Has someone filed for a restraining order or protection from abuse (PFA) order against you in West Chester, PA? Whether you’ve just been served with a PFA or whether you have been accused of a violation, you know the stakes are high and the timeline is short.
You need an aggressive West Chester restraining order lawyer who can leap into action and start building your defense today.
That’s why you should call DiCindio Law, LLC before you do anything else. Attorney Mike DiCindio personally handles every case. Recognized by respected organizations such as Super Lawyers and the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys for his professional accomplishments, hard work, and commitment to client service, he’s helped countless clients fight restraining orders and violations of PFAs.
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How DiCindio Law, LLC Can Help With a Restraining Order
You might have received a restraining order in connection with domestic violence charges. Or, the alleged victim may have simply gone to the judge over the weekend and gotten a PFA. Whatever the circumstances, fighting a restraining order or the violation of one is nothing to take lightly.
When you hire our criminal defense lawyers in West Chester, we’ll provide immediate help by:
- Investigating the allegations behind the restraining order
- Interviewing witnesses for information that undermines the allegations against you
- Looking for motives for false allegations
- Representing you at the final protection from abuse hearing or helping you appeal
Mike DiCindio is known for his complete commitment to his clients. If he wouldn’t recommend it to his family, he won’t recommend it to his clients. It’s that simple — Attorney DiCindio is 100% dedicated to giving his all to your case. Attorney DiCindio has helped hundreds of clients navigate the criminal justice system. Call now to see how he can help you.
What Is a Restraining Order in Pennsylvania?
A restraining order (often called a PFA in Pennsylvania) is an order from the court issued at the request of an individual alleging abuse from an intimate partner or family member. While the PFA will be specific to your case, a PFA generally prevents you from having any contact with the party named in the PFA. It may have other restrictions.
Under Pennsylvania law, “abuse” for purposes of a PFA includes:
- Attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing:
- Placing a person in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury
- False imprisonment
- Physically or sexually abusing minor children
- Knowingly engaging in conduct or repeated acts toward another person, placing the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury
A temporary PFA can be issued immediately upon the judge’s review of the plaintiff’s petition. This can happen if the judge thinks the plaintiff is in danger, and it will usually happen without you present. If a temporary PFA is issued, a date will be set for a hearing to determine if a final PFA should be issued. You will be able to attend the hearing for determination of the final PFA order.
An emergency PFA can be issued when the courthouse is closed. These are issued by a Magisterial District Judge and expire at the end of the next day the courthouse is open. The plaintiff will likely then file for a temporary PFA the next day.
A final restraining order or PFA order can impose restrictions for up to three years.
What Does a Restraining Order Prevent Me From Doing?
The restrictions of the PFA will be specific to what the alleged victim requests.
In general, a restraining order could:
- Prohibit you from having any contact with the plaintiff or minor children
- Contain specific language that you must not commit any further abuse against the alleged victim or any minor children
- Order you to leave the residence that you share with the plaintiff
- Award temporary custody of minor children to the plaintiff
- Order you to pay financial support
- Require you to relinquish firearms and prevent you from acquiring firearms while the order is valid
- Require you to refrain from stalking or harassing the plaintiff, minor children, or plaintiff’s relatives
- Other restrictions the judge deems necessary
If the judge rules in favor of the plaintiff, you will have to comply with the order, but you do not face criminal penalties. You could, however, face criminal penalties if you violate the order. It is very important that you understand what you can and cannot do if you have a PFA issued against you.
Call us for immediate assistance if you’re served with a PFA. We’re always available, and we offer free consultations — so you have nothing to lose by calling our West Chester restraining order attorney today.
I Didn’t Do Anything – Why Was I Served with a Restraining Order?
If you’re surprised to be served with a PFA, you’re not alone. Restraining orders or PFAs are common in Pennsylvania.
The majority of petitions filed include a request for a temporary order (which can be issued without your knowledge):
- Every new PFA case filed in Chester County, PA in 2020 requested a temporary order.
- Of the 526 new cases filed that year in Chester County, almost all (96.8%) were granted temporary orders.
- 34,211 (98.6%) of all new PFA cases filed in 2020 across Pennsylvania requested temporary orders to be issued.
- 89% of requests for temporary PFAs in all of Pennsylvania were granted.
So that’s about 84 PFAs granted every day across the Commonwealth where defendants weren’t present and may not have even known about it before they were served with the order.
In Chester County in 2020, of the 415 PFA cases processed:
- 33% of cases did not result in the issuance of a final PFA after the temporary order was dismissed (final PFA denied)
- 25% of cases resulted in the issuance of a final order (PFA granted)
- 13% of cases were withdrawn by the plaintiff
- 8% of cases – the plaintiff did not appear
If you’ve been served with a PFA in Chester County, don’t panic. You’ll have an opportunity to present evidence at the hearing before a permanent PFA is issued. But you should contact a reputable West Chester criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. There is very little time to act since hearings are scheduled within ten days of the filing of the petition.
Is a PFA a Criminal Charge?
No. While a PFA might be issued in connection with criminal charges, a restraining order or PFA by itself is a civil matter. What does that mean for you?
When facing a protection from abuse order:
- The burden of proof for the plaintiff is lower than for criminal matters
- A temporary PFA can be issued without you present
- You are not entitled to a jury trial
- The prosecutor’s office is not involved in the hearing (unless there are other criminal charges pending)
It’s important to realize that while a PFA is handled in civil court, violations can result in criminal penalties. If you’re served with a PFA, it’s a serious matter, and you must make sure you do not violate any terms of the order.
What Are the Penalties for Violating a PFA Order in West Chester, Pennsylvania?
Police can arrest you for violating a PFA order in Pennsylvania without a warrant if they have probable cause. A hearing will be scheduled within ten days.
If you are found to be in violation of a PFA, you could face:
- Indirect criminal contempt charges
- Civil contempt charges
- Jail time for up to six months
- A fine of between $300 and $1,000
- Supervised probation for up to six months
- Extension of the terms of the PFA
If you’re arrested for a PFA violation, you need to act fast. Hearings are scheduled quickly, so you don’t have time to waste. Let DiCindio Law, LLC put more than a decade of criminal law experience behind your defense. Call now to schedule your free consultation.
You Can Be Found in Violation of a PFA if You Respond to the Plaintiff
The circumstances surrounding a PFA or restraining order are personal and emotional. You could be tempted to respond to a text or call from the plaintiff while you’re under the restrictions of a PFA. Do not give in. Whether you’re trying to explain yourself or respond to a seemingly heartfelt apology from the plaintiff, responding can get you in big trouble.
Remember, the PFA is against you, not the plaintiff. The alleged victim is not prevented from contacting you. But if they do contact you, you could be slapped with a violation if you respond.
So, do not respond in any way. What you can do is keep all records of any contact from the plaintiff — texts, emails, calls, voicemails, anything. Give these to your lawyer, and they can determine whether they can be helpful to your defense.
What Are the Defenses to a Restraining Order?
Just because a judge issued a temporary PFA does not mean you won’t get a chance to fight the PFA. A temporary PFA order is designed to allow plaintiffs to get immediate protection, and they can be issued without you even being present at the hearing.
But a hearing must be scheduled within ten days of issuance of the temporary order. This hearing is when you’ll have a chance to challenge the PFA.
Your defense will depend on the facts unique to your case. Fighting an initial PFA may be different than fighting a violation. Whether additional criminal charges are involved may also come into play.
But in general, some possible defenses could include:
- False allegations
- The alleged victim or witnesses are biased against you
- The plaintiff is using the PFA to keep you from your children
- You acted in self-defense
Every situation is different. The PFA hearing is a chance for you to tell your side of the story.
Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a West Chester Restraining Order Lawyer
If someone has filed for a protection from abuse order against you, your freedom and reputation are at risk. DiCindio Law, LLC steps into action to stand up for you right away. Get a West Chester restraining order lawyer who you can count on to fight aggressively to help keep you from living with unnecessary restrictions.
Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.