Teens Seeking Protection From Abuse Orders

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In Pennsylvania, a person under the age of 18 is not permitted to file for a Protection From Abuse order (PFA) on their own; however the Protection From Abuse Act allows a parent, adult household member, or guardian to file on behalf of the minor.

In addition to the requirement that a parent, adult household member, or guardian file on behalf of a minor, they must also be present for approval of any settlement agreements entered into on the minor’s behalf.

When the abuser is also a minor, the Protection From Abuse order can be filed against him/her in the same manner that one would file against an adult. The abuser does not need to have a parent, or guardian representing him or her in order to be served with a Protection From Abuse order. However they should have a parent or guardian present during Protection From Abuse proceedings.

Pennsylvania courts can enter a Protection From Abuse order when the parties’ relationship is only a dating relationship. The Protection From Abuse Act covers relationships that involve “current or former sexual or intimate partners.” The Superior Court has ruled that a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship qualifies as an intimate partner relationship.

Q: What is a PFA?
A: PFA means “Protection for Abuse.” A PFA order is issued by the Court as a means to protect a person against being abused as defined under the PFA Act.

Q: What is abuse under the PFA Act?
A: Under the Protection From Abuse Act, abuse is defined as physical abuse, a threat which places you in immediate fear of physical injury, or a pattern of conduct which places you in immediate fear of physical injury.

Q: Who can get a PFA?
A: In order to petition the Court for a PFA, you must be, or have been, in a relationship with or a family member of the person against whom you want to file.

Q: What can a PFA prohibit?
A: The Protection Order can do the following:

  • Prohibit abusive conduct.
  • Remove the abuser from your residence.
  • Other provisions which the Judge deems appropriate.

Q:How does the PFA process work?
A: A Temporary Order stays in effect until the hearing for the permanent PFA is held. You can report directly to the Court of Common Pleas during business hours to file for a temporary order.

  • The hearing date is scheduled when you receive the temporary PFA.
  • A Permanent Order may be issued as a result of the hearing. The Permanent Order is issued for up to three years.

Q: What are the steps to get a Permanent PFA Order?
A: To file for a PFA Order you must:

  • Complete a petition for a Temporary PFA at the Lawyer Referral Office/PFA office located on the 3rd Floor of the Lawrence County Courthouse.
  • Present the petition to the Judge.
  • File the PFA petition and Temporary Order in the Prothonotary’s office, and
  • Take copies of the PFA order to your local Police department and to the County Sheriff department. You will be scheduled for a permanent PFA hearing the week following the issuance of the temporary order.

Obtaining a Temporary PFA Order may require several hours to accomplish. The time needed is dependent upon the availability of the Judge. In addition, you will also need to be available for several hours or perhaps all day to appear in Court on the date of your hearing for a Permanent PFA Order. You should make suitable arrangements with your employer and child care provider if necessary.

Q: What is an indirect criminal contempt?
A: An indirect criminal contempt is a violation of one or more of the non-economic conditions placed on the defendant by an emergency, temporary, or permanent PFA order.

Q:If a violation of a PFA occurs, what should be done?
A: Phone the police immediately if the person against whom your PFA is ordered violates the PFA order. Based on the type of violation and evidence, the police will file a complaint. If the police file a complaint, the petition will proceed to the Court of Common Pleas. Once the defendant is arrested and arraigned, the victim will be notified by the Court Administrator’s office of the date and time of the hearing for the violation. The hearing is held before the Court of Common Pleas Judge.

Q: What other resources are available to assist with the PFA process and counseling in partner abuse situations?
A: In any emergency, call 911. The police will assist you and provide information on how to get an emergency PFA and will file a report. For assistance in petitioning for a PFA and counseling assistance: Call the Crisis Shelter of Lawrence County’s 24 hour hotline at 724.656.STOP or visit our live chat now.