Also known as a restraining order, a Protection From Abuse order (PFA) is intended to protect victims of domestic violence. If you have been charged with a PFA violation, a criminal defense attorney can help you understand and protect your rights and advise you of your options. Whether you believe it is valid or not, it is critical to follow all the requirements of a PFA, which usually prohibits all contact with the person who filed it against you.
Penalties for Violating a PFA in Pennsylvania
Depending on the circumstances, PFA violations can result in jail time, costly fines, and a criminal record. You may be held in contempt of court and the length of time the PFA is in effect may be extended by the court. Being held in contempt of court can have significant consequences, including automatic forfeiture of your right to a jury trial.
If you are found guilty of a PFA violation in Pennsylvania, penalties may include a fine of $300 to $1,000, and up to six months in jail or six months of probation. Any firearms you own can be permanently confiscated. If you committed any other crimes while violating a PFA, you can face additional penalties if you are convicted of those as well.
In Pennsylvania, a PFA violation is considered an “indirect criminal contempt of court,” and can even form the basis of its own criminal charge. Even though a judge will decide your fate instead of a jury, having a domestic violence lawyer represent your interests in court gives you a much better chance of avoiding jail time and other penalties.
How a PFA Violation Conviction Can Affect Other Aspects of Your Life
Violating a PFA can also have an impact on other criminal or civil charges you may be facing. For instance, if you are the subject of a PFA and you are also charged with stalking, if you contact the alleged victim, a prosecutor will likely use the violation to demonstrate that you are continuing the harassment. PFA violations that occur during ongoing child custody or divorce cases can complicate matters and result in a court limiting the custodial rights of the parent accused of violating the PFA.
A criminal conviction of any kind can have far-reaching, long-term repercussions. In addition to impacting family law issues like child custody, a conviction for a PFA violation may adversely affect employment and housing opportunities and may even result in revocation of any professional licenses you hold. If you’re convicted of a crime like sexual assault, you may be required to register as a sex offender as well. Having an experienced sex crimes lawyer by your side is critical to ensuring your rights are protected. An attorney can negotiate with prosecutors to come to an agreement to have charges reduced or dismissed, and fight for a not guilty verdict in court if necessary.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney
Being charged with a PFA violation or other crimes can be stressful and overwhelming. Our seasoned team of defense attorneys, drug crime lawyers and family law attorneys provide top-notch representation that can cover any legal problem you may be facing.