Protection from Abuse Orders in Pennsylvania
Domestic abuse has become extremely prevalent in the past year, in part because of all the stay-at-home orders. Being the victim of domestic violence can be terrifying. Oftentimes it is that fear that prevents victims from coming forward and taking action against their abusers. Speaking with and hiring an attorney experienced in these types of matters helps to alleviate some of the despair and stress, as the attorney will handle all the paperwork (Protection from Abuse Order) and will speak to the opposing party. Having an attorney stand by your side in court serves as a reminder that someone is willing to fight for you.
What constitutes abuse in Pennsylvania?
- Causing bodily injury
- Rape or sexual assault
- Placing someone in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury
- Interfering with an individual’s freedom of movement
- Physically or sexually abusing minor children
- Stalking, threatening, harassing or engaging in other acts which put someone in reasonable fear of bodily injury
Who can file for a protection from abuse order?
The petitioner must have had a special type of relationship with the abuser, such as being a relative, related by marriage, in a current or past intimate relationship, or the parent of a child. An adult guardian can also petition on behalf of a minor child.
What types of protections does the order offer?
- Orders the abuse to stop
- Evicts the abuser from the residence
- Orders the abuser to stay away from the residence, place of employment and/or school of the victim.
- Awards temporary custody of the minor children to the non-abuser
- Requires the abuser to provide financial support, such as household payments and medical coverage, to the victim
- Prohibits contact between abuser and plaintiff and/or minor children
- Prohibits defendant from possessing a firearm
How quickly will the order be signed?
The judge may authorize a temporary order of protection immediately upon presentation of a petition without notice to the abuser and without the abuser being present at the initial hearing. The final hearing will be set within 10 business days and, at that time, the defendant will have an opportunity to be heard and present evidence, as will the plaintiff. The abuser will be served by local police or other personnel with the temporary order and provided with notice of the final hearing. The abuser will also be prohibited from contacting the victim(s) pending the final hearing.
How long will I be protected?
The original order may be in place for three years. An extension of a protection order can be granted if the defendant violates the order after it goes into effect or if there is continued risk of harm to the plaintiff or minor children.
What if the abuser violates the order?
The court may find the defendant in contempt if the order is violated. Potential penalties consist of a criminal conviction, monetary sanctions (including fines, fees, and court costs), supervised probation, and imprisonment.
What if I cannot afford to file a protection from abuse order?
The victim will not be required to pay any filing fees or costs associated with the case. However, the judge might require the defendant to be responsible for the fees.
Contact a Pittsburgh Family Law Attorney Today
If you are thinking of filing for a protection from abuse order, have an upcoming hearing regarding the same, or just have a myriad of questions regarding your options of protection from domestic abuse, now is the time to hire a Pittsburgh domestic abuse attorney at Bunde & Roberts, P.C. There is no need for you to try to go through this emotional, and often complicated, process without the help of knowledgeable legal counsel by your side every step of the way.