Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

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PFA Defense

Post-Gazette Features Spivak Law Firm

PFA Pic11The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has once again featured Spivak Law Firm on issues involving family law and criminal defense.

The P-G recently published the article, Impoverished Parents Deserve Their Day In Court, written by Rebecca Canterbury, who will begin work at Spivak Law Firm as an associate attorney in the fall.

Attorney Todd Spivak, the owner of Spivak Law Firm and a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, assisted with writing and editing the article for publication.

The Post-Gazette routinely features Spivak Law Firm, publishing several articles of important legal commentary on child custody and Protection From Abuse (PFA) laws in Pennsylvania.

In Crack Down On Domestic Violence In Allegheny County, Attorney Spivak calls on Allegheny County to let specialized judges with extensive domestic-violence training oversee all PFA hearings.

In Improve Pennsylvania’s Domestic-Abuse Law, Attorney Spivak exposes the issue of bogus PFA orders and recommends ways to curb abuses in the system.

In Child Custody For Rapists, Attorney Spivak explains how rapists use family court to harass and intimidate their victims. Since the article’s publication, the Pennsylvania Legislature has taken action to safeguard the custody rights of rape victims.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate, cost-effective representation in all family law and criminal defense matters. Call us at (412) 344-4900.

Strong Defense at PFA Hearings

702075.TIFAttending 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.

PFA Hearings Present Many Challenges

PFA Pic1Under Pennsylvania law, a person served with a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order is entitled to a hearing within 10 days. The PFA hearing represents the defendant’s first and most important opportunity to refute the allegations, which may be false or greatly exaggerated.

In some ways, the expedited PFA hearing is beneficial, as the defendant may have been temporarily evicted from the residence and forbidden by court order to have any contact with his or her children. In such circumstances, the relatively short wait for a PFA hearing is positive.

However, in other ways, the expedited hearing often presents serious challenges for the defendant.

The PFA defendant must quickly (1) come up with money to retain an experienced attorney, (2) work with the attorney to build the strongest possible defense, (3) collect documentary evidence such as emails, texts, phone logs, and social media postings, and (4) possibly subpoena witnesses to testify at the hearing.

At Spivak Law Firm, we are committed to building the strongest defense as quickly as possible for PFA defendants who are accused of abuse. Though it sometimes makes sense to continue the hearing date to allow for more time to prepare, we generally do not recommend it.

So long as the Temporary PFA remains in place, you are at risk of being jailed for allegedly violating it. After all, someone who lies to get a PFA against you may also lie to get you arrested.

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

PFA: A Sword Or A Shield?

BU010665A Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order should be used as a shield not a sword.

It is commonly known that many people who seek the protections of a PFA are abusing the court system itself by seeking to gain leverage in child custody and divorce.

They may lie about abuse or greatly exaggerate the level of conflict.

After all, filing a PFA immediately evicts the “abuser” from the home. So if you want your spouse out of the house, a PFA is the fastest, cheapest, and easiest way to do it.

And if you want primary custody of your children, a PFA is the fastest, cheapest, and easiest way to get it.

But judges in Allegheny County and throughout Western Pennsylvania have zero tolerance for people who obtain PFA Orders to gain such advantages.

A PFA is meant to serve as a shield offering protections for people who have been physically or sexually abused.

A PFA should not be used as a sword to inflict pain or otherwise gain advantages in family court.

Based in Pittsburgh, Spivak Law Firm provides aggressive representation in PFA hearings. Call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

PFA Defendants Must Hire An Attorney

DV Pic2Q: Will a public defender represent me at my Protection From Abuse (PFA) hearing?

A: No.

People accused of abuse often make the terrible mistake of appearing in PFA Court without a lawyer to defend them. Many think that a public defender – a “free” lawyer – will be appointed to represent them.

But a public defender is available to low-income people in criminal matters only. A PFA is not a criminal matter. A PFA hearing takes place in family court not criminal court.

A PFA is a civil restraining order that restricts an “abuser” from having any contact with the “victim.” A PFA only becomes a criminal matter if the “abuser” violates the PFA Order.

If you’ve been served with a PFA, you need an attorney experienced in family law and criminal defense to represent you. At Spivak Law Firm, we’ve helped hundreds of people get the PFA dismissed while preserving their child-custody rights and protecting their reputations.

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

No Guns For Domestic Violence Offenders

99190846 copy2The United States Supreme Court recently ruled that federal law prohibits anyone convicted of a felony or misdemeanor domestic violence charge from possessing a gun. The ruling specifically states that the federal law applies even in cases where there is no proof of violent acts or physical injury.

In Pennsylvania, criminal domestic violence charges generally include but are not limited to simple assault, aggravated assault, harassment, stalking, child abuse, and reckless endangerment of another person.

The federal law prohibiting gun possession does not encompass Protection From Abuse (PFA) orders. A PFA is a civil matter and only becomes criminal if the person restricted by the PFA is accused of violating the order.

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

In The News: Spivak Law Firm

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.

Why You Need an Experienced PFA Lawyer

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.

Client Relieved as Spivak Law Firm Gets PFA Dismissed

Dave, my client, can’t sit still. About a week ago, he was served with a PFA restraining order from his wife for stalking. Now he’s pacing the third-floor hallway of the family court building in downtown Pittsburgh nervously awaiting his PFA hearing.

I met Dave a few days earlier at my law offices to discuss his case. Dave and his wife were separated for several months. They have a young son together. They both also have children from prior relationships.

She claims he was stalking her by showing up unexpectedly at places like the grocery store, the gas station, Kennywood and Sandcastle. Dave denies following her, and says it was coincidental — after all, they live in the same neighborhood.

Dave was anxious about the PFA. He knew his wife was using it to gain custody rights over their child. The PFA system — though vitally important for helping victims of domestic abuse — is routinely abused by people aiming to get leverage in a child custody case or to evict an ex from a shared residence.

He also worried that she would one day lie about him violating the PFA to get him arrested. Violating any provision of a PFA can land you in jail for 6 months. In domestic violence cases, police routinely make arrests based solely on the complainant’s statement.

I asked Dave to stay in the waiting room with the other PFA defendants while I met with his wife’s attorney. Most PFA cases get resolved by the attorneys without ever having to appear before a judge. But the wife’s attorney insisted on a three-year PFA against my client – the maximum allowed under Pennsylvania law.

I told the attorney that no judge would grant a three-year PFA against my client. But the opposing counsel would not budge. So I said we needed to go before a judge.

At the PFA hearing, I argued that the wife did not allege any physical abuse or threatening behavior. I further explained that the wife does not fear my client, and provided the judge with recent hotel receipts, phone records, and witness statements proving their ongoing relationship.

The judge dismissed the PFA order. My client let out a big sigh of relief and threw his arm around me.

At Spivak Law Firm, aim to provide the strongest possible defense for people accused of stalking, harassment, verbal threats, and physical abuse. In most cases, we get the PFA dismissed. If you’ve been served with a PFA, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

PFA Defense: We Aim To Get the PFA Dropped

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.