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Butler County PFA Lawyer

How to Withdraw a PFA in Pennsylvania

83496541In Pennsylvania, a victim of domestic violence can get a Protection From Abuse (PFA) restraining order against the perpetrator lasting as long as three years. The PFA restricts the abuser from having any contact whatsoever with the victim, including contact by phone, email, text, social media, or third persons.

But what if the victim no longer thinks the PFA is necessary? Can the PFA simply be vacated or withdrawn? In many cases, the answer is yes, though counties have their own unique processes for making the PFA go away.

For instance, in some Pennsylvania counties, the victim needs to formally file a motion to vacate the PFA and present it to the court. In other jurisdictions, the victim may simply ask the court’s PFA administrator to fill out a form. In all cases, the victim should be prepared to explain to a judge why the PFA is no longer necessary. If the judge disagrees, the PFA may remain in effect whether the victim likes it or not.

To speak with an experienced Pennsylvania PFA lawyer, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

When Filing a PFA Petition May Be Improper

78629806You may not file a Protection From Abuse (PFA) petition:

–Against someone who is merely your neighbor or an acquaintance;

–To stop mental abuse, emotional abuse, or property destruction;

–To obtain a custody order or to resolve a custody dispute.

A PFA Order is a powerful tool for restricting an abuser from contacting his or her victim, but it is not appropriate in every circumstance.

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

3 Types of PFA Orders in Pennsylvania

133338146There are three types of Protection From Abuse (PFA) Orders:

  • Emergency PFA Orders are issued by a District Justice when the Court is closed during non-business hours. An emergency PFA Order expires at the end of the next business day for the Court.
  • Temporary PFA Orders are issued by the Court of Common Pleas until a final hearing can be held, which is scheduled within ten business days.
  • Final PFA Orders are entered as a result of an appearance before the Court where both parties have the chance to be heard by the Judge.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, aggressive representation for plaintiffs and defendants at PFA hearings in Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Indiana County, Washington County, and Westmoreland County.

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

 

Who Can File a PFA?

77005984Under Pennsylvania law, to file a Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order, there must be a current or former relationship between the victim and the abuser.

A relationship is defined as a spouse, ex-spouse, or persons who have lived like spouses; a current or former sexual or intimate partner; a parent or child; a brother or sister; or other persons related by blood or marriage.

If you are a minor under 18, a parent, guardian, or another adult household member may file on your behalf.

If you do not meet the relationship criteria above, a PFA Order cannot be entered.

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

PFA Orders Trump Right to Own Guns

145193216In Pennsylvania, Protection From Abuse (PFA) Orders obliterate a person’s constitutional right to possess firearms. A person served with a PFA is immediately ordered to:

–Relinquish to the sheriff any of the defendant’s firearms;

–Relinquish to the sheriff any other weapons or ammunition of the defendant that were used or threatened to have been used in an incident of abuse against the victim or the victim’s children;

–Relinquish any firearm license that the defendant may have;

–Not acquire or possess any other firearm for the duration of the PFA;

When relinquishment is ordered, the defendant must surrender any firearm, weapon, ammunition, or license ordered within 24 hours after service of the temporary PFA order or 24 hours after entry of the final PFA order.

The defendant has the option to relinquish for safekeeping to a third party, who has signed an Affidavit of accountability with the sheriff’s office.

Served with a PFA? We strongly defend your rights and reputation. Call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

9 Sweeping Powers of a PFA Order

BU010665A Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order is a very powerful tool. Under Pennsylvania law, a Court may grant any appropriate relief needed to bring about a cessation of abuse. The most typical provisions of a PFA are as follows:

(1)  direct the abuser not to abuse the victim or the victim’s minor children;

(2)  exclude the abuser from the victim’s residence where the abuser and the victim own or rent the residence together or where the victim owns or rents alone;

(3)  exclude the abuser from the victim’s residence where the abuser owns or rents alone, so long as the abuser and victim are married or have a child together;

(4)  award temporary custody of the minor children to the victim;

(5)  direct the abuser to pay spousal and/or child support to the victim;

(6)  direct the abuser to have no contact with the victim or the victim’s minor children, nor to go to where the victim or the children work or go to school, and not to harass the victim or the victim’s minor children or relatives;

(7)  direct the abuser to relinquish to the sheriff any of the defendant’s firearms;

(8)  direct the abuser to pay for reasonable losses suffered by the victim because of the abuse;

(9)  direct the abuser not to stalk the victim.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, aggressive representation for plaintiffs and defendants in PFA matters. To speak with an experienced PFA lawyer, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Violating A PFA Order Brings Criminal Charges

139378055Police may arrest a defendant without a warrant for violating a Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order based on probable cause even if the police did not witness the violation.

Probable cause may consist of verifying a valid PFA Order and the credible statement of the victim.

A Defendant who is arrested for violating a PFA Order will be arraigned on the charge of Indirect Criminal Contempt (ICC) by the magisterial district judge who has jurisdiction.

The burden of proof required in an ICC hearing is “proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” Punishment for violating a PFA Order is a maximum of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

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

Fight Back Against Allegations of Abuse

86505321Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for people to exaggerate, fabricate or outright lie to receive a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order. As a result, many innocent people are unfairly swept into the court system. Spivak Law Firm strongly defends such people and has an excellent record of success in getting bogus PFA orders dismissed.

But what if you did it? In other words, should a person who has perpetrated abuse under Pennsylvania law simply accept a three-year Final PFA? Or is it still worthwhile to retain an experienced PFA attorney and fight back against the charges?

At Spivak Law Firm, we recommend fighting back.

In cases where the evidence is stacked against our clients, we are still able to help them by protecting their child custody rights, safeguarding their property, limiting the duration of a PFA order, and advising them on moving forward with their lives. In many cases, we are successful in avoiding a Final PFA even where abuse occurred.

At Spivak Law Firm, we do not judge our clients. We advocate strongly for them. We understand that we all have done things for which we are not proud. We treat our clients with dignity and respect by making ourselves accessible and by striving to build the strongest possible defense in every case.

Served with a PFA? Call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Getting A Continuance In A PFA Case

77005984In most cases, Judges will allow at least one continuance in a Protection From Abuse (PFA) matter.

PFA hearings are generally scheduled within 10 days. The defendant in a PFA case should have no problem getting a continuance if he or she has not been timely served or needs additional time to retain an attorney.

Parties may be surprised when a Court won’t grant a continuance of a PFA hearing. Continuances are generally only granted for good cause. The plaintiff may not be entitled to a continued hearing date if the defendant is present and wants to go forward.

To speak with an experienced Pittsburgh PFA lawyer, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Introducing Evidence at Your PFA Hearing

702075.TIFMany Protection From Abuse (PFA) matters are “he said, she said.” Any supporting evidence, including other witnesses (especially non-related witnesses) and documentary evidence, can go a long way toward prevailing at the PFA hearing. If there are photos, emails, or text messages, make sure that they have been printed, as many judges are not willing to scroll through a party’s cell phone. If there is a voicemail, make sure you have a way for it to be played in Court.

If there is no other supporting evidence, the Court decides whether to grant the PFA based on which party’s testimony appears more credible. In other words, the Court may make a “gut decision” about who is telling the truth.

To learn more about how to prepare for your PFA hearing, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.