Domestic Violence & PFA Attorneys Serving Lehigh & Northampton Counties and the Cities of Easton, Allentown & Bethlehem
Our PFA & Domestic Violence Attorneys have extensive experience representing both the abused and those accused of abuse. PFA Laws in Pennsylvania straddle between criminal and family law. Our Lehigh Valley Criminal Defense Attorneys & Easton Family Law Lawyers are here to assist. We have provided educational materials to other law firms to assist them in their representation in these matters and regularly appear at the Lehigh and Northampton County PFA Office.
Pennsylvania has some of the most far-reaching and effective domestic violence laws in the country. While our PFA and Criminal laws are very effective at curbing Domestic Violence they are also subject gamesmanship and abuse of process. In short, while Pennsylvania’s PFA laws are effective, they can often crush an innocent litigant. A PFA lawyer is skilled at navigating this system and defending against false PFAs while prosecuting real acts of violence.
Regardless of whether you have been the victim of Domestic Violence or have been falsely accused of abusing a sexual partner or family member, contact our Lehigh and Northampton County PFA office today for help.
In cases where a person needs immediate protection and the courts are not open, the person can call 911 and be put in contact with the on-duty Magistrate who has the power to issue a temporary PFA. These types of PFA are only to be sought after 4:30 p.m. on weekdays or anytime over the weekend. These PFAs are only effective until the Court reopens and the person must then file for an ex-parte PFA once the courts reopen.
An “ex parte” order is issued by the Court when a person seeking a PFA appears in Court and seeks relief from abuse. The Judge will hear only the information provided by the person seeking the PFA and the person whom the PFA is against will have no opportunity to dispute this information. If the Judge believes there MAY be enough evidence to warrant a PFA he or she will sign a temporary Order prohibiting the alleged abuser from making any contact with the alleged victim. The sheriffs department will serve the PFA defendant with the PFA Order and may also confiscate any firearm from the defendant. The sheriffs may also temporarily evict the defendant from the plaintiff’s residence. An initial ex parte PFA is temporary in nature and the Court must schedule a full hearing shortly after issuing it. Because the defendant does not have a full and fair hearing, these PFAa may be expunged.
After an ex-parte PFA has been filed, the PFA Court will schedule a final PFA hearing where both sides will have an opportunity to be heard. A final PFA can last up to three (3) years and can have substantial consequences for the defendant. It is therefore highly advisable to retain on attorney for a final PFA hearing. After both sides have had a chance to present evidence, the Court will grant or deny a final Protection from Abuse Order.
When you or the defendant live in Northampton County you may file for a PFA by going to the Northampton County PFA office located in the “Lower Level” of the Northampton County Courthouse, 669 Washington Street, Easton, Pennsylvania 18042. The PFA intake staff will step you through the process and will escort you to Courtroom 4 where PFA hearings are held everyday at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. You should arrive at least a half hour earlier than either of these two time to fill out the required paperwork
Lehigh County hosts its PFA hearings at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. every weekday. To file for a PFA you should go to the Lehigh County Courthouse and enter the Lehigh County PFA Office. The clerical staff there will help you in filling out the required paperwork. To attend the 10:30 a.m. hearing you should arrive no later than 9:15 a.m. To attend the 1:30 p.m. hearing list you should arrive no later than 12:15 p.m.
If you don’t make it to the PFA Office in the Courthouse in time, in either county, you should contact your local Magisterial District Judge if its between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. during a weekday. If its after 4:00 p.m. or during the weekend, you should contact 911 and the operator will put you in contact with the on-duty MDJ.
The consequences of having a Final PFA entered against you can be far reaching. It is important to understand that when a judge grants a Final PFA, after a hearing, they have made a “finding of abuse.” That finding of abuse can be used against a defendant in Custody Cases. The finding of abuse can have negative immigration consequences and can prohibit the ownership of firearms.
Additionally, the PFA act allows the Judge to evict someone from their home for up to three years, to enter a child custody order and to order the payment of financial support. Finally, the entry of a Final PFA may eventually lead to charges of contempt and incarceration.
The Easton PFA attorneys in our Domestic Violence Law Office can minimize or remove many of these collateral consequences even in cases where a Final Order is eventually granted.
PFA & Domestic Violence Attorneys in our Easton office are skilled at both prosecuting and defending Contempt of PFA Orders, or PFA Contempts. Failing to abide by a PFA Order is a criminal offense and is punishable by up to six (6) months of incarceration and substantial fines.
Our Easton PFA attorneys handle all matters of criminal defense and are therefore highly prepared to defend against PFA contempts. We have also previously worked as prosecutors and therefore well equipped to prosecute PFA contempts as well.
As with any legal matter, you don’t need an attorney for a Protection from Abuse Order but it is highly advisable. PFAs have specific requirements and defenses only an experience attorney will be aware of.
We do not offer a free consultation, however we offer a 30 minute PFA consultation in our Easton Law Office at a minimal charge.
Shopping for the best PFA Attorney is like shopping for anything else. The best PFA lawyer for you may not be the best lawyer for someone else. Some clients prefer an attorney who will drag the other party through the mud even it it is not in your best interests. Other clients prefer an attorney who can also act as their personal and emotional counselor throughout the case.
More than most other fields in the legal profession, family lawyers develop a reputation amongst their peers. If you’re looking for the best family attorney for your particular goals, ask your friends in the community about a particular family lawyer’s reputation.
Local Domestic Violence shelters may be able to help you find a free or low budget PFA attorney if you are the victim of domestic violence
Our attorneys act as pro bono awyers for from time to time. However, any application for pro-bono services must be made through the shelter, not through us.
Yes, and in many cases this may be the best option but you should never do so without consulting with an attorney.
There is no cost in filing a PFA but the Court can fine you if it believes you filed in bad faith. If you are a defendant the Court will fine you approximately $250 if it enters a Final PFA against you.
Under the PFA Act, an abuser can be immediately removed from your home or apartment by the sheriffs. This is true even if they are the current owner of the property.
The PFA Court can award a victim custody of his or her joint children.
You should file a PFA contempt and contact our Easton PFA Attorneys immediately. Your safety is the highest concern.
The entry of a final PFA Order can have far ranging consequences, including:
Eviction from One’s Home
Loss of legal immigration status
Loss of Firearm Rights
Entry of Child Custody Order
Entry of a financial Support Order
Yes, a PFA can evict you from your home even if your are the sole owner. An experienced PFA Attorney can help assure this doesn’t happen.
The response to a PFA complaint should be quick and decisive. However, the response to and defense of a PFA is very case specific. In many cases we may recommend going on the offensive and filing a cross-petition alleging that the person filing the original complaint is actually the perpetrator of the abuse. In other case, it may be in your best interest to forego a hearing and enter into a PFA by agreement (consent order) rather than by court order. Only a skilled PFA defense attorney can ascertain the best defense to your particular case.
PFA orders may be expunged in limited circumstances. If an ex parte, or temporary, PFA was entered but no final PFA order was entered, due to dismissal or withdrawal, we can likely help to have those records expunged. If a Final PFA order was entered by agreement and without a finding of abuse, we can likely our clients expunge these as well. If a Final PFA was entered and there was a finding of abuse, we may be able to help but these cases present more difficult issues and the chances of prevailing may be lower. Meet with one of our PFA attorneys in Easton today for an evaluation of your case.