PFA, and you violate the order, you can be incarcerated. Indeed, you can be held in contempt. Thus, if the stakes are high, you should take the order seriously. An experienced attorney can give personalized legal advice that fits your unique situation. They will assess the possible consequences and work to fight the PFA order’s issuance.