Individuals who accuse others of harassment, abuse or domestic violence may be able to request that a judge issue a protective order against the alleged perpetrator of such acts. While such an order has always carried with it certain guidelines that a defendant must follow in order to remain in compliance with it, an additional restriction was added on Jan. 1.
A hearing must be held so a judge can hear why they should issue a protective order within 10 days of a petition originally being filed. Courts are obliged to set this hearing by law under 23 Pa..C.S.A. Sec. 6017 of the Protection From Abuse Act (PFA).
Once ordered, a defendant may be restricted from coming within a certain distance of a plaintiff. They may also be told to avoid contacting them by phone. In some cases, it's even possible for a defendant to be restricted from interacting with their children if they reside in the same home where their victim lives.
Pennsylvania legislators added a new restriction to an already long list of things that individuals with protection orders filed against them cannot do. On Jan. 1, it became illegal for defendants in these types of cases to have access to weapons.
Many defendants in the past would simply turn over their weapons to other family members or friends for safekeeping. They're now required to turn any that they own over to an attorney or police within 24 hours of a protection order being filed against them.
In addition to having to pay court costs, losing their right to bear arms and often being forced to vacate their home, individuals with protection orders filed against them may face an uphill battle if they want to increase visitation time with their kids or gain primary custody of them.
A family law attorney can help answer questions you may have regarding protection orders, how they affect your ability to gain custody and whether you should fight them. They can also advise you of your right to get your belongings back if you've been evicted from your home.