If you are in an emergency situation and you need immediate help, call 911 for assistance.
Victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse can get a protection order under the Protection from Abuse Act. Pennsylvania has three types of civil protection orders. They offer relief from further harm to a victim from the perpetrator of their abuse or harassment.
You don’t have to report an incident to the police to file a civil protection order. If you are thinking about filing one, it might be beneficial to contact an attorney, legal services, and/or a local domestic violence or sexual assault advocacy program.Protection From Abuse Order (PFA)
A Protection From Abuse Order is issued in cases of sexual, physical, or psychological abuse when the defendant and victim are in one of these types of relationships:
- People who have lived or currently live as spouses
- Currently or formerly were spouses
- Household members and/or family related by blood (consanguinity)
- Sexual or intimate partners, current or former
- Household members and/or family related by marriage or affinity
A PFA may be filed no matter the ages of the people involved. Victims who are less than 18 years of age will need an adult (parent, adult household member, or legal guardian) to file for them. Filing for a PFA is free for the victim of abuse. The defendant generally ends up paying for all or part of the cost, with the county picking up the rest.
A PFA lists protections given to the victim. Generally, this is a list of things the abuser is not allowed to do. The list may contain items such as: no contact between the abuser and the victim, the abuser must return personal items to the victim, the abuser must move out of the house and live elsewhere, and more. If the abuser ignores or violates the items listed in the order, he or she has then broken the law and is subject to arrest. The consequences for violating a PFA are severe.Sexual Violence Protection Order (SVPO)
A Sexual Violence* Protection Order may be filed in cases that involve a victim and perpetrator who are not family, intimate partners, or sharers of a household, and never have been. These types of relationships are covered under an SVPO:
An SVPO may be filed no matter the ages of the people involved. Victims who are less than 18 years of age will need an adult (parent, adult household member, or legal guardian) to file for them.
*As defined in the Criminal Code, Title 18Protection From Intimidation Order (PFI)
A Protection From Intimidation Order may be filed in stalking* and harassment* cases, where the victim and perpetrator are not family, intimate partners, or sharers of a household, and never have been AND the defendant is above the age of 18 AND the victim is younger than 18. PFIs are not allowed in cases where there are two minors, a minor is stalking or harassing an adult, or there are two adults.
A PFI may be filed no matter the ages of the people involved. Victims who are less than 18 years of age will need an adult (parent, adult household member, or legal guardian) to file for them.
*As defined in the Criminal Code, Title 18How to File a Civil Protection Order
To file a PFA, an SVPO, or a PFI, you must do so at the Court of Common Pleas Family Division. Each county has its own procedures in place for this. Most allow you to do the filing yourself, or with the aid of an attorney or other legal services.
For more information or a free consultation, call Sean Logue and his associates at Logue Law: (412) 612-2210 or (412) 612-2210. Or, you may contact us online. Logue Law Group serves the Pittsburgh, PA area, West Virginia, and Ohio.
To find additional resources about civil protection orders, visit Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape Website or Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence Website.