Protection from Abuse (PFA)

Remember, in case of an emergency or if you’ve been assaulted, contact 911 or your local police department.
A Protection from Abuse Order (PFA) may be appropriate if you have been abused. A PFA may be sought against any of the following individuals:
1. Spouse, ex-spouse (including common-law marriages)
2. Current or former sexual/intimate partner
3. Blood relatives
For the purposes of seeking a PFA, abuse is defined as any of the following:
1. Attempting to, intentionally or recklessly causing bodily injury, rape, spousal sexual assault or nonconsensual intercourse with or without a deadly weapon
2. Placing another, by physical threat, in fear of imminent serious bodily injury
3. False imprisonment
4. Physically or sexually abusing minor children
5. Stalking a person and placing that person in reasonable fear of bodily injury
** The Protection from Abuse Act does not cover emotional, verbal, or mental abuse**
An individual seeking a PFA should:
1. Contact Women In Need, Mid-Penn Legal Services, Franklin County Legal Services or a similar agency and ask to speak to someone about their current situation
2. They will refer you to someone who can help you with the process who will schedule a meeting with you to complete the necessary paperwork
3. After petition is complete, the legal documents are sent to the courthouse to be signed by a judge
4. If the judge signs the order this will act a as a temporary order
5. This temporary order, along with other legal documents, is served by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department on the abuser. Once this is done, the Temporary Order is enforceable.
6. A Final Hearing will be scheduled to determine if the Order will be in effect and how long it will remain effective.
The PFA Order may:
1. Order the abuser to stop abusing, harassing, stalking, or threatening you and/or your children.
2. Evict the abuser from the home.
3. Order the abuser to have no contact.
4. Prohibit abuser from coming to residence.
5. Prohibit abuser from having weapons.
6. Award temporary custody and visitation rights.
7. Order the abuser to pay temporary financial support.
8. Reimburse the individual for financial losses (medical bills, lost wages).
9. Keep the victim’s address confidential.
If the abuser violates the PFA:
1. You should call the police immediately.
2. A violation will result in a proceeding called an Indirect Criminal Contempt Hearing (ICC), in which the abuser would be called before a judge to answer the allegations made against him/her.
3. You will need to be present at the violation hearing.
4. A violation may result in a fine up to $1,000 or imprisonment of up to 6 months or both.
5. PFA Orders can be modified and extended at the hearing.