A Dangerous Flaw in Pennsylvania’s Protection From Abuse Orders

Posted by Joseph Lento | Mar 22, 2024 | 0 Comments

A Pittsburgh TV news report highlights “a dangerous flaw” regarding the lack of confidentiality in residential addresses for some Protection from Abuse Orders (“PFA”). The PFA program was designed to protect domestic abuse victims and stalking victims. Its flaw appears when it comes to abuse victims who own their own homes. Their home ownership is a matter of public record; therefore, they cannot be given the full protection of privacy under a PFA. If you are a victim of domestic abuse or stalking, then contact the Family Law Team at the LLF Law Firm at 888-535-3686.  

The Gap in Protection Is Surprisingly Wide 

Homeownership includes information contained in recorded deeds and in real estate tax records connected to the property. In contrast, rental information is generally not available online. Real estate titles, tax records, and voting records are available to the general public online. The victim profiled in the news story had been very protective of all her personal information. She was particularly concerned about her address because she knew her life was in danger. All her efforts were in vain on the day her address became identified through registering to vote. Her stalker was then able to obtain her address. 

The Flaw Can Be Eliminated by Corrective Legislation 

The purpose of a final PFA order is to provide protection to victims of domestic violence or stalking. The degree of protection for victims of domestic violence or stalking was not intended to be based upon whether the victim owns or rents their residence.  

In the TV news report, Pennsylvania Representative Emily Kinkead says that she will pursue co-sponsorship of corrective legislation in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. “It's surprising to me; it seems like we should have fixed this a while ago. The idea that we went as far as protecting people's rental addresses, but we can't protect the home addresses, the homes they own, that seems like a significant oversight,” Kinkead said. “I think the next step is I start circulating a co-sponsorship memo and try to get my colleagues to sign on to something to fix this, I'm ready to do it. I think this is something that is overdue.”  Pennsylvania could see corrective legislation in 2024. 

Seek the Greatest Degree of Protection with a PFA Order 

A PFA order can provide protection and peace of mind to a victim of domestic violence or stalking. A PFA order can be crafted to provide the greatest confidentiality for all personal information, including the confidentiality of a home address, regardless of whether the victim owns or rents their home. Contact the Family Law Team at the LLF Law Firm at 888-535-3686.   

About the Author

Joseph Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a veteran of one of the nation's busiest family courts with nearly 20 years' experience passionately helping families. By day, he worked in the trenches of family court, and at night, he studied the law. He helped countless families while working at family court, and he went on to become an attorney, dedicating his law practice to continuing the work he started years earlier. Mr. Lento's experience both behind the scenes and on the front lines allows him to understand a client's family law matter from all angles, and allows him to find and employ the most effective strategies to get favorable outcomes for any client. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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