At its best the Protection From Abuse Act in Pennsylvania can help save victims of abuse from those who wish to do them harm. At it’s worst, a PFA can be used as a weapon by a vindictive husband or wife, or boyfriend or girlfriend. Unfortunately, on many occasions the filing of a PFA will be the first volley by one side in anticipation of a divorce or custody case. Often the person who finds themselves defending themselves in a PFA case is already placed at a disadvantage when it comes to child custody proceedings by virtue of the fact that there are allegations of abuse or other wrongdoing.
That said, it is extremely important to engage the services of an attarney if you are hit with a Protection from Abuse petition. You will receive a Notice of Hearing along with your order listing a date which you and the PFA Plaintiff are to appear in front of as a Judge. At the hearing the plaintiff is required to show by a preponderance of the evidence that abuse occurred and that the Plaintiff fears harm at the hands of the Defendant. Each party would be permitted to testify and the Judge would ultimately decide if there was enough evidence to enter a permanent Protection Order.
A PFA can take many things away from a Defendant. If you shared a residence with the Plaintiff you can be evicted from that residence. If you have children with the Plaintiff, you can be prohibited from contact with your children. If you are a hunter or gun owner, you can have your weapon taken from you. The order can remain in effect for up to three years.
Make no mistake, a PFA Defendant is not a Criminal Defendant. You do not get convicted, you do not go to jail, you are not on probation (unless you subsequently violate the PFA, of course). On the other hand, you can have many important things taken away from you.
If you are facing a PFA petition in Berks County, PA you should contact our office immediately for a no cost consultation. We consistently obtain favorable resolutions for our clients in these cases. And, if your PFA case is the beginning of a long child custody or divorce battle, you will have comfort in knowing that we can continue to counsel and serve you in those matters as well.