Protection From Abuse Hearings

Protection from Abuse orders are issued by a judge as a means of protecting a person and/or his or her children from abuse perpetrated by a biological parent, a household or family member, or a person with whom someone shares an intimate or sexual relationship.

If you have been served with a PFA, it is vital that you hire a competent attorney, one such as Pittsburgh Criminal Defense Lawyer Sean Logue, right away. Things happen quickly in these cases, and for the best outcome, you need to build your defense as soon as possible.

Types of PFAs

The first PFA assigned is generally an Emergency Protection from Abuse Order. This order is issued by the magisterial district judge in the district of residence of the victim and is designed to last only overnight. No evidence must be shown for it to be granted, and no statement is required from the alleged abuser. All that is needed is for the judge to believe the victim is in “immediate and present danger.” This order will require an alleged abuser to stay away from the victim for the duration of the order, which is usually the next business day. That day, there will be a hearing and an ex parte protection from abuse order is typically requested.

An Ex Parte Protection from Abuse order is only granted if the victim (also known as the plaintiff) is able to show a clear, present, and immediate danger to him or herself and their minor children with convincing evidence. This PFA is a civil order, so the burden of proof is lower, but the evidence must demonstrate that the victim’s claims are most likely true.

At the hearing at which the ex parte PFA order is issued, an additional hearing will be scheduled. This one will take place within 10 days, and will be the opportunity for both alleged victim and alleged abuser to give evidence that will either grant or deny a final protection from abuse order.

Final Protection from Abuse order is generally granted for up to three years. It can be appealed at any time, but will be issued if the alleged victim can prove his or her claims. This is the opportunity for the alleged abuser to bring forth evidence that the incident leading to the PFA was not, in fact, abuse.

PFA Consequences

As with any legal order, there are certain things that are required of the alleged offender, most of which are not pleasant. In the case of a PFA, the following are required by law:

  • Loss of custody of children
  • Removal of alleged abuser from the home he or she shares with the victim
  • Requirement for alleged abuser to provide a home to the alleged victim that is suitable to his or her needs
  • Possession of the home shared with the victim granted to the victim
  • Being ordered to not stalk, harass, or abuse the alleged victim and his or her minor children
  • Financial support paid by alleged offender to alleged victim
  • Restitution to alleged victim for medical bills, cost of moving house, loss of earnings, attorney and counseling fees, and other expenses
  • A black mark against the alleged offender that can prevent him or her from gaining visitation and/or custody in the future
  • Requirement to surrender firearms and other weapons, and being prevented from purchasing new ones

If a person violates a protection from abuse order, he or she will be charged with criminal contempt. This can mean spending six months in jail and paying fines of up to $1,000.

Sean Logue can Help

Trying to defend yourself against abuse charges can lead to the loss of your rights, to custody of your kids, your right to bear arms, and more. It is vitally important that you hire an attorney who is knowledgeable and familiar with the court system and protection from abuse orders. Sean Logue has years of experience. Call him any time, day or night, at (412) 612-2210. He can also be reached online.

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