Pennsylvania Family Law and Divorce
Lisa Marie Vari & Associates, P.C.

PFA's in Allegheny County

By Lisa Vari on G+

Last year, former Governor and Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin required a "protection order" to guard her against vicious and continuous harassment. A polarizing figure, the former Governor of Alaska attracts a substantial amount of attention wherever she goes, and many people have very strong feelings about her. Sometimes, people can take those feelings (both positive and negative) too far, into the realm of criminal prosecution and Protection From Abuse.

18 year-old Shawn Christy of Pennsylvania allegedly made implied threats over the phone to Ms. Palin and her attorney, making threats of killing and raping Ms. Palin and one of her attorneys. Palin's Anchorage attorney, who also has an office in Fairbanks, reportedly received over 250 calls in a single day from Christy. He allegedly accompanied these threats, among others, by sending a receipt for a gun purchase. Palin was also concerned about his belief of the existence of a relationship between himself and her daughter Willow. An Alaska Magistrate Judge issued a 20 day Protective Order for Palin who was allegedly afraid for her life, and he ultimately was charged with various harassment charged, and pled guilty in Alaska.

If Christy had been subject to Pennsylvania law, instead of the law of Alaska, the "protection order" would not have been able to occur. In Pennsylvania, the only form of "restraining order" is a Protection from Abuse Order (PFA). A PFA can be issued against a parent, current or former spouse, child, and current or former sexual partner. A PFA is a civil order issued in response to domestic violence, which is initiated and can also be cancelled by the Petitioner. Some of the effects of a PFA can include a no-contact order, exclusive possession of the marital residence, and primary physical custody of children.

Sarah Palin, because she was not related or in an intimate relationship with her attacker, would have to progress through the criminal justice system in Pennsylvania. This would involve filing charges with the police and having the man be arrested and arraigned. While the effect is the same, Palin would not be able to go through the civil PFA process including filing a petition, going to a hearing, receiving a temporary Order, and if necessary a final PFA. Criminal charges are determined in criminal court, and decisions about whether or not to prosecute are made by the district attorney, unlike a PFA for which a person can individually Petition.

A PFA is a serious matter, and can have an impact on any other family law cases in which you are involved. Our experienced family lawyers are aware of the effects of a PFA, and how they can impact related divorce and custody actions. Therefore, contact our Pittsburgh divorce attorneys today to discuss a PFA as part of your family law matter!

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