Archive for August, 2017

Spotlight Issue: Expunging PFA’s

Monday, August 28th, 2017

What can you do to remove a Protection from Abuse Order (PFA) from your record? Your ability to expunge the PFA depends on how far in the process your case proceeded. Our attorneys are very familiar with the steps necessary to successfully expunge Berks County PFA’s. First, here is a summary of the Berks County PFA process:

- a plaintiff files a petition requesting a PFA

- an ex parte (just plaintiff and judge) petition hearing is held at which time the plaintiff gives details about the alleged abuse that has occurred the judge decides if there is immediate danger and grants a Temporary PFA if he or she finds that there is

- a Final PFA hearing is scheduled within 10 days of the petition hearing – at the final hearing the Plaintiff has to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that abuse (as defined by statute) occurred

- if a judge finds that abuse did occur, he or she can enter a Final PFA for up to 3 years and can include relief such as eviction, prohibition of contact, temporary custody provisions and a prohibition on possessing firearms

So, can you remove a PFA from your record? Well, the answer is pretty straightforward if your case never got to the Final PFA hearing. If a Temporary PFA was not granted at the petition hearing, or if your Temporary PFA was dismissed before the Final PFA hearing then the law is pretty clear that any mention of the case can be removed from most databases. This is also true if your case proceeded to a Final PFA hearing and the judge found that no abuse occurred and dismissed the PFA. A Final PFA entered by agreement or after a hearing is much more difficult to expunge and the court must employ a balancing test to determine when expungement is appropriate.

Many people don’t take advantage of the expungement process for PFA’s, but the only way to ensure that a non-final PFA doesn’t have a negative impact in the future is to completely remove it from your record. If a PFA was filed against you in Berks County and later dismissed, make sure that it doesn’t come back to haunt you unexpectedly. Call our Reading, PA PFA expungement attorneys to start the expungement process today at 610-372-5128 or email us at info@enmlaw.com.

ENM Law News: Custody case dismissed in favor of ENM Law client

Monday, August 28th, 2017

A client came to see Attorney McAllister about a custody case filed by the father of her child in Berks County in December of 2016. Attorney McAllister quickly filed objections to the case on our client’s assertion that the child had been living with her in New Jersey for more than 6 months prior to the filing of the custody action.

Why does that timeframe matter? The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, which governs child custody in almost all states is the U.S., determines where a custody action can be filed – this is called venue. A custody action can generally be filed in the child’s home county or the county where the child had previously been living if the child was still living there within 6 months of the commencement of proceedings and if a parent continues to live in that former county.

Once Attorney McAllister filed an objection to the custody case on the basis that the Berks County venue was not appropriate, the judge scheduled a hearing to take testimony from witnesses about when the child moved to New Jersey. After hearing the evidence, the judge determined that the child had in fact been living in New Jersey for more than 6 months prior to the commencement of the custody action and dismissed the case. Attorney McAllister’s experience and knowledge of custody law saved our client from having to travel to Berks County from New Jersey to defend against the custody case.

If a Berks County custody case has been filed against you, you need our knowledgeable Reading, PA custody attorneys to evaluate your case. Call us at 610-372-5128 or email at info@enmlaw.com.

ENM Law News: Dismissal of eviction case for commercial tenant

Friday, August 25th, 2017

Commercial tenants and landlords can have disagreements just like their residential counterparts. Disagreements can lead to eviction proceedings. Recently, a Berks County business owner came to Attorney McAllister because of a problem with a commercial lease. This client had signed a 2-year lease with the intention of running a hookah lounge in the building. After signing the lease, the client made many costly improvements to the property in an effort to upgrade the space and attract clientele. Only 3 months into the lease, the landlord tried to evict our client over complaints about loud music and too many people coming to the lounge. Our client stood to lose substantial amounts of money because of the improvements made to the property. The eviction case was scheduled for a hearing in front of a Berks County Magisterial District Judge. Attorney McAllister appeared on behalf of this client and argued that the lease had not been breached because the lease was silent on the complaints raised by the landlord. The MDJ agreed with Attorney McAllister and dismissed the eviction case which means that our client’s business can stay at its current location.

The eviction process for commercial leases is generally the same as those that most people are familiar with in residential leases. If a landlord for a commercial tenant believes that the lease has been breached either for failure to pay rent or failure to abide by the rules of the lease then he can take steps to evict the tenant. The eviction process begins with sending a Notice to Quit to the tenant which notifies the tenant of the alleged breach and sets a deadline for the tenant to vacate the premises. If the tenant does not fix the problem or leave the property then the landlord can file a complaint for eviction in magisterial district court.

If you’re a Berks County business owner having problems with your commercial lease, contact our knowledgeable real estate attorneys at 610-372-5128 or email us at info@enmlaw.com.