In 1990, the Pennsylvania legislature has passed the Protection from Abuse Act. The aim of the act is to protect the victims of domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault. This is a civil order that is also known as a restraining order. However, PFA order in Pennsylvania offers more protection.Protection From Abuse Order Process
The plaintiff can get the temporary PFA order that will provide them protection from the abuse. The plaintiff can get an emergency PFA order and/or ex parte PFA order. For both of these orders, the judge will assume that the plaintiff’s accusations are right.
"The order shall remain in effect until modified or terminated by the court after notice and hearing.
The court may also order that the police confiscate any guns or firearms you own or possess if the plaintiff's petition demonstrates:
- Abuse which involves a firearm or other weapon.
- An immediate and present danger of abuse. In determining whether an immediate and present danger of abuse exists, the court shall consider a number of factors, including, but not limited to:
- Whether the temporary order of protection from abuse is not likely to achieve its purpose in the absence of such a condition.
- Whether the defendant has previously violated a protection from abuse order.
- Whether past or present abuse to the plaintiff or any of the plaintiff's minor children resulted in injury.
- Whether the abuse occurred in public.
- Whether the abuse includes:
- threats of abuse or suicide;
- killing or threatening to kill pets;
- an escalation of violence;
- stalking or obsessive behavior;
- sexual violence; or
- drug or excessive alcohol use."
23 Pa. Stat. § 6107(b).
When you will get the notification of the PFA order, the court will notify you about the date of the final hearing. You will also be advised about
- Your right to retain and be represented by the counsel
- Your right to produce evidence
- Right of compelling the witnesses and how will that happen
- Whether the court will make you give up your firearms.
"The court shall, at the time the defendant is given notice of the hearing, advise the defendant of the right to be represented by counsel, of the right to present evidence, of the right to compel attendance of witnesses, of the method by which witnesses may be compelled, of the possibility that any firearm, other weapon or ammunition owned and any firearm license possessed may be ordered temporarily relinquished, of the options for relinquishment of a firearm pursuant to this chapter, of the possibility that Federal or State law may prohibit the possession of firearms, including an explanation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8) (relating to unlawful acts) and 18 Pa.C.S. § 6105 (relating to persons not to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms), and that any protection order granted by a court may be considered in any subsequent proceedings under this title. "
23 Pa. Stat. § 6107(a).Hearing for the Final PFA Order
The final hearing of the PFA order is the most crucial phase. This is the only opportunity where you, the defendant, will get a chance to tell your side of the story. The judge will listen to both the parties and get evidence and witness from both and then will come to a decision. In this hearing, the plaintiff will have the burden of truth. They will have to show that the relation of the plaintiff and the defendant qualifies for the order, the incident of the domestic violence has happened and there is still a looming threat of more danger. The people who will qualify for this can be:
- Current or former spouse
- Intimate partner
- Member of the same family by blood or by marriage
- Parents and kids
- Those who share a child together
For proving the fact that there is still danger for the plaintiff, he or she can produce many evidences. This can include the police or court records, photos of injury any kind of message like email, text and so on. The plaintiff can also bring witness to testify for the fact and the history of abuse in your relationship.
In this stage, the judge will consider your prior history that will help them determine whether there is any chance of future risk for the plaintiff and their child. The facts that will be considered are:
- Any prior PFA order against you
- History of getting arrested
- Conviction for domestic violence in the past
- History of conviction for alcohol and drug abuse including DUI and selling substance
- History of child abuse or negligence
The plaintiff might also bring hearsay witness who will testify against you as the defendant outside court to increase the credibility of the charges. Even though the court might not allow the hearsay witnesses but it can if you are not defended by an experienced Pittsburgh PFA lawyer. The lawyer will successfully represent you in the court and help you get the rightful justice.Connect With Pittsburgh PFA Lawyer
At Logue Law Group, our Pittsburgh PFA lawyer will help you understand PFA order and what you should not do, especially if you have any prior conviction. Connect with us and get the justice you deserve with your rights protected.