Attending a Protection From Abuse (PFA) hearing without an experienced attorney often proves disastrous for defendants. A PFA is a powerful tool that can evict you from your home, restrict your child-custody rights, and lead to your arrest based on a mere allegation of violating it.
In Pittsburgh and most surrounding counties, “victims” of domestic violence and child abuse get a “free” lawyer to help them obtain PFA orders.
But PFA defendants do not get a free lawyer. Many PFA defendants wrongly believe that they are entitled to a public defender. But a PFA is not a criminal matter, so public defenders generally cannot get involved.
A Final PFA Order will stay on your record for the rest of your life. It is a public record that may cause embarrassment, tarnish your reputation, and hurt your job opportunities.
Spivak Law Firm aims to provide the strongest possible defense 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 defense attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.
In Allegheny County, any person involved in a child custody dispute must enroll in Generations, an alternative dispute resolution program that includes an educational seminar and mediation session. To learn about the educational seminar, please click here.
The custody mediation session gives parents an opportunity to meet with a trained mediator to address issues related to meeting their child(ren)’s needs and to finalize a custody arrangement. Neither children nor attorneys participate in the mediation. Parents meet with a mediator for about two hours to discuss approaches to a successful parenting plan.
The goal of mediation is for parents to create their own custody plan, called a Memorandum of Understanding. Mediation is not therapy and does not include legal advice. Rather, the mediation process encourages adults to work together and to be responsible for their own parenting decisions.
Mediation sessions are confidential. The discussions during mediation cannot be recorded or copied. The mediator cannot be required to testify in court. Mediators are often attorneys or mental health professionals with advanced degrees, in addition to having basic and ongoing advanced training in mediation.
To speak with an experienced Allegheny County child custody attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.
A court uses several factors to determine the amount and type of bail it sets. Under Pennsylvania law, bail is security used to guarantee a person’s appearance in criminal court. A court may release you from jail on a Cash Bail, in which you must post the full amount of the face value of the bond, or a Percentage Cash Bail, in which you must deposit 10 percent of the face amount of the bond, or Release on Own Recognizance (R.O.R.) bond, in which you need not post any cash whatsoever.
In Allegheny County, the five main criteria used in the setting of bail are:
(1) The nature of the offense charged;
(2) Prior criminal history;
(3) Length of residence or community ties in Allegheny County;
(4) History of prior appearances in Court; and
(5) Whether or not the defendant poses a threat to the safety of the community.
To speak with an Allegheny County criminal attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.
A PFA is a court order that restricts the defendant from having any contact with the plaintiff. But the plaintiff can contact the defendant without violating the PFA. The Sheriff’s Department of Clarion County distributes a helpful flyer instructing defendants on what to do if they encounter their accusers, which we have reprinted here:
–If you see the plaintiff walking toward you on the street, cross the street, and go in a different direction.
–If you are eating dinner in a restaurant when the plaintiff walks in, you need to avoid any contact with him/her. Get up, pay the bill, and leave, if possible, without making the plaintiff aware of your presence or talking to him/her.
–If you are in a movie theater waiting to see a movie and the plaintiff walks in, get up and leave the theater.
–If the plaintiff calls and says to come over for dinner or to “work things out,” do not go. You should have hung up before all that information was given to you. Do not violate the PFA order by talking to the plaintiff, even when she/he called you.
–If the plaintiff calls you and you can repeat what she/he said, you have violated the PFA order. You should have hung up as soon as you recognized the person’s voice.
–If you receive an email from the plaintiff and respond to it, you have violated the PFA order. You should not send or respond to faxes or emails from the plaintiff.
–If you are told that the PFA order has been changed or vacated and you can have contact with the plaintiff, first check with the court that issued the order. Unless and until court personnel confirm that the order has been changed or vacated or you see a court paper confirming that information, do not have any contact with the plaintiff.
Spivak Law Firm provides strong, aggressive defense at PFA hearings in counties across Southwestern Pennsylvania, including: Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Washington County, and Westmoreland County. To make an appointment with an experienced PFA attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.
Applying for Social Security Disability? You better follow your doctor’s orders to have any chance of receiving SSD or SSI benefits. As stated in Spivak Law Firm’s 10 Tips for Winning: “Social Security routinely denies claims for benefits if people stop seeing their doctor, stop taking their prescribed medications, or continually fail to appear at scheduled doctor appointments.”
But what if your doctor’s recommendations do more harm than good?
Back problems represent the most common basis for approving Social Security Disability benefits. Doctors commonly recommend that patients with back problems receive spinal injections with a steroid medicine for relief. In 2011, some 5 million Americans received lumbar epidural steroid injections, according to the International Spine Intervention Society.
These are the same injections that have led to a fatal meningitis outbreak that has so far killed 7 Americans and left thousands potentially exposed.
Making matters worse, there is no evidence that steroid injections for back pain even works. A recent report in The New York Times states: “The Cochrane Collaboration, an international group of medical experts, reviewed the data last year and found there was ‘no strong evidence for or against’ the injections.”
The ongoing meningitis outbreak should serve as a wake-up call to Social Security. People seeking Social Security Disability should not be penalized for ignoring or rejecting a doctor’s recommendations – especially given that a doctor’s orders can prove lethal.
Spivak Law Firm proudly helps people nationwide win Social Security Disability benefits. We handle applications, appeals, hearings, and much more. To speak with an experienced Social Security Disability attorney, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.
Spivak Law Firm has been in the news a lot lately.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently published our column on how Pennsylvania law handles child custody matters in rape cases, just weeks after announcing the opening of our firm at West Liberty and Potomac avenues in Dormont, three miles from downtown Pittsburgh.
The Pennsylvania Bar Association publication At Issue is about to run our latest column on family law matters. Our previous article on Protection From Abuse (PFA) restraining orders in Allegheny County ran this past spring.
Patch.com, an online community news outlet, ran a profile of Spivak Law Firm that was featured in its Dormont-Brookline and Chartiers Valley editions. And just today, the Allegheny County Bar Association publication Lawyers Journal joined the others in announcing the opening of our firm.
Spivak Law Firm handles all matters involving Family Law, PFA Defense, Criminal Defense, DUI Defense, and Social Security Disability. To schedule an appointment, email us here or call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.
In Pennsylvania, any person who files a PFA restraining order gets a free attorney. But people who are served with a PFA do not. We strongly advise that you hire our experienced PFA attorney to strongly defend you and help level the playing field. In most cases, we get the PFA dropped.
Many people who are served with a PFA make the mistake of not taking it seriously. They may not show up for their hearing. Or they may choose to represent themselves at the PFA hearing. But a PFA has severe consequences that can haunt you for years like a criminal record. If you’ve been served with a PFA, you need to take it seriously.
If you fail to appear at your PFA hearing, a judge may hit you with a no-contact order lasting three years, the maximum penalty allowed under Pennsylvania law. You can be jailed for six months for violating any provision of a PFA order – even if your accuser is lying.
If you choose to represent yourself, you run the risk of being manipulated by your accuser’s attorney. Do not make the mistake of thinking that your accuser’s lawyer is looking out for your best interests. Only your own lawyer will do that.
Many cases of alleged harassment, stalking, and abuse simply do not rise to the level of a PFA. We know Pennsylvania PFA law and can defend you from false allegations and exaggerations. If you’ve been served with a PFA, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.
At Spivak Law Firm, we strongly defend people who are served with PFA restraining orders. We represent people who are accused of harassment, stalking, verbal threats, and physical abuse. In most cases, we get the PFA dropped.
Sometimes people ask us why we strongly defend people accused of abuse.
First, we know that many of our clients are falsely accused. People frequently misuse the PFA system to gain leverage in a divorce or child custody matter. We take great pride in protecting our clients’ reputations and legal rights against false accusations.
Second, in some cases, our clients may have engaged in inappropriate behavior that they regret. They did not physically hurt or beat anybody. But they got angry and made threats. Or they kept texting when their partner told them to stop.
These people may have crossed some line, as many people do at times. But their actions did not rise to the level of a PFA. We help these people get the PFA dropped so they can move on with their lives.
Third, in rare cases, our clients may be guilty of serious domestic violence. Such behavior is reprehensible, of course. But we believe that every person accused of legal wrongdoing is entitled to a strong defense.
In these cases, a PFA may be granted. But we are still able to help our clients by protecting their legal rights and mitigating the duration of the PFA.
If you’ve been served with a PFA, we will strongly defend you. Call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.