Domestic Violence: Contempt of PFA Order
“PFA order” is short for Protection from Abuse order. It is a court order given to victims of domestic violence against their abusers, and is meant to keep the abuser away from the victim, ensuring the victim’s safety. Many times, an alleged domestic violence offender will disagree that domestic abuse occurred, but he or she still must obey the PFA. To refuse to follow the terms of the order results in arrest and some pretty harsh consequences.
Often, the supposed offender against whom a PFA is given must leave his or her home and be restricted in when, where, and how he or she can see their children. This leaves the person feeling that the order was unfairly given and tempts them to ignore it. To do so, however, will result in facing criminal charges and steep penalties.Types of Protection From Abuse Orders
There are three kinds of Protection from Abuse orders, all with different time frames and different processes required for acquisition:
- An Emergency Protection from Abuse Order is issued by a judge in a magisterial district who is on-call, and is granted if he or she feels that the alleged victim is in imminent danger. These kinds of orders require no evidence and generally only last until the next business day, at which time the victim can ask for an Ex Parte Temporary PFA order.
- An Ex Parte Temporary Protection from Abuse Order is also a temporary one, but it stays in effect until a court hearing is completed. This order is based on the quality and amount of evidence the victim provides. At the hearing, the alleged abuser presents his own evidence and gives a statement. If the evidence calls for it, a Final Protection from Abuse Order is issued. The hearing is usually held ten business days or less from the issuance of the Ex Parte Temporary PFA order.
- A Final Protection from Abuse Order generally lasts three years. It can be either appealed or extended during that time frame. At the final hearing, both the alleged victim and the alleged offender are allowed to call witnesses, testify, and provide evidence.
The following is a list of protections for the alleged victim which may be attached to the PFA order, and which an alleged abuser is expected to obey:
- Offender required to pay restitution to victim for medical bills, attorney fees, relocation costs, or lost income related to the abuse.
- Offender removed from shared home.
- Offender prohibited from buying or otherwise acquiring new pistols or other firearms.
- Offender ordered not to stalk, harass, or abuse his victim, minor children, or relatives.
- Offender required to give up ammunition, weapons, and firearms to police.
- Possession of shared home granted to victim.
- Offender required to financially support victim
- Offender required to provide suitable housing to victim.
- Custody rights of victim’s minor children awarded temporarily.
A person who is charged and convicted of violating a Protection from Abuse order faces one or more of the following penalties:
- Extension of PFA Order
- $1,000 fine
- Confiscation of any weapons, ammunition, or firearms that were used or threatened to be used in either the violation of the order or in previous abuse
- Jail sentence of up to six months
If you or a loved one has been charged with a PFA order violation in the Pittsburgh area, you need an attorney who understands the ins and outs of the family court system and who is dedicated to getting you a good outcome. Sean Logue and his associates at Logue Law are criminal defense attorneys with the experience and tenacity that you require. They can be reached at 1-844-PITT-DUI or 412-389-0805. Or, you can contact them online here. They offer free Initial consultations. Logue Law serves the Pittsburgh, PA area, as well as West Virginia and Ohio.