By: Lisa Marie Vari
Our Pittsburgh Domestic Violence Attorneys counsel clients frequently related to Protection from Abuse Orders in Pennsylvania, commonly called "PFA's." These are court orders that are in place to stop abuse between spouses, significant others, and partners and serve to end future problems with abuse through the use of a civil protection order.
Although this is a civil order and is handled in civil court, this matter is enforced criminally. This means that if the order is violated, arrest is mandatory and the violator faces criminal sanctions in the form of imprisonment for up to six months, supervised probation, and a fine that can range anywhere from $300-$1,000.
The Pennsylvania Statute, or PFA Act, defines what type of relationship is required for a PFA, as well as what is considered "abuse" warranting a PFA.
"Relationship:" The statute requires a close relationship, but it does not require that the parties actually live together. The relationship between the parties must include one of the following:
Spouses or persons who have been spouses, persons living as spouses or who lived as spouses, parents and children, other persons related by consanguinity or affinity, current or former sexual or intimate partners or persons who share biological parenthood.
"Abuse:" The occurrence of one or more of the following acts is necessary to obtain a PFA in Pennsylvania:
•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.
•Placing another in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
•The infliction of false imprisonment pursuant to 18 Pa. C.S. § 2903 (relating to false imprisonment).
•Physically or sexually abusing minor children
•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.
Relief Granted by a PFA:
The Court can grant any appropriate relief sought by the Plaintiff in a PFA case. Some common forms of relief include directing the abuser not to abuse the victim or victim's minor children, excluding the abuser from the victim's residence, awarding temporary custody of minor children to the victim, directing the abuser pay spousal and/or child support to the victim, directing the abuser to have no contact with the victim or the victim's children, among many other things.
If you have questions about Protection from Abuse Orders, contact our Domestic Violence Lawyers today.