Here are the answers to some questions that clients frequently ask me about Protection From Abuse (PFA) cases. These FAQs are provided for general information only and should not be relied on as legal advice. For a consultation, please contact us.
A PFA, or “no contact” order, is a court order that prohibits a person (the Defendant) from having any contact with a specified person or persons (the Petitioner) for up to three years. A PFA prohibits physical contact, mail, telephone or electronic communications, as well as contact initiated through third parties. It also prohibits the Defendant from possessing or purchasing firearms or other weapons while the PFA is in place.
A PFA can be obtained by a person who has been abused or put in reasonable fear for of bodily injury by a current or former intimate and/or sexual partner (including a spouse), or a member of the filer’s household. The person filing the PFA petition can also file on behalf of minor children and other family members who have been victims of domestic violence at the hands of the Defendant.
If you are a victim of actual or threatened physical abuse, you can obtain an emergency PFA order at anytime by contacting your local law enforcement and/or domestic violence shelter. The emergency PFA will usually be issued by a District Magistrate. The emergency PFA will prohibit the abuser from contacting you until the Court of Common Pleas holds a hearing on the issue. Once a hearing is held, the Court may issue a Final PFA, which will prohibit any contact for up to three years.
If you have been served with notice of a PFA filed against you, there could be serious consequences, and you should consider hiring an attorney. If a Final PFA order is entered against you, a “finding of abuse” can be placed on your permanent record for all to see. This can affect future employment, educational, business, and residential rental opportunities. Further, a PFA severely restricts your right to own, possess, or purchase firearms and other weapons.