Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

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PFA Hearing Allegheny County

PFA and Criminal Charges


PFA Pic1If you’ve been accused of perpetrating domestic violence or child abuse, you may be facing a Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order and criminal charges such as assault, harassment, stalking, or terroristic threats.

At Spivak Law Firm, we generally advise our clients to continue the PFA hearing until after the criminal case is resolved. The district attorney could use the PFA hearing transcript against you in criminal court.

Based in Pittsburgh, Spivak Law Firm provides strong, aggressive representation for clients in Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Indiana County, Greene County, Washington County, and Westmoreland County.

If you face a PFA or criminal domestic-violence charges, call Spivak Law Firm to schedule a free consultation at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Are PFA Hearings Fair?

BU010665If you’re a victim of domestic abuse, you can get a Temporary Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order against your abuser simply by telling your situation to a judge at an ex parte hearing. The alleged abuser receives no notice and may not attend the hearing.

Is this fair?

For true victims of domestic abuse, an ex parte hearing is often necessary to escape a violent relationship. But it is commonly known among family law professionals that many people abuse the PFA system just to gain leverage in child custody and divorce.

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

“The Terror Is Constant”


Conflict between man and woman

The following is the third of three excerpts from a recent column by Nancy Eshelman of the Patriot-News in Central Pennsylvania. Ms. Eshelman’s husband was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in a domestic violence related incident.

“For a domestic violence victim, the feeling of vulnerability increases after she makes the break. She knows he is angry and she waits for him to show it.

Walking to the mail box, taking out the trash, working in the yard become terrifying. The prospect of unloading groceries from her trunk causes her to sweat.

She drives everywhere with one eye in the rear view mirror and her car doors locked. She never exits the car without her house keys in her hand.

She burns too many lights. She looks out the windows. She wonders if she frantically dials 911 how long a response would take. She asks herself repeatedly which direction she would run if she saw him approaching.

The terror is constant. It takes a toll, physically and mentally.

And for too many women, the threat becomes all too real.”

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate representation in PFA and criminal domestic-violence cases. For a free consultation, 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.

Stalking and PFAs in Pennsylvania

DV Pic9A Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order is an important tool for any stalking victim because it allows the police to arrest the stalker, even if the police did not see the stalking behavior. You will need to prove the following two things in order to get a PFA:

  • You are either related to the stalker, married or previously married to the stalker, you have a child with the stalker, or you have an intimate relationship with the stalker (either sexual or dating); and
  • You were followed or contacted by the stalker for no lawful reason and you fear that the stalker will cause you serious bodily injury.

Once you get a PFA, you can ask the court to order that the stalker have no contact with you at home, work or school, as well as many other protections.

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 attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Pittsburgh Lawyer Gets PFA Against Businessman

SO000183Domestic violence knows no boundaries. It happens to young and old, rich and poor, black and white. It affects high-school dropouts and highly educated professionals.

Every day in Allegheny County, dozens of people arrive in family court for a Protection From Abuse (PFA) hearing. Last month, a well-respected Pittsburgh attorney sought protection against a successful entrepreneur.

Allegheny County Assistant District Attorney Lisa Pellegrini obtained a Temporary PFA against her former boyfriend, local restaurateur Ray Burg, for allegedly slamming her head against a car dashboard. Criminal charges are pending against Burg, owner of Burg’s In The Burgh, located on Forbes Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, aggressive representation for plaintiffs and defendants in PFA hearings. To speak with an experienced PFA lawyer, 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.