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Advising Clients In Abuse Protection Cases

If you have been abused by, or have been accused of abuse, a family or household member or a current or former sexual or intimate partner under the Protection From Abuse (PFA) Act, it is important to consult with an attorney experienced in handling PFA matters.

At Shay, Santee, Kelhart & Deschler LLC in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, we have decades of experience representing both plaintiffs and defendants in PFA cases. We can help you protect your rights and get the protection you need to prevent further abuse.

Abuse Surfaces In Different Ways And Circumstances

The PFA Act defines “abuse” as the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between family or household members, sexual or intimate partners or persons who share biological parenthood:

  • Causing or attempting to cause bodily injury, serious bodily injury, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault or incest with or without a deadly weapon
  • Placing another in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury
  • False imprisonment
  • Physically or sexually abusing minor children
  • Knowingly engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts toward another person, including following the person without proper authority under circumstances which place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury

A victim of abuse may file a petition for a protective order in the court of common pleas of the county in which the plaintiff lives or where the abuse occurred. There are no fees involved in filing a PFA petition. In the case of an emergency, if the common pleas court is closed, an individual may file an emergency petition with his or her local district magistrate.  You may call your local police to find out how this is done. Further, an act of abuse may give rise to criminal charges against the abuser. You can always contact the police who may conduct an investigation to determine if criminal charges should be brought against an abuser.

Protection Orders Can Remain In Place For Lengthy Periods

A PFA defendant should know that statements made by him/her in a PFA proceeding can be used against him/her in a criminal case. Therefore, defendants will generally want their criminal charges to be resolved before the PFA case proceeds. An attorney experienced in handling PFA cases will understand this and can help you postpone any PFA hearing until your criminal charges are resolved.

Both victims of abuse and persons accused of abuse need to be aware of the types of relief that a court can award in a PFA case. If the court finds that there has been abuse, it can order the defendant not to have contact with the victim and their minor children, and it can also evict the defendant from the common home and, under certain circumstances, order the defendant to relinquish any firearms. A protection order can be kept in place for as many as three years.

Let Us Represent You; Schedule A Consultation

Know your rights. Whether you are a victim of abuse or the defendant in a PFA case, you should consult an attorney well-versed in handling PFA matters to ensure that you receive the very best legal representation. Shay, Santee, Kelhart & Deschler LLC in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is a skilled group of family law attorneys representing domestic abuse victims and the people who are accused of domestic abuse. For an initial consultation, please fill out this online form or call 610-295-5328.