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Are PFAs in the Public Record?

Posted by Joseph Lento | Oct 27, 2022 | 0 Comments

A Protection from Abuse (PFA) Order is a legal tool intended to protect domestic violence victims from abuse. Also known as a Restraining Order, a PFA can greatly impact a person's life, whether you have requested the order or have been served with one. In either case, you may prefer as few people as possible to know about it, which may leave you wondering: Can someone find a PFA in the public record?

Protection From Abuse Orders Are Publicly Available

In Pennsylvania, a PFA is part of the public record, but it is not necessarily easily accessible to all. A PFA is a civil order, not a criminal one. That means if an employer or landlord is running a criminal history background check, the PFA generally will not appear. That said, a PFA can be found in civil court records.

Virtually anyone–potential employers, schools, background check companies, landlords, and others–can access the order upon request. PFA case names in the relevant county court database must first be searched to find the PFA proceeding. Afterward, the requesting party must submit a petition from the appropriate Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas. Because courts usually do not dispose of files, the requester can obtain old and even expired PFAs. Further, the requester will not only be able to access the PFA but obtain any court pleadings, papers, or other orders associated with the case.

A PFA will also appear in a state-wide registration called the Protection from Abuse Database, which was formed under Section 6105(e) of the Pennsylvania Protection from Abuse Act in 1997. State and local police use the database to research and enforce orders again registered defendants. New, old, and expired PFAs can be retrieved, but the database is available to law enforcement exclusively.

While PFAs orders are not necessarily easy to obtain, any party to an order should assume that the order can and will be discovered by anyone who diligently looks for it.

PFAs in Criminal History Records

A PFA can appear in a criminal history background check under certain circumstances. If a defendant violates a PFA, even by accident, they can be immediately arrested for criminal contempt. A criminal contempt conviction carries a penalty of up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. The conviction will also appear on the offender's criminal history record, which will accordingly reveal the existence of a PFA. Defendants should therefore take all precautions to avoid violating the PFA, as not only will it appear on their criminal record, but it'll make the PFA easier to find.

A Pennsylvania Family Law Lawyer Can Help With Your Restraining Order

If you are seeking a Pennsylvania Protection from Abuse order or you've just been served with one, you need an experienced attorney in your corner to defend your rights. Our Family Law Team has assisted many families in dealing with PFAs and knows how to fight for the best results possible. Contact the LLF Law Firm today by calling 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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The LLF Law Firm has unparalleled experience practicing Family Law in Pennsylvania. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you and your family, contact our offices today. Our Family Law Team will go above and beyond the needs for any client and fight for what is fair.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.

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