Philadelphia Violation of Protective Order Lawyer
A protective order is issued by the court to keep a defendant away from the plaintiff who filed the petition for the protective order. These orders protect alleged victims but at great cost to defendants. These orders are often imposed before a trial even begins, so a defendant may feel as though they are being punished before ever being found guilty.
Protective orders are primarily used in domestic violence or stalking cases. While you may believe that the court should not have issued a protective order against you, it is important to follow the instructions in the protective order. If you were arrested for violating a protective order, you should consult with our experienced Philadelphia violation of protective orders lawyers.
The Law Offices of Lloyd Long are prepared to help you defend against prosecution for violating a protective order. Our firm understands that a protective order can be erroneously issued, and we are here to stand with you. We avoid taking a high volume of cases so that we can dedicate an adequate amount of time and resources to every client’s case. To schedule a free case review, call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171.
Pennsylvania Protection from Abuse Order Laws
Pennsylvania permits victims of domestic violence to petition the court for a protective order, officially known as a protection from abuse order (PFA). The purpose of a PFA is to prevent an abuser from having any form of contact with a victim. For example, a PFA may instruct the defendant that they cannot come within 100 yards of the petitioner, or it might instruct the defendant that they are barred from entering the petitioner’s home. PFAs can be granted for domestic violence or if a defendant is accused of stalking a victim.
To receive a PFA against a defendant, the victim only has to submit testimony that the defendant’s actions made them fear for their life. The victim does not need a police report or medical evidence of any type of injury. Any adult or emancipated minor can file for a PFA for themselves or on behalf of a child or incompetent individual. It is also important to note that a PFA can be obtained against a minor.
If you happen to live with the victim when the PFA is granted, you will not be permitted to live at the residence any longer. Additionally, if you share children with the victim, this may affect your child custody rights as well. A PFA can also lead to other criminal charges depending on the circumstances of your case.
To learn more about protective orders and the penalties for violating a protective order, you should continue reading and consider speaking with our experienced Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers.
How Long Do PFAs Last in Philadelphia?
Not all PFAs are the same. Courts will include different conditions in a protective order based on the needs of the alleged victim. Issues like living arrangements and child custody are all considered when tailoring a PFA to a case. In some cases, PFAs are only temporary, while in other cases, they become permanent fixtures.
A temporary PFA or other protective order may be imposed shortly after a defendant is arrested for a violent offense, often domestic violence. These orders tend to be very brief and are only intended to be effective until a formal hearing on the matter can be arranged. Other times, PFA’s may be imposed for the duration of your legal battle. This means that you are bound by the protective order until your jury reaches a verdict. While some cases are resolved quickly, other cases may drag on for months, and the PFA could seriously interfere with your life.
A more permanent PFA could be granted if you are found guilty and last for as long as three years. Sometimes, the PFA may last even longer if the court believes it is necessary. A permanent PFA is incredibly tough for defendants with children, as they may be prevented from seeing their kids or having any custodial rights. Our Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys can help you fight back against unfair protective orders.
Common Conditions and Requirements of Protective Orders in Philadelphia
The conditions and requirements that go along with protective orders also vary from case to case. Courts dislike imposing unnecessary restrictions on people and usually prefer the least restrictive measures necessary to ensure an alleged victim’s safety. Unfortunately, what the court believes to be the least restrictive is often highly restrictive and sometimes unnecessary.
The primary purpose of any PFA is to keep the defendant away from the alleged victim. Many PFA’s include a specific and measurable distance the defendant must keep from the victim. However, protective orders restrict more than just in-person contact. Defendants are usually prohibited from contacting the alleged victim by any means at all, including phone calls, text messages, emails, or social media. Sending a third party with a message for the victim may also be a violation of a PFA.
If the defendant and victim lived together, as they often do in cases of alleged domestic violence, the defendant is often ordered to leave the home. For defendants with nowhere else to go, this creates a serious problem. You should not have to struggle to find housing while also dealing with criminal charges.
PFAs may also impose restrictions on weapons and firearms. A defendant bound by a PFA might be restricted from owning any weapons. This measure is taken to ensure the victim’s safety but infringes on the rights of the defendant.
Child custody arrangements are often made part of PFAs. A defendant might not only be kept from seeing the alleged victim but also any children they share. The order could also mandate that the defendant pay support for children they are not allowed to see. Our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers can help you lift burdensome PFA’s while also fighting the underlying charges.
Penalties for Violating a PFA
Violation of a protection from abuse order is charged as indirect criminal contempt. The court that handles this criminal offense can be in the county where the protective order violation occurred or the county where the PFA was issued. Generally, there are two types of sentences that a defendant can receive for violating a protective order:
- Up to six months in jail and a criminal fine of not less than $300 and not more than $1,000
- Up to six months of supervised probation and a criminal fine of not less than $300 and not more than $1,000
The funds collected for violating a PFA will be distributed among various agencies in Pennsylvania. This money will primarily be used to continue to operate Pennsylvania’s protective order process.
It is also important to note that there may be other consequences for violating a protective order. For example, if a defendant is convicted of violating a PFA, the victim may successfully request that the terms of the PFA be extended. Additionally, if you are not convicted of violating a PFA, this will not affect any other criminal cases that arose out of the PFA violation. However, a conviction may be used as evidence against you in other criminal cases you have pending. Our Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys can help you challenge the PFA against you and any consequences for alleged violations of the PFA.
If you have a PFA filed against you, it is important to follow the directions of the PFA so it is not renewed in the event of a violation. A PFA can affect your life in other ways outside of the criminal justice system. For example, if you were arrested for violating a PFA, this can affect your ability to find employment or your ability to receive the funds necessary to attend college. A protective order may even affect the likelihood of being approved for an apartment application.
Getting a Protective Order Lifted in Philadelphia
It might be possible to fight a protective order or PFA. In some cases, the order is imposed after a hearing where the defendant and the alleged victim speak. Other times, and often in the case of temporary PFAs, the order is imposed at the alleged victim’s request without any input from the defendant. If you are bound by a PFA you did not know about until it was too late, our Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys can work to have it lifted.
In some cases, the victim uses the court system as a way to hurt the defendant. For example, one parent might try to hurt the other by claiming they were abused, request a PFA, and prevent the other parent from seeing their kids. Other times, one partner files for a PFA to get the defendant kicked out of their home so the defendant cannot claim the belongings in the home after the breakup. If the alleged victim in your case obtains the PFA under false pretenses, we can move to have it lifted.
Other times, a PFA can be lifted because both parties have reconciled. A PFA is only necessary because the alleged victim claims they are in fear for their safety. If the defendant and victim make amends, and the victim is no longer afraid, we can move to lift the PFA. This is often an easier way to get an order lifted because the victim may cooperate with us.
We can argue to have a PFA lifted because it is unnecessary. When a petitioner files for a PFA, they usually must have a good reason why. PFAs do not typically require a lot of evidence and are usually granted. However, if the information provided by the victim does not check out, we can argue against the PFA. For example, the victim might claim you have a long history of violence. However, you might have no history of violence and a clean criminal record. We can use this information to lift or change the PFA.
Are Protective Orders Issued in Other States Valid in Philadelphia?
You might be in a situation where you are not in Pennsylvania, but a Pennsylvania protective order has been issued against you. This may be common for people who live in Delaware or New Jersey but have a partner who lives in Philadelphia. Even though a different state issued the PFA than the one you live in, you must still adhere to the order.
Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), protective orders issued in one state must be upheld and recognized in other states. So, a Pennsylvania protective order applies to you even if you live in Delaware or New Jersey. It is important to note that the provisions of VAWA apply equally to men and women.
This presents a tricky problem for defendants who live out of state and wish to challenge a Pennsylvania PFA. Perhaps you were planning to visit your children in Philadelphia but must now stay away from them because of this order. Our Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys can work with you to lift the order in Pennsylvania.
Work with a PFA Defense Attorney Today to Fight Your Case
If you were charged with a violation of a PFA, contact our experienced Philadelphia PFA defense attorneys today. Criminal lawyer Lloyd Long has years of experience handling a wide range of cases, and he can use this experience to represent you. To schedule a free case review, call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171.