In Pennsylvania, victims of domestic abuse have a way to seek protection via a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order. Although this option exists, domestic abuse and gun-related domestic abuse are still on the rise in Pennsylvania's capital city. A recent City Council meeting about the issue could lead to changes with the PFA, which would impact both victims seeking protection and those who are served with PFAs.
Domestic Violence Involving Guns Increased in Philadelphia
In a recent meeting, the Philadelphia City Council discussed intimate partner violence involving guns, as this specific type of domestic abuse is increasing to a worrying degree.
Some of the following statistics about domestic abuse and gun violence in Philadelphia prompted City Council to hold a public hearing on the issue:
- In 2021, 70 of the 562 murders in Philadelphia were women, and some of them resulted from domestic disputes
- Between 2017 and 2021, domestic assaults increased by 18% in the city. During the same period, domestic assaults with a gun increased by 100%
- Nationally, homicides involving intimate partners rose by 25% in 2020 compared with 2019
At the public hearing, council members were able to hear suggestions about how to combat gun-fueled violence against women, as well as firsthand accounts from victims of domestic abuse. Several proposals involved reforms to PFAs, which are Pennsylvania's version of restraining orders for domestic partners.
One such recommendation was creating a registry of people who have had their guns confiscated after receiving a PFA, as being served with a PFA requires you to relinquish your weapons or gun permit. Other suggested reforms centered on better implementing PFAs by holding status hearings to ensure a PFA is being enforced and including specific language about firearms on paper PFAs to make the rule clearer.
How Protection From Abuse Orders Help
A PFA is an order signed by a judge that offers protection to someone who may be subject to domestic abuse. PFAs can cover a variety of situations and may force an individual to:
- Stop abusing, threatening, harassing, or stalking someone
- Leave the house they share with the victim
- Stop contacting the victim
- Relinquish weapons or gun permits
- Attend a counseling program
- Grant temporary child custody or spousal support to the victim
- Reimburse the victim for expenses incurred as a result of the abuse
If someone who has been served with a PFA violates the rules, the victim can call the police and have them arrested. This is the main method of enforcement of PFAs, and in some situations, it may not be enough. The suggestions put forward at the Philadelphia City Council meeting in March would strengthen PFA enforcement, helping to ensure the victim has the protection they require.
Filing for a PFA or defending yourself after having been served a PFA are complicated matters to navigate on your own. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm can help you get the protection and guidance you need. Contact us by calling 888-535-3686 today.
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