Protection From Abuse Orders (PFAs)

Pennsylvania statute Title 23 Chapter 61 offers relief from abuse by spouses, former spouses, parent of a child, current or former sexual or intimate partners, children of either party, family member related by blood or marriage or affinity, and siblings.

What is abuse?

Different people define abuse differently so it is important to understand what types of behavior are actually covered under this type of action.  Pennsylvania law defines abuse as follows:

(1)  Attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury, serious bodily injury, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault or incest with or without a deadly weapon.

(2)  Placing another in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury.

(3)  The infliction of false imprisonment pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. § 2903 (relating to false imprisonment).

(4)  Physically or sexually abusing minor children, including such terms as defined in Chapter 63 (relating to child protective services).

(5)  Knowingly engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts toward another person, including following the person, without proper authority, under circumstances which place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury. The definition of this paragraph applies only to proceedings commenced under this title and is inapplicable to any criminal prosecutions commenced under Title 18 (relating to crimes and offenses).

Do I need an attorney?

You are not required to be represented by an attorney to file a Petition for Protection From Abuse.  However, if you believe you need protection you should contact an attorney to review the facts of your situation to determine whether or not you should file a Petition for Protection from Abuse.  Filing a Petition for PFA that is unsuccessful can have negative consequences that you should consider.  Determining whether to file a Petition for Protection From Abuse that has a likelihood of being successful involves a thorough analysis of the circumstances and past behavior which should be done through the aid of an experienced attorney.

Relief Available

Under PA law, if you are being abused, you may be able to receive relief by way of a Temporary Order and then a Final Order after a hearing or negotiated agreement between the parties. Relief available includes but is not limited to the following: (1) prohibiting your abuser from abusing, harassing, stalking, threatening or attempting to threaten to use physical force against you any place where you are found; (2) prohibiting your abuse from having any contact with you and other protected persons, (3) having your abuser evicted and excluded from your home, workplace, school or other location; (4) custody of your children; (5) payment by your abuser for any damages caused by their abuse; (6) forfeiture of your abusers firearms; (8) prohibiting your abuser from purchasing/possessing firearms; (9) ordering your abuser to pay legal fees; and (10) in some cases ordering your abuser to pay temporary support.

What if someone filed a false PFA against you?

You should seek advice from an attorney immediately.  Having a Temporary or Final PFA Order entered against you could impact your employment, your right to possess firearms and/or your custody matter and exposes you to risk of a criminal charge if the Order is violated.  An experienced attorney can not only represent you at a PFA hearing, but also will thoroughly assess your circumstances and provide the critical skilled analysis necessary to formulate a plan on the best way to proceed in your case.

    If you are in an emergency situation, call 911 immediately.
    If you have questions about PFAs or are in need of a PFA attorney in Chester County, PA, please contact us to schedule a consultation: