How to apply for pfa?
What is a Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order?
In Pennsylvania, a PFA order from a court gives protective “relief” for a victim (and sometimes their children) for a period of up to three years (for final orders). A person can file for a PFA order from the court for themselves, or on behalf of their minor children. A PFA describes various types of protections for the victim. For example, a PFA order can make it illegal for the abuser to contact, harass and abuse the victim and the victim’s children, it may order the abuser to return personal property. An abusers violation of a PFA may result in criminal charges.
PFA Orders are free for the person seeking protection. In most cases, the defendant will have to pay for all or part of the PFA process. Otherwise, the county must pay.
In most cases, the victim should immediately call the police if the abuser doesn’t keep to (“violates”) the terms of the PFA order. According the PFA Act, the police can and should arrest the abuser for any violation of the PFA order. The only exception is that the police cannot arrest an abuser for not paying expenses and support as ordered.A defendant who violates a PFA order can be arrested and charged with a crime called indirect criminal contempt. The victim may be asked to testify about the violation at a court hearing. If the court finds the defendant guilty of violating the PFA order, the court can give jail time, probation, and/or fines.Even though the police may arrest and charge an abuser for indirect criminal contempt, the abuser may be released before the hearing. Victims should consider talking to a domestic violence advocate about steps to take to stay safe.
Yes, a PFA order from Pennsylvania is valid in every county in Pennsylvania, every state across the country, and on tribal lands. Protection orders from other states or tribal courts are also valid in Pennsylvania. This is because the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a federal law that protects victims of domestic violence, makes all states honor other courts’ protection orders. There are law enforcement databases that make it easier for police to electronically check protection orders, but they are not foolproof. It is important for victims to have their PFA orders with them whenever they are traveling or if they move to a new address, especially out of state.A plaintiff who has a PFA order does not have to register it in a different county or state for it to be valid, but registering it with the local courthouse may be helpful. On the plus side, registering an order allows police to quickly verify the order and respond faster to if an abuser violates it. On the downside, some states will notify the defendant when the victim registers a PFA order in a new county or state. If the victim does not want an abuser to know where they are, they may not want to register the PFA. Procedures for registering a PFA order vary from state to state.A domestic violence program or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 800-787-3224 can give more information on how to register a PFA order in a new state.It is good for a victim to have a certified copy of the order along at all times, especially if a victim decides not to register a PFA order after moving. (A certified copy is one that is stamped with a raised seal and initialed by the court.) It is also a good idea to have multiple copies of the order for work, home, and/or school.
You may also be able to get assistance with filing a PFA, counseling, legal, medical, or financial assistance, or safety planning, from an advocate in a domestic violence program in your county. All services are confidential. If you want to contact a domestic violence program in your county, you may click on victim service programs. This will enable you to locate a domestic violence program in your county and see a list of the services provided.
If you are in an abusive relationship, you may want to talk to an advocate at a domestic violence program. The advocate will be able to talk to you about your options.
A Sexual Violence Protection Order (SVPO) is designed to protect victims of sexual violence from further abuse and/or intimidation by their abuser, regardless of whether or not criminal charges have been filed against the perpetrator. Similar in many ways to a PFA, the key difference lies in the relationship between the abuser and the victim. While PFAs require an intimate or household relationship between two parties, a SVPO does not and is available to victims of sexual violence who are at continued risk of harm from their perpetrator.
You may be able to get assistance with filing a SVPO, counseling, legal, medical, or financial assistance or safety planning from an advocate in a rape crisis program in your county. All services are confidential. If you want to contact a rape crisis program in your county, you may click on victim service programs. This will enable you to locate a rape crisis program in your county and see a list of the services provided.
A Protection From Intimidation Order (PFI) is appropriate in cases of harassment and stalking where the victim and the perpetrator do not have and have never had a family, household, or intimate partner relationship AND the victim is under the age of 18 AND the defendant is over the age of 18. PFIs cannot be granted in cases involving two minors, two adults, or where a minor is harassing or stalking an adult. PFIs must be filed by an adult (parent, guardian, or adult household member) on behalf of the minor victim.
- Step 1: Get the petition at the courthouse.
- Step 2: Fill out the forms.
- Step 3: A judge will review your petition and may grant you an ex parte temporary PFA.
- Step 4: The hearing.