Berks Women In Crisis 'Committed to the elimination of interpersonal and institutional violence within our community'

What is a Protection from Abuse Order (PFA)?

It is a special restraining order given by the court. It is available to victims of domestic violence to prevent further abuse.

Who can get a PFA?

Anyone battered or threatened by a family member, former family member, or others who are dating or have dated.

What does the law mean by "abuse"?

You have been abused if someone has:

How much does a PFA cost?

Each county sets its own fees. No intital payment is required when you file. When a permanent PFA order is entered by the court, the batterer is usually ordered to pay all costs.

Do I need a lawyer?

No. However, getting assistance from a lawyer may be a good idea of a formal hearing is held, especially if the batterer will have a lawyer.

BWIC attorneys will represent all victims of domestic violence in Prtoection From Abuse matters at all hearings. There is no charge for these services. Representation by BWIC attorneys will include:

In addition to a legal representation by a BWIC attorney, the following services will also occur: The scope of this new of Berks Women In Crisis will allow more immediate relief and justice to be brought to victims of domestic and/or sexual violence.

What measures of protection may I ask the judge to include in the PFA?

What if the batterer violates the PFA?

Call the police. The police can arrest the batterer and a contempt hearing will be held. If foud in contempt, the batterer can be fined up to $1,000 and/or be jailed for up to six months.

Can I get a protection order and file criminal charges?

Yes, you can do bot at the same time.

How long may a PFA last?

The order can last for up to one year.

How do I get a PFA?

  1. Go to the Protection From Abuse Office on the 2nd floor of the Berks County Courthouse at 6th & Court Streets, in Reading. Fill out the forms with the dates of abuse, threats made, etc.
  2. After you complete the forms, the court staff will direct you to the judge's office or court room. Wait for the judge to talk with you and to sign the temporary PFA order. A hearing date will be set to make your PFA permamnent.
  3. You must take the temporary PFA to the Prothonotary's Office (2nd floor of the courthouse) to have it properly documented before the batterer can be served.. You will then take a copuy to the Sheriff's Department (3rd floor of the courthouse) to be served upon (delivered) to the batterer.
  4. Take a copy of the order to your children's school and to each of the police departments in the areas where you work and live. Always keep a copy with you.
Note: If the courthouse is closed, you can get an emergency PFA from a district justice. Contact your local district justice or Reading District Court at (610)478-6450, or call your local police department for imformation about where and when a district justice is open to hear your emergency PFA request.

Remember: If you don't feel safe, be prepared to leave home. Take clothing, keys, and any important papers. Call our 24-hour hotlines - (610)372-9540 or (610)372-7463 (En Español) if you need a place to stay.