Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Protection from Abuse Orders


What is a Protection from Abuse Order?

A Protection from Abuse Order, also known as a PFA, is a civil court order that provides protection for an individual who has been abused, harassed, threatened, or stalked. The court order is signed by a judge, ordering the defendant to have no contact with the alleged victim, or face serious legal consequences.

The Office of Sheriff recognizes the seriousness of Protection from Abuse Orders and works very closely with our Courts and Plaintiff/Victims to serve all PFA's as expeditiously as possible.

Types of Protection from Abuse Orders

  1. Emergency Protection from Abuse Order
  2. Temporary Protection from Abuse Order
  3. Final Protection from Abuse Order
  4. Protection from Intimidation Order
  5. Protection from Sexual Violence & Intimidation Order

How Can I Obtain a Protection from Abuse Order?

Protection from Abuse Orders can be obtained by contacting one of the following:

  • Filing party's (Plaintiff) Attorney
  • Wise Options for Women (regardless of the name, they will also represent men with non-conflicting abuse issues as well) located at the YWCA, 815 West Fourth Street, Williamsport PA 17701. Phone number: (570) 322-4637
  • North Penn Legal Services located at Penn Tower, 25 West Third St. Suite 400, Williamsport PA 17701. Phone number: (570) 323-8741
  • Court Administrator's Office, located in the Lycoming County Courthouse, 48 West Third Street 4th Floor, Williamsport PA 17701. Phone number: (570) 327-2436

What Happens After the PFA is Signed by a Judge?

Once a PFA has been issued and signed by a judge, it must be filed with the Prothonotary's Office (Clerk of Courts) and delivered to The Sheriff's Office for service.

All PFAs to be served by The Sheriff's Office must be delivered in person by the Plaintiff or the Plaintiff's Representative. This is required to obtain any additional information and special circumstances regarding the PFA. This also helps to expedite the service of the PFA to the Defendant.


You Were Served With a PFA, What Now?

Q: Does this mean I am being arrested?

A: No. Just because you received a PFA does not mean you are receiving criminal charges for an arrest for criminal acts. If criminal acts have occurred in combination with a domestic violence situation, charges may be filed by the law enforcement agency where the criminal act occurred.

Q: When does the PFA become effective?

A: It is effective immediately when you are served the order. This means that there is an active temporary PFA granted against you. Any contact from that point on may result in a violation of the order and could have a penalty of up to 6 months in jail or up to a $1,000 fine, or both.

Q: How long is the PFA in effect?

A: A Temporary PFA is in effect for 1 year. A hearing will be scheduled within 10 business days after you have been served, to determine if a Final PFA will be granted. 

Q: What happens at the hearing scheduled within 10 business days?

A: At the hearing, you have the right to testify on your own behalf, present evidence, call witnesses, and cross-examine witnesses. After hearing the evidence presented, the presiding Judge will make a final ruling on the PFA. If the judge decides that there is enough evidence that a Final PFA be granted, a Final order can be granted for up to 36 months (3 years). If the Judge decides there is not enough evidence to grant a Final PFA, the Temporary PFA will be dismissed.

Q: Do I get an attorney?

A: Because this is a civil matter, an Attorney will not be appointed to you. You do have the right to contact an Attorney to represent you during the PFA hearing if you so choose. 



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