Temporary Protection From Abuse Order
Protection from Abuse
Who can you file against?
Pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. §6102, the plaintiff (or protected person, if filing on behalf of another) must have one of the following relationships with the defendant:
- A family member or household member
- A sexual or intimate partner
- A person with whom you share biological parenthood (you share a child)
- Note that other relationships may qualify under a Sexual Violence Protection Order or a Protection from Sexual Violence & Intimidation Order.
What type of conduct constitutes “abuse” under the Protection from Abuse Act?
Pursuant to 23 PA.C.S. §6102, the following conduct is “abuse”:
- Attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury, serious bodily injury, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault or incest with or without a deadly weapon.
- Placing another in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
- The infliction of false imprisonment pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. § 2903 (relating to false imprisonment).
- Physically or sexually abusing minor children, including such terms as defined in Chapter 63 (relating to child protective services).
- Knowingly engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts toward another person, including following the person, without proper authority, under circumstances which place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury. The definition of this paragraph applies only to proceedings commenced under this title and is inapplicable to any criminal prosecutions commenced under Title 18 (relating to crimes and offenses).
Steps to Obtain a Temporary Protection from Abuse Order
If you believe that you have been the victim of abuse and want to petition the Court of Common Pleas for a PFA order, you must report to the PFA office, located on the second floor of the Courthouse near the rotunda, Monday through Friday between 8:00 and 9:30 a.m.
At all other times you can petition for an Emergency Order from your local Magisterial District Judge by going to his or her office, or if outside business hours, calling Beaver County Emergency Services (911) for the MDJ on duty. The MDJ will be notified of the situation and you will have to go to his or her office. An Emergency Order is only in effect until the next regular business day of the Court. If you need to extend the protection granted by the Emergency Order, you then must come to the Courthouse and file for a Temporary Order.
- Be prepared to spend the entire morning at the Courthouse. To expedite the process for yourself and other petitioners that day, please consider completing the Petition prior to arriving at the Courthouse. The Petition is available above and at all
- MDJ offices. If you do not own a printer, you can still complete the Petition or type into the pdf and email to email@example.com.
- When answering the questions regarding incidents of abuse, please focus on the actual conduct that constitutes “abuse” as defined above; extensive background information is often unnecessary.
An advocate from the Women’s Center of Beaver County will be present to guide you through the process, answer questions about domestic violence, and provide information of the services they offer.
The Service Information sheet requires you to provide information about the defendant in order to help the Sheriff’s department serve him / her with the Petition and Temporary Order. Please complete this form to the best of your ability to ensure prompt service.
Interview and Review of Petition
After completing the forms you will be interviewed by a Judicial Law Clerk, who will review the forms to ensure all necessary information has been entered.
You will then go to a Courtroom to testify before a Judge as to matters contained in your petition. At this stage the Judge is not making a finding of abuse; he or she will only determine if there is jurisdiction (i.e., if this is the correct court in which to file), a qualifying relationship between you and the defendant, and if the alleged conduct meets the statutory definition of “abuse”.
Granting of a Temporary Order
The Temporary Protection Order will be in effect until the final hearing, which will be held within 10 days. You will receive a notice containing the date, time, and courtroom of the final hearing.
You will also be given a certified copy of the order to keep and any additional certified copies you can give to your local police department to provide them notice.
The Sheriff will receive certified copies to serve to the defendant.
Denial of a Temporary Order
In the event that after the Court of Common Pleas reviews your petition and denies you the relief that you are seeking, you still have the right to a final hearing or you can waive that hearing.
Preparing for the Final Hearing
You may represent yourself or you can be represented by an attorney. Neighborhood Legal Services may represent you for free; their phone number is (724) 378-0595. You should call for an appointment the same day you receive your Temporary Order. You can also privately retain counsel. The Beaver County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service can refer you to an attorney experienced in this field; their phone number is (724) 728-4888.
After the Final Hearing: The Granting or Denial of a Final Order
If the Court issues a Final Protection Order, either after a hearing or if the defendant agrees to have an order entered against him / her, you should leave the Courthouse with a certified copy of the Final Order as well as a copy for any local law enforcement agency which needs to be notified.
If after a hearing the Court does not enter a Final Protection Order, the Temporary Order is no longer in effect. You have the right to appeal the Court’s decision. Your appeal rights and the time for filing an appeal should be discussed with your attorney.
Failure to Appear
If you fail to appear for the final hearing your petition will be dismissed and the Temporary Order is no longer in effect.
If the defendant fails to appear, you will still be required to provide testimony (and other evidence, if applicable) to prove grounds for a final order.
Violation of a Protection From Abuse Order
If the defendant violates the PFA Order, you should notify your local police department. You also have the ability to file a private complaint with your local MDJ if you believe the order has been violated.
A hearing will be conducted to determine if there has been a violation of the court order. If the violation is proven, the Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County may hold the defendant in Indirect Criminal Contempt which can result in a jail sentence for up to six (6) months and/or a fine not to exceed $1,000 and may include other relief set forth in the Protection From Abuse Act.
If you need emergency counseling or shelter, you may contact the Women’s Center of Beaver County by calling its 24-hour hotline at (724)775-0131.