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Pittsburgh, PA - Family Law - Protection from Abuse (PFA)

Protection from Abuse (PFA)

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive / violent behaviors that occur between current or former spouses, boyfriends / girlfriends, intimate partners, children, brothers, sisters, parents or other family or household members.

Domestic violence has many forms and can include various controlling behaviors, including:

  • Physical: punching/kicking/striking, restraining, strangling, cornering, destroying property / violent displays
  • Emotion / Verbal: intimidating behaviors, name calling, threats to harm (you, family, friends, pets, etc.), isolation from family and friends
  • Sexual: performing unwanted or unwelcome sexual acts
  • Stalking: repeated following, repeated attempts to contact (e.g. phone calls, text messages, showing up at work, school, residences), harassment, intimidation by repeated unwanted behaviors
  • Financial: limiting, controlling or denying access to money, accounts, bills, etc.

Protection From Abuse Orders (PFAs)

A PFA is an order of court that provides protection from harm by family or household members, sexual or intimate partners or persons with whom you have a child.  A PFA provides civil legal protection for the party who obtains it, and can lead to criminal charges for those who violate it.  A PFA cannot provide protection from abuse by a stranger, a friend or some other ineligible party.

A PFA can provide protection for you or your family by:

  • Ordering the abuser not to abuse, harass or stalk you, your family or your minor children;
  • Order the abuser to have no contact with you, your children, your workplace, etc.;
  • Order the abuser to be evicted from a common home and grant possession to the victim, or in some circumstances, order the abuser to provide the victim with suitable alternative housing;
  • Award temporary custody / visitation rights for minor children;
  • Order the abuser to pay financial support or provide payment for losses incurred as a result of abuse, such as medical bills, relocation expenses;
  • Order the abuser to turn any firearms or other weapons over to the police

You do not need to have visible injuries to be granted a PFA; one can be obtained for any of the following conduct:

  1. Attempting to cause or causing (with or without a deadly weapon):
    • Bodily injury,
    • Rape,
    • Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse,
    • Sexual assault,
    • Aggravated indecent assault,
    • Indecent assault, or
    • Incest;
  2. Placing another in reasonable fear of immediate serious bodily injury;
  3. False imprisonment;
  4. Physical or sexual abuse of a child; or,
  5. Engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts toward another person, including following the person, under circumstances which place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury.

Violations

Violation of a PFA order can result in the abuser being arrested.  If a victim feels that the PFA has been violated, he or she should contact the local police department.  The police can then make an arrest for Indirect Criminal Contempt (ICC) and the abuser can be jailed.  A separate hearing will be held for any alleged PFA violations.  A warrant for the abuser can also be issued by local Magisterial District Judge.  Both the police and the District Judge will require that a copy of the PFA Order be provided before taking any action.

Help is available for victims of Domestic Abuse!

You can get FREE and CONFIDENTIAL help and information from a domestic violence agency in your area.  The services they provide can include:

  • 24 hour hotlines
  • Shelters
  • Children’s counseling programs
  • Individual and group counseling programs
  • Legal advocacy / court accompaniment
  • Emergency room assistance
  • Help with housing and welfare assistance
  • Developing an individual safety plan

 

Domestic Violence Resources

 

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