The state of Pennsylvania takes Domestic Violence Acts seriously. It does not have a separate charge for it but clubs it with other criminal charges like stealing, drug abuse, etc. There is a disturbing rise in the incidents of domestic violence in the state which is why the laws have become stricter than before. Being charged with Domestic Violence is a terrible event. It is not only emotional but traumatic. Your whole life gets reshuffled in a not-so-nice way. The main factor to be kept in mind is to be well-informed. Any kind of wrong actions on your part may result in penalties and punishments. Logue Law Group has assembled all information necessary to cruise smoothly through domestic abuse charges.Basics of a PFA OrderWhat Are a Plaintiff and a Defendant?
The one who goes to file a domestic abuse charge is the plaintiff. He/She will be the one whom the PFA order will protect. On the other hand, the defendant is the one who is allegedly accused of domestic violence. He/She will become the restricted party. When the plaintiff files the PFA order against you, you become the ex-parte which means your presence is not required for the order to be filed.Is the PFA Order Civil or Criminal?
By nature, the PFA is a civil matter. If the alleged accuser does file a PFA order against you, it would not be criminal unless there are domestic violence charges in you. When a PFA is accompanied with Domestic Abuse charges it becomes criminal in nature.
The PFA does not fall under the criminal jurisdiction of Pennsylvania but once you violate the terms of it, you can face maximum penalties and jail time.Who Can File a PFA Order Against You?
Pennslyvania regards PFA for those involved in "domestic relationships". These relationships may include-
- Common-law spouse
- Your parent, your non-minor child, or anyone related to you by blood
- An in-law or anyone related to you by marriage
- A current or former intimate partner
- Someone you share biological parenthood of a child over (the father or mother of your child)
The state is strict with PFA orders. A good Pittsburgh PFA Lawyer will advise you to not violate the terms and work with the court to minimize the punishments. However, these are the penalties involved-
- You can be charged with a $1000 penalty.
- Serving six to eight months prison time is a possible consequence.
- The PFA order can see a possible extension if you are found violating it or troubling the protected party.
- Any kind of weapons, ammunition, firearms, used to threaten or harass the protected party will be immediately confiscated. You might also not be able to use a firearm for the next five years.
- An experienced Pittsburgh PFA Lawyer will suggest you not act aggressively towards the protected party. The main concern of a PFA issued to take care that the protected party is not harassed in any which way. If you maintain good behavior in court, it will be easier for your defense lawyer to minimize charges.
- A PFA order must be read immediately and with a skilled Pittsburgh Domestic Violence Lawyer. All that you need to go is mentioned in the papers. Act according to the papers. Vacate the house immediately, go zero contact with your spouse and/or children, etc. If you do not act as per the papers, it will be used against you in courts as an act of violation.
- A PFA order comes to effect almost immediately after it is issued and lasts for 10 days after which the judge decided the next course of action. Do not for one second think that you can take small steps. Hire a defense attorney, work out a plan and get to work as soon as possible. Time is what you do not have when a PFA order is issued!
- Many accused make the mistake of ignoring and/or neglecting an order. If you have an experienced attorney on board, he/she will advise you against it. The PFA order is made to take immediate action so do not make the mistake of ignoring it. Otherwise, a temporary PFA will turn into a permanent one causing more troubles in your life.
- Never under any circumstance contact the protected party. The PFA has been made keeping in mind restrictions and zero-contact policies. Sometimes partners think that establishing contact with the accuser will save them from punishments, instead, it will do more harm than good. The court will find you guilty of violating the charge and enforce penalties and jail time on your record.
- If you have any communication recorded of you and the protected party, save it for your Pittsburgh Domestic Violence Lawyer. He/She can use it to your advantage in court. It is necessary to keep calm before you go to the court and remember all details between you and the accuser. If there's any evidence found which will make your side stronger, you will not be penalized.
- There are many ways that a witness can turn the proceeding in your favor. On your own, you would not know how to use a witness and the court might not consider it. Choose an experienced defense attorney who understands all the requirements of your case. He/She will make sure that your witnesses are used to your favor.
If you are not ready or are waiting for evidence/witnesses to turn up, consult your lawyer and ask for a date change. The court considers a hearing date change for valid reasons. Going unready to the court for a PFA hearing might prove detrimental to you. Instead, change the date, consult your lawyer, and have a smooth hearing.
In any case, it is necessary to hire the services of a skilled lawyer who has defends other clients like you. Attorney Sean Logue provides the best defense in Pittsburgh and West Virginia areas. He has been working as a defense lawyer for many years and has lifted the weight of penalties from many shoulders in a PFA case. Contact him at (412) 612-2210 to get the best guidance in PFA cases.