You do your best to protect your children from all types of harm, but when you learn that one of your kids is being stalked or intimidated by some random person, it can be extremely frightening. The Internet makes it easier than ever for people from all over the world to contact anyone else with a social media account, and if your kids are involved at all with social media, they have probably already dealt with the occasional “troll” or nasty commenter.
Sometimes, however, things get out of hand, and what starts as a comment may turn into an extended period of attempts to contact or intimidate your child. Fortunately, Pennsylvania law provides one way for you to help your kids protect themselves from aggressive and unwelcome contacts like these.
The PFIA Order
There is a special type of protective order under Pennsylvania law called a “Protection From Intimidation Order.” Courts may issue these when the person seeking the protection is under 18 years old and the person against whom the order is directed is 18 or over. It applies when the older person is “harassing” or “stalking”, the younger one, as those terms are used in Pennsylvania law.
In particular, if someone is contacting your child in a “lewd, lascivious, threatening, or obscene” way or is communicating with them repeatedly, particularly in a way designed to make your child fearful, you may have grounds to ask the court to enter a PFIA order to protect your child.
Applying for a PFIA Order
The PFIA order is a court order that tells the adult to stop having contact with the under-18 child. Violation of the court order is a serious matter and can result in criminal liability. These orders can issue quickly and come in several forms. First, where situations support it, an “emergency” order may issue immediately, even when the courts are closed. This type of order will continue until the court opens and issues a “temporary” order. The temporary order is in place until a full hearing can be held on the request for an order, typically within two weeks of the request, when the court may order a “final” order after a hearing is scheduled and held on the request.
One important requirement of the PFIA order is that there must be no “legal relationship” between the minor child and the adult who is repeatedly contacting the child.
PFIA orders must be requested by the child's parent or guardian, acting on the child's behalf. The request must be filed in the county where the child resides, where the adult who is contacting the child lives, or where the intimidation took place.
How the Lento Law Firm Can Help
The Lento Law Firm Family Law Team has been helping families in Pennsylvania with protective orders for years. We understand the legal requirements for the different types of protective orders issued by Pennsylvania courts and can help you make sure your application is as strong and effective as possible. When it comes to protecting your child from online harassment, we are ready to move as quickly as possible to file and secure a PFIA order against any unrelated adult who is harassing or intimidating your child, whether through online communications, text messages, phone calls, or otherwise.
Don't wait if your child is being harassed by some rando! Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888.535.3686, or use our online contact form to set up a confidential consultation with the Lento Law Firm Family Law Team. We are ready and able to help you protect your child!