When a Protection From Abuse order is issued, at any level, violators of the order can be prosecuted with criminal charges. While every situation in a family is different, when it comes to domestic violence and PFA orders, Pennsylvania takes a very firm stance. At times someone may not even be aware that they are violating the terms of the PFA. The consequences of a PFA violation can mean fines, jail time, and a possible criminal record. A conviction, or even just an arrest, can make it difficult to seek out new employment, education, or even just a place to live. These are far-reaching and harsh consequences for a situation that may just be a misunderstanding between household members.
Penalties For Violating A PFA Order
Pennsylvania does not have an actual crime for violating a PFA order, instead, the charge of "indirect criminal contempt of court" will be used as the punishment for violating a PFA order. Contempt of court is entirely different than a normal criminal charge. Instead, these charges are presented and decided upon by a judge, rather than being settled in a jury trial or through a plea bargaining phase. Defendants are permitted the representation of an attorney, however, and in these situations, an attorney is far preferable to the alternative.
A criminal conviction for criminal contempt of court can be punished by up to 6 months of jail time, and fines between $300 and $1000. In addition, there will now be a criminal conviction on the defendant's record. Criminal convictions can affect more than just a person's record. PFA violations can also interfere with other matters of Family Law that a defendant may be engaged in
How A PFA Violation Can Affect Other Matters Of Family Law
Oftentimes, if a person is engaged in other matters of Family Law when they are charged with violating a PFA order, the situation can become incredibly complicated. If a person is found to have violated a PFA order, custody battles, and separation agreements can be thrown into disarray. Criminal charges or convictions may result in limited custody, or no custody whatsoever. On top of this, if a person is facing criminal domestic violence charges in addition to their PFA violation, this matter may come up against them in court for those charges.
When dealing with a PFA violation it is imperative that a person immediately gets in touch with an attorney on what the best manner of proceeding is. An attorney highly experienced in criminal defense can ensure that a defendant's rights are protected when it comes down to negotiating and resolving charges in a courtroom. There is little to be gained from attempting to handle the matter alone, as a judge is likely to consider charges much more harshly than a prosecutor or a jury.
If you or a loved one is facing PFA violation charges contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.