The Standard of Proof of the PFA Order

In Pennsylvania, domestic violence is considered to be a serious charge against anyone. That is why, to protect people, the Pennsylvania legislature enacted the protection from abuse act in 1990. This is an act that has many regulations and prohibition that protects the victims from abuse in the house or within the family.

If someone has initiated a PFA order against you, the police will serve you the order along with the notice from the court. As per the law of Pennsylvania, "within ten business days of the filing of a petition under this chapter, a hearing shall be held before the court, at which the plaintiff must prove the allegation of abuse by a preponderance of the evidence." Pa. Stat. 23 § 6107. Your presence in the court is required as you surely don’t want the court to issue a default judgment without listening to your side of the story.

Standard of Proof at the Hearing of PFA

In the final PFA hearing, the plaintiff will have the burden of proof to prove that the domestic violence has happened. The judge must ensure that the relation of the plaintiff and the defendant is qualified as a domestic relationship and an act of domestic violence has happened.

Qualifying Domestic Relationship

The following relationships are the qualifying relationship for the PFA order:

  • Former or current spouse
  • The person you have a child with
  • Former or current dating partner
  • Family member
  • Parent and child
  • Family members related by blood or marriage
  • Same sex partners
What Happens When an Act of Domestic Violence Occurs

The plaintiff has the burden of proof that the incident of domestic violence has occurred. They can provide the following proofs:

  • The report of conviction of the defendant for domestic violence
  • With the medical records and photographs
  • Through the eyewitnesses and neutral witness
  • Through the testimony of the family members and relatives
Criminal Conviction

A criminal conviction is the biggest proof against the defendant. The PFA order considers a broad spectrum of event including bodily harm and injury, sexual assault, rape and indecent assault, incest, threatening the plaintiff of bodily injury, sexual and physical abuse of a minor, and so on. As per the definition of the PFA act, the abuse is “(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.A. § 2903; (4) Physically or sexually abusing minor children, including such terms as defined in Chapter 63; and (5) knowingly engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts toward another person, including following the person, without proper authority, under the circumstances which place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury.”

Medical and Physical Records

In case, the defendant is not convicted, the plaintiff can show the court the physical proof, medical reports and x rays that will prove that they have been assaulted.

Neutral Eyewitness and Objective Evidence

The plaintiff can bring in neutral eye witness and objective evidence like voice messages left on the phone, email, social media messages and text messages.

Hearsay Evidence

The plaintiff can introduce the family and friends who can testify that they witnessed previously abusive behavior by the defendant. Hearsay evidence can be collected outside the court and presented to the judge while the plaintiff doesn’t know about it.

Preponderance of Evidence

The plaintiff will be responsible to prove that the domestic relation qualifies for PFA and offer preponderance of evidence. This means that the incident is more likely to happen with the chances of 51%.

Connect With Pittsburgh PFA Lawyer

Come to Logue Law Group if you are facing the domestic abuse or you have been served with PFA order. Our experienced Pittsburgh PFA lawyer will take care of your case. For a free consultation, call us today.

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