Violations of PFA Orders in Pennsylvania: Your Legal Rights and Options
Understanding Protection From Abuse (PFA) Orders
In Pennsylvania, Protection From Abuse (PFA) orders, also known as restraining orders, are designed to shield people and children from domestic violence, harassment, or abuse.
These court-issued mandates prohibit the alleged abuser from contacting, harassing, or coming near the victim for a specified period, typically up to three years. Often, this means that a person cannot enter their own home – even before appearing in court.
Many times – out of shock, familiarity, or trying to retrieve personal belongings – people violate PFA orders. However, violations of PFA orders can have serious legal repercussions, necessitating prompt and strategic action to defend one’s rights.
In Pennsylvania, violation of a PFA order is considered a misdemeanor, a very serious criminal charge that can drastically impact the rest of your life.
If the restraining order has very clear stipulations, not following them exactly can mean additional penalties and jail time.
If the police have questioned you or you think you are in violation of a PFA order, contact Saadzoi Law today at 610-566-5956 for a free consultation.
Consequences and Penalties for Violating a PFA Order
Violating a PFA order is a serious offense in Pennsylvania, and the consequences can be severe.
Section 6114 of Pennsylvania’s Protection from Abuse Act lays out the penalties for being found guilty of criminal contempt for violating a PFA order:
- Up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines, or;
- Up to six months of supervised probation and up to $1,000 in fines, and;
- A criminal conviction.
In addition, the protection order will likely be extended at the victim’s request.
Because violating an order means you are in contempt of court, you will not have the right to a jury trial, only the right to retain an attorney.
Another six months could be added to your sentence if the alleged victim also files a petition for civil contempt.
If an individual is found to have violated a PFA order, they may face criminal charges, which can lead to fines, probation, and even incarceration. Additionally, a violation of a PFA order may result in the extension or modification of the existing order, further restricting the rights and liberties of the accused.
Other indirect consequences of violating a PFA Order include:
- Losing custody rights;
- Impeding citizenship progress or immigration status;
- Loss of the right to own a firearm;
- License suspension.
Any type of arrest can make it difficult to obtain a job or housing and criminal convictions are plain to see by anyone conducting a basic background check.
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What Constitutes a Violation of a PFA Order?
Any type of assault or domestic violence is a violation. But also threats, stalking, harassment, or placing the plaintiff in reasonable fear of violence can be a violation of a restraining order. In addition, any type of contact, such as following or going to the plaintiff’s home or place of work is a violation.
A violation of a restraining order can take various forms, including:
- Direct Contact: Initiating communication or attempting to make contact with the protected individual, either in person, through phone calls, text messages, emails, or messaging on any social media platforms like Whatsapp, Facebook, TikTok, X/Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.
- Physical Proximity: Coming within a certain distance of the protected individual or their residence, workplace, or other specified locations.
- Indirect Contact: Enlisting third parties to communicate with or relay messages to the protected individual on the violator’s behalf.
- Possessing firearms may also be a violation.
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Defending Against Allegations of PFA Violations
If accused of violating a PFA order, it is crucial to seek legal representation promptly. The legal process for defending against allegations of PFA violations can be complex and intimidating, requiring a thorough understanding of Pennsylvania’s laws and procedures.
Attorney Wana Saadzoi and the experienced legal team at Saadzoi Law are dedicated to protecting the rights and interests of individuals facing allegations of PFA violations.
How Saadzoi Law Can Help
Attorney Wana Saadzoi will fiercely defend your rights and your innocence at the hearing. She has years of experience in successfully representing people in PFA hearings.
Navigating the legal complexities of defending against allegations of PFA violations requires the guidance of a skilled and knowledgeable attorney. Attorney Wana Saadzoi is a tough criminal lawyer in Media, PA who is experienced in winning these types of cases, as well as sexual assault cases.
In addition to defending your case at a PFA Hearing, Attorney Saadzoi can also try to have the PFA Order expunged. This is possible only if the PFA Order is dismissed or if a permanent PFA Order was never issued.
Not having an attorney present at a PFA hearing will mean you will represent yourself before a judge. This is an option, but a qualified and experienced PFA Defense Attorney understands the court process and proceedings, can gather evidence on your behalf, and can build a strong defense that demonstrates that no abuse was committed.
Attorney Wana Saadzoi brings extensive experience in Pennsylvania family law and criminal defense, offering compassionate support and unwavering dedication to protecting her client’s rights and interests.
Facing allegations of violating a PFA order can be a daunting and overwhelming experience, but you don’t have to face it alone. Attorney Wana Saadzoi and the compassionate legal team at Saadzoi Law are here to help.
Call 610-566-5956 to schedule a free legal case evaluation.