Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

Based in Pittsburgh, PA

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Three Types of PFA Orders

There are three types of PFA orders in Pennsylvania.

PFA stands for Protection From Abuse.

A PFA is a restraining order that prohibits the alleged abuser from having any contact with the alleged victim.

Under Pennsylvania law, abuse is defined broadly. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats of violence, harassment, and stalking.

A person seeking protection from a family member or current or former sexual partner may obtain one of the following three types of PFA orders.

First, an Emergency PFA will last through a weekend or holiday when courts are generally closed. It expires automatically.

Second, a Temporary PFA triggers a hearing date that is supposed to occur within ten days. In Allegheny County and other counties surrounding Pittsburgh, courts grant more than 90 percent of requests for a Temporary PFA.

Third, a Final PFA may be obtained by consent, failing to appear, or after a hearing before a judge. A Final PFA may remain in place for up to three years.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate, cost-effective representation at PFA hearings. For a free consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

PFA Hearings and Settlement Options

In Allegheny County, dozens of Final PFA hearings are scheduled every day. But judges actually hear only a handful of cases.

That’s because most PFA matters get resolved out of court through settlement by the parties’ attorneys.

In Allegheny County, there are many ways to settle a PFA matter without need for a court hearing, including:

-Withdraw the Temporary PFA

-Replace the Temporary PFA with an agreement to have no contact that also may address issues of child custody and housing

-Continue the Temporary PFA for a period of time set to expire

-Consent to a Final PFA without admitting to the allegations of abuse

-Consent to a Final PFA for a duration less than the three-year maximum

At Spivak Law Firm, we are aggressive trial lawyers who have also effectively negotiated hundreds of PFA cases to meet client goals. To learn more about possible settlement options for your PFA matter, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

What is an Emergency PFA?

A person seeking protection from an abuser may obtain an Emergency PFA even when courts are generally closed.

In Allegheny County, local magistrates and a night court judge are available to grant Emergency PFAs at any time, including: on weekends, during holidays, and late at night.

An Emergency PFA expires when courts resume their regular business hours. Therefore, an Emergency PFA granted on Saturday night will generally expire the following Monday.

A person who obtains an Emergency PFA will often return to Court during regular business hours to request a Temporary PFA, which will trigger a hearing date so a judge may determine whether a Final PFA is warranted.

A Final PFA can last up to three years.

The person accused of abuse does not receive any notice or opportunity to defend against the Emergency PFA or Temporary PFA.

Defendants are given the opportunity to challenge the abuse accusations at the Final PFA hearing before a judge.

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

Pennsylvania Expungement Law Draws Criticism

As Pennsylvania recently enacted a sweeping new expungement law, thousands of people across the state stood to benefit from new opportunities to clean their criminal records so they could move on with their lives.

Some employers and landlords oppose the new clean-slate law on grounds that they have a public-safety interest in knowing the criminal records of their employees and tenants.

The new law seeks to strike a balance by making people with criminal records wait as much as five or ten years before they are eligible for an expungement.

Based in Pittsburgh, Spivak Law Firm has helped people across Allegheny County to expunge their criminal and PFA records.

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

Temporary PFA v. Final PFA

If you are served with a Temporary PFA, a hearing will be scheduled within 10 days.

At the hearing, a judge will hear testimony and review evidence to determine if a Final PFA is warranted.

Most requests for a Temporary PFA are granted. No judge wants to deny a person’s request for protection then find out later that the person seeking help was seriously harmed.

The chances of obtaining a Final PFA are significantly lower, especially if you have an experienced PFA defense attorney.

The Final PFA represents the first time in the process that the defendant can push back on the abuse allegations.

The defendant can testify, cross-examine the accuser, call witnesses to the stand, and provide documentary evidence for the court to review.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong representation at PFA hearings in Pittsburgh and all surrounding counties, including: Allegheny, Armstrong, Crawford, Beaver, Buter, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Mercer, Somerset. Venango, Washington and Westmoreland.

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

Access to Criminal Records

If you have a criminal record, it is visible to the public through a basic docket search using your first and last name. If your criminal record is wiped clean through the expungement process, it will not appear on public dockets.

But district attorneys and the Pennsylvania State Police Central Repository will still have access to your record. Other law enforcement agencies and courts may obtain access to your record by request. They retain access to your record for the following purposes:

  • To identify people in criminal investigations;
  • To determine the grading of future criminal offenses; and
  • To determine eligibility for diversionary programs.

Erasing your criminal record may open new opportunities for employment.

Spivak Law Firm expunges criminal records for a low, one-time fee. For more information, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Final PFA: A Life-Long Record of Abuse

Many people who are served with a Temporary Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order make the mistake of not taking it seriously.

They might not hire an attorney. This is mistake because the alleged victim will almost certainly have an experienced trial lawyer. Pittsburgh and all surrounding counties have local nonprofit organizations that provide free lawyers for people alleging abuse.

Some defendants do not even show up to court for the Final PFA hearing. This is a mistake because failing to appear for the hearing will usually result in a maximum three-year Final PFA against you.

All defendants should have an experienced PFA attorney evaluate their case even if they no longer want to have contact with the person alleging abuse.

A Final PFA creates a permanent record of abusive behavior.

If you’ve been served with a PFA, call Spivak Law Firm today. For a free consultation, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

PFA Hearing: Do I Need A Lawyer?

Q: I’ve been served with a PFA. Do I need an attorney?

A: Yes.

In Pittsburgh and surrounding counties, a free attorney is provided to anyone alleging abuse in PFA Court.

Therefore, if you are a PFA defendant, you should level the playing field by hiring an attorney to represent you.

Otherwise, you will be negotiating with and potentially facing off in court against a seasoned PFA lawyer.

A Final PFA carries significant consequences.

You may be evicted from your home and restricted from your children. You may lose your job. You could even lose your liberty and go to jail if accused of violating the PFA.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, aggressive defense at Final PFA hearings. If necessary, we subpoena documents and witnesses. We are experienced trial lawyers.

We offer a free consultation for PFA matters and generally charge a flat fee so our clients know upfront exactly how much our representation will cost.

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

Tracking PFA Defendants

Under Pennsylvania law, a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order carries serious consequences.

It may evict you from your home, restrict you from your children, and even lead to your arrest.

New legislation may further strengthen the law by requiring PFA defendants to wear an electronic monitoring device.

Dozens of other states allow GPS monitoring for domestic-violence suspects.

In Pennsylvania, such devices are commonly used for criminal defendants.

PFAs are administered by family courts, though violating a PFA order may lead to criminal charges including Indirect Criminal Contempt, which carries a maximum six-month jail sentence.

The legislation regarding electronic monitoring comes on the heels of the 2018 law requiring a person under an active PFA order to turn over their firearms to local law enforcement within 24 hours.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate, cost-effective representation at PFA hearings. For a free consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Automatic Expungements In Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has led the way nationally by enacting the first major automatic expungement law.

“States should follow the approach of Pennsylvania,” according to a recent article in The New York Times, “and make expungement automatic once the legal requirements are met.”

Expungements of criminal convictions seals them from public view, removes them from databases, and neutralizes most of their legal effects.

People usually have to wait years after completing their sentences and go through an elaborate process to have their records cleared.

Interested in expunging your criminal records? Spivak Law Firm handles all areas of family law and criminal defense. For a free consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.