Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

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Butler County PFA Lawyer

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.

PFA Law Increasing Protections For Minors

77005984Pennsylvania appears poised to expand its Protection From Abuse (PFA) law to include protections for minors who are victims of stalking and harassment.

Under current law, stalking and harassment victims who are minors cannot obtain a PFA unless their assailant is a current or former household member, family member, or former intimate partner. But what if the stalker does not fit into any of these categories?

A proposed amendment to the Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation Act would close this loophole. If signed into law by Gov. Corbett, the new protections will go into effect July 2015.

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

5 Common PFA Misconceptions

86505321Many people have misconceptions about Protection From Abuse (PFA) orders. As a result, they might accept a PFA instead of fighting it.  Or they might violate the PFA unknowingly, resulting in criminal charges. Protect yourself by reading Spivak Law Firm’s five most common PFA misconceptions:

Misconception #1: “It doesn’t matter if I get a PFA because I don’t want to see the plaintiff anyway.

Even if you don’t want to have contact with the plaintiff, we strongly advise you to contest the PFA. A PFA stays on the civil docket and can haunt you for years, especially if you seek a job that requires a background check. Protect your future by hiring an experienced PFA attorney to try to get the PFA vacated, withdrawn, or dismissed.

Misconception #2: “The PFA means we can’t contact each other.”

In fact, the PFA means the defendant cannot contact the plaintiff. But the plaintiff can contact the defendant because the PFA restricts the defendant only. If the plaintiff contacts you while the PFA remains in place, do not respond. The plaintiff could be setting a trap to get you arrested. The plaintiff may always seek to withdraw the PFA.

Misconception #3: “I won’t get in trouble for having somebody else tell the plaintiff to drop the PFA.”

A PFA is a no-contact order. No contact includes physical contact as well as phone calls, texts, emails, faxes, and regular mail. It also includes third-party contact. Instructing another person to give any message whatsoever to the plaintiff is a violation of the PFA that could result in criminal charges.

Misconception #4: “A PFA can’t be used to take my kids away.”

Plaintiffs sometimes misuse PFAs to gain leverage in child custody and divorce cases. Plaintiffs may temporarily receive sole custody of a child until the final PFA hearing, causing defendants to go weeks or even months without seeing their kids. Custody provisions are often included in final PFAs that stay in place indefinitely.

Misconception #5: The plaintiff can’t afford a lawyer so I don’t need to get a lawyer either.

In many Pennsylvania counties, including Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties, plaintiffs may receive a free lawyer regardless of income. In these counties, free lawyers are offered to all plaintiffs, not just low-income plaintiffs. Spivak Law Firm strongly advises defendants to hire an experienced PFA attorney to level the playing field.

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