The Pennsylvania Protection from Abuse Act is designed to protect primarily women and children from abuse in all intimate relationships whether married or not. In short, Protection from Abuse Orders are referred to in practice as PFA’s. The Act requires that sexual activities take place between the man and woman involved in the abuse in order to qualify for an Order of Protection.
According to the Act, abuse is defined as:
(1) intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury;
(2) placing another in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury;
(3) the infliction of false imprisonment;
(4) physically or sexually abusing minor children; and
(5) knowingly engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts toward another person including following the person, without proper authority, under circumstances which place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury.
The goal of the Act is not to punish the alleged abuser, but to prevent physical and sexual abuse. Therefore, the victim does not have to actually suffer physical or sexual harm. It is enough to show reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury through the actions of the abuser.
In order to obtain a PFA, the victim must file a petition with the Court alleging abuse. This requires the victim to go to the Family Courthouse in the local county.
After filing the petition, the victim will receive a temporary PFA. If this is not offered to you, make sure that you ask for one. The temporary order will allow the victim to set boundaries between herself, and any minor children, and the abuser. This is a binding order that usually at least requires no contact between the parties. If the abuser violates this temporary order, he may be found in criminal contempt for violating a Court Order.
Within ten days of the filing, the court must hold a formal hearing to determine the continued need for a permanent PFA. Here, the victim(s) must prove the allegations of abuse. The parties may agree on a final order, or the parties my allow a court to draft a final order. There are special provisions relating to the abuser’s rights to continue to own guns, so that is something that the victim must consider. Finally, a PFA may last up to three years.
If you, or someone you know, is in an abusive situation and needs some protection, I am always available to assist with this action. In times of such fear and emotion, it is important to have an unbiased third person trained in the area to make sure you are fully protected from future abuse.
Call 412-209-0657 and ask for Matthew Becker.