Protection from Abuse (PFA)
Protection from Abuse in Pennsylvania is governed by the Pennsylvania Protection From Abuse Act found at 23 PA.C.S.A §§6101-6118. Upon showing abuse, a PFA can be obtained against any family member, any person who shares biological parenthood, current or past sexual or intimate partner. A PFA can be entered for up to three years with various types of consequences to the offender such as forbidden contact with the victim including place of employment, residence, place of worship or anywhere else the victim is found. A PFA can also award a spouse temporary possession of a marital residence as well as temporary custody or support of a child.
It is important to know how “abuse” is defined legally under the Act. Under 23 PA.C.S §6102, abuse is defined as the occurrence of one or more of the following acts:
1. Attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly, among other things, causing bodily injury with or without a deadly weapon;
2. Placing another in a reasonable fear or imminent bodily injury;
3. The infliction of false imprisonment pursuant to 18 PA.C.S §2903 (relating to false imprisonment);
4. Physical or sexual abuse of minor children;
5. Knowingly engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts toward another person which place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury.
Note that Section 6107(a) of the Protection From Abuse Act (23 PA. C.S. §§6101-6117) provides “the plaintiff must prove the allegation of abuse by a preponderance of the evidence.” A preponderance of evidence standard “is defined as the greater weight of the evidence, i.e. to tip a scale slightly in the requirement for preponderance of the evidence.” In simple terms, the victim must show that the evidence is more likely than not evidence of abuse. Also, in order to receive a PFA Order, the party filing has to prove that he/she is in imminent fear; one cannot seek protection from a future threat, the threat MUST be “about to happen.”
A PFA in and of itself is not criminal but those who violate a Protection From Abuse Order can face criminal charges. Therefore, victims of abuse in Pennsylvania not only have the means to help stop the abuse but an avenue should their abuser violate the Order entered against them.
When you need an attorney to represent you with your legal matters, contact the Law Offices of Michael Kuldiner, P.C. in order to obtain the best results possible in each case. To arrange a consultation, please give us a call at (215) 942-2100 or contact us by submitting the form at top right.