DiCindio Law LLC | December 14, 2023 | Restraining Orders
What Proof Is Needed for a Restraining Order in West Chester, PA?
Confronting a restraining order in West Chester, Pennsylvania, can be distressing and may have serious repercussions. If you are the defendant (or respondent) in this situation, understanding what exactly a restraining order is and what proof is needed for such an order to be issued against you is crucial. Being aware of these standards will help you fight any charges you’re facing.
What Is a Restraining Order in West Chester, PA?
A restraining order, also known as a Protection From Abuse Order (PFA), is an official mandate issued by the court to safeguard individuals from abuse inflicted by intimate partners or family members.
Generally, PFAs disallow any form of contact between the parties mentioned in the order. This means you are prohibited from making phone calls, sending messages, personally visiting them, communicating through social media, or even asking someone else to deliver a message for you.
Evidence Needed for a Restraining Order
Various forms of evidence can be used by the alleged victim seeking a restraining order. For instance, a witness could provide testimony if they claim to have witnessed you causing harm to the plaintiff.
Additionally, documentary evidence can include police reports in which abuse was reported or photographs depicting physical injuries allegedly caused by you.
You will have a chance to present your own evidence to counter these claims at the hearing for the final PFA.
When a Temporary Restraining Order Can Be Issued
Understanding when a Temporary Restraining Order can be issued allows you to stay informed about the process and your rights. A temporary PFA can be granted without your presence if an immediate review of the alleged victim’s petition indicates they are in danger. This assessment is made by the judge without hearing your side of the story.
Once a temporary PFA is granted, a hearing date is scheduled where you have the right to be present and defend yourself. This hearing allows for fuller discussion and argument around whether a final PFA order should be issued or not. At this hearing, you have an opportunity to respond to the allegations made and to present evidence disputing the order.
When an Emergency Restraining Order Can Be Issued
There may be instances when immediate safety concerns necessitate the issuing of a restraining order outside normal courthouse operating hours. In such cases, an Emergency PFA can be requested from the on-call Magisterial District Judge when the courthouse is closed.
This emergency PFA is valid until the end of the court’s next business day. On the following business day, the alleged victim can then seek a temporary PFA, which, if granted, will be in place until a hearing for a final PFA is held.
A Restraining Order Is a Civil Issue Unless You Violate it
In Pennsylvania, a restraining order is considered part of civil law rather than criminal. This means you won’t face any criminal penalties if the order is issued. However, if you violate the terms of the restraining order, you will face criminal charges and penalties.
Penalties for Violating a Restraining Order
In Pennsylvania, if police find probable cause to believe you’ve violated such an order, they can arrest you without a warrant.
Once arrested for violation of the restraining order, a court hearing occurs within ten days to decide on what penalties will be imposed.
Legal penalties may vary but can include:
- Criminal or civil contempt charges
- Incarceration for up to 6 months
- Probation for up to 6 months
- Fines between $300 and $1,000
Protective orders should always be treated seriously to avoid potential penalties; even when an alleged victim who has secured a restraining order against you reaches out first, responding could still constitute a violation.
Get Legal Assistance From an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
If you don’t understand any part of an order that has been issued against you or anticipate difficulties in adhering to its terms, seek further assistance from a legal professional right away. For assistance, contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a West Chester criminal defense lawyer.
Contact Our Criminal Defense Law Firm in West Chester, PA
***This blog article is made available by the law firm publisher for educational purposes and to provide general information, not to provide specific legal advice. By reading, you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant. The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. Please contact DiCindio Law, LLC for a consultation and to discuss what law is relevant to your case. ***