Posts Tagged ‘Protection from Abuse attorney Berks County’

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.

Spotlight Issue: Protection from Abuse Order (PFA)

Monday, May 30th, 2016

The Protection from Abuse Act is designed to offer victims protection from a domestic abuser. The Act gives judges a wide variety of remedies to choose from in order to ensure that protection. A PFA case begins with the filing of a Petition. The Petition will include details of the abuse that allegedly occurred. Abuse for the purposes of a PFA is defined as the following acts:

- Attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury, serious bodily injury, rape, etc.

- Placing another in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury

- The infliction of false imprisonment

- Physically or sexually abusing minor children

- Knowingly engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts towards another person, including following that person, under circumstances which place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury.

**Note that actual injury is not required in order for a PFA to be granted.

The petitioner (person filing the PFA petition), or the protected party (if the PFA is filed on behalf of a minor) must have a one of the following types of relationships with the defendant:

- spouse or former spouse

- sibling

- parent or child

- other family member related by blood or marriage

- current or former sexual or intimate partner

A petitioner can ask that the defendant be prohibited from having any contact with the protected party and can request that the defendant be evicted and excluded from a residence and place of employment. A petitioner can also request that custody be granted in the PFA. Any custody terms in a PFA are temporary and can be superseded by an Order from a custody court. There are a variety of other requests that can be made in order to offer relief to the petitioner including the payment of child support and the return of personal property.

Once the Petition has been completed, it is presented to a Berks County Court of Common Pleas judge at a petition hearing. This is typically done without the involvement of attorneys and is done ex parte meaning that the defendant is not present for the hearing. The petition judge will grant a Temporary PFA if the petitioner shows an immediate and present danger of abuse.

If a Temporary PFA is granted, a hearing on the Final PFA will be scheduled within 10 business days. At this hearing, the petitioner must prove that abuse occurred by a preponderance of the evidence. The court will hear testimony from both the plaintiff and defendant and will make a determination. Both parties are entitled to be represented by counsel of their own choosing at the Final PFA hearing.

A Final PFA can be in place for up to 3 years and can include all of the forms of relief that are available under a Temporary PFA. While a PFA is a civil order, a violation of the PFA will lead to criminal Indirect Criminal Contempt (ICC) charges.

There is a lot at stake at PFA hearings including property and custody rights so it is in your best interest to be represented by a knowledgeable Berks County PFA attorney. Whether you have had a PFA filed against you or have filed a PFA in Berks County, contact our experienced PFA attorneys today at 610-372-5128 or email us at info@enmlaw.com.