Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

Based in Pittsburgh, PA

412-344-4900

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Criminal Defense

Expungements v. Limited Access Orders

For decades, Pennsylvania offered virtually no relief for people convicted of misdemeanors and felonies to move beyond their criminal records and join the workforce.

Expungements were available only to people charged with crimes that were dismissed or withdrawn, or to people convicted of low-level summary offenses after a period of five years.

But now the Pennsylvania legislature has provided a new form of relief for people convicted of second- and third-degree misdemeanors through what are called limited access orders.

Unlike an expungement, a limited access order does not erase the information. Instead, it restricts employment agencies and internet websites from accessing any information relating to a conviction or arrest.

To determine if you are eligible for an expungement or limited access order, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

PFA: Economic Abuse

Economic abuse is a common tactic used by abusers to gain control and power in a relationship.

Economic abuse is present in 98 percent of abusive relationships, according to the National Network To End Domestic Violence.

Economic abuse includes methods of financial control such as withholding money, forbidding the victim from working, and controlling how all of the money is spent.

The effects of economic abuse can be devastating. In fact, 60 percent of domestic violence survivors reported losing their jobs as a direct consequence of the abuse.

Spivak Law Firm provides aggressive representation for plaintiffs and defendants in domestic-violence cases, including Protection From Abuse (PFA), Children Youth and Families (CYF), and criminal domestic violence.

To schedule a free consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

PFA Restricts All Contact

A Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order restricts you from having any contact with the person who filed against you.

No contact includes:

  • No face-to-face contact
  • No phone contact
  • No texting
  • No contact through social media
  • No passing messages through a third party

In fact, if you see the accuser in a public place, you are advised to immediately leave the area or risk getting arrested.

Spivak Law Firm routinely handles all matters involving PFAs, including: PFA hearings, PFA expungements, and PFA violations. To learn more, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Why Judges Grant Temporary PFA Orders

In Pittsburgh and surrounding counties, judges grant the vast majority of requests for Temporary Protection From Abuse (PFA) orders.

Judges issue Temporary PFA orders without ever hearing from the alleged perpetrator of abuse. There’s usually no evidence of abuse except for the alleged victim’s sworn testimony.

Judges issue the orders with full knowledge that they may completely turn the alleged perpetrator’s life upside-down by evicting them from their homes, restricting them from their children, and placing them at great risk for arrest if they’re even accused of violating the order by having non-threatening contact.

So why do judges grant more than 90 percent of Temporary PFA petitions?

It’s likely because judges opt to err on the side of caution. Domestic abuse is real, and no judge wants to deny a request for help that leads to physical violence. Unfortunately, innocent people often go through hell while awaiting their PFA hearings.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate, cost-effective representation at PFA hearings in Pittsburgh and all surrounding counties. Call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Domestic Violence and Brain Injuries

When it comes to long-term brain trauma, sports-induced injuries monopolize the conversation, while injuries suffered by victims of domestic abuse fall to the wayside. But Dr. Robert Cantu, an expert on football-related injuries, has revealed that many survivors of domestic violence could suffer from the same traumatic brain injuries as professional sports players.

“Experts believe many cases go undetected and untreated in abused women, making them vulnerable to problems with thinking, mood and behavior,” according to The Associated Press.

The article notes that “repeated blows [to the head] have been linked with a degenerative brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy … linked with memory loss, confusion, mood changes, and eventually dementia.” Dr. Robert Cantu added: “There are many women who have been abused enough that some of them probably have CTE.”

Spivak Law Firm handles all family law and criminal defense matters with a focus on domestic violence. For a free consultation call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Expungements: What Gets Erased?

A criminal record expungement erases all proof of arrest, charges, convictions, and hearings from the public record. But will an expungement necessarily lead to the destruction of all information related to your criminal history? Unfortunately, no.

Under Pennsylvania law, the following types of information continue to be maintained by criminal justice agencies even after an expungement order is granted:

-Intelligence information

-Investigative information

-Missing persons information

-Wanted persons information

-Stolen property information

-Medical treatment information

-Psychiatric treatment information

To learn more about the criminal expungement process, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

PFA Hearings: No Right To Jury Trial

If you’ve been served with a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order, we urge you to take it seriously. A PFA can take away your home, your job, your children, and even your liberty. A PFA can destroy your reputation and stigmatize you as an abusive person for the rest of your life.

A PFA is a civil matter determined by judges in family court. There is no right to a jury trial at a PFA hearing because it’s not a criminal matter, though a PFA can quickly and easily result in criminal charges if you’re merely accused of violating the order.

Under Pennsylvania law, there is no right to a jury trial except in criminal cases whereby conviction could lead to a jail sentence exceeding six months. The maximum penalty for violating a PFA is six months and a $1,000 fine.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong representation at PFA hearings. Based in Pittsburgh, we represent clients in Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Indiana County, Mercer County, Washington County, and Westmoreland County.

To schedule a free consultation with an experienced PFA attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Expungement Process

Maintaining a clean criminal record is crucial to obtaining housing, employment, or educational opportunities.

If you have a criminal record, you may be eligible to clear it if criminal charges against you were withdrawn or dismissed or five years have passed following conviction of a summary offense. This process is known as an expungement.

If you have charges or convictions eligible for expungement, the first step is requesting a criminal background check with the Pennsylvania State Police. Next, you file an expungement petition with the county where the incident took place. You must file separate petitions for each arrest incident.

If there is no objection by the district attorney, the petition is granted without a formal court hearing. The court then sends approval to your attorney. The court also notifies state police and other criminal justice agencies that will then clear your public criminal record.

Spivak Law Firm routinely handles expungement matters for a low, one-time fee, and keeps you updated at each stage of the case.

To speak with an experienced expungement attorney, call (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Spotting Signs of Abuse

Being able to tell the difference between a healthy relationship and an abusive relationship can be difficult.

You may be in an abusive relationship if your partner:

  • Exhibits an explosive temper
  • Inflicts physical pain in any way
  • Belittles you or puts you down
  • Checks your cell phones, emails or social networks without permission
  • Demonstrates extreme jealousy or insecurity

Spivak Law Firm helps victims of domestic violence get the legal protections they need at Protection From Abuse (PFA) hearings and by working with prosecutors on criminal domestic-violence cases. To schedule a consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Underage Drinking In Allegheny County

Underage drinking is illegal in Pennsylvania for people under age 21. But the law provides an exception for underage drinkers who seek medical attention for another.

If an underage drinker calls the police or campus safety to report another person in need of immediate medical attention to prevent death or serious injury, then the person who made the call cannot be prosecuted for underage drinking.

The purpose of this exception is to save lives without risk of criminal prosecution.

Spivak Law Firm handles all criminal-defense matters, including: summary trials, summary appeals, preliminary hearings, and criminal-record expungements. To speak with a Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.