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:
- Tried or has actuallt injuer, raped or, or sexually assualted you or your childern.
- Acted in a way that made you afraid of serious injury, including making threats towards you.
- Kept you somewhere against your will.
- Stalked you by repeating acts which reasonably made you fearful of bodily injury.
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:
- Petitioning the court for a temporary PFA Order.
- Appearance by the attorney with you at all the scheduled hearings.
- On-going services through continuances, settlement negotiations, and full hearings.
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.
- BWIC counselors will work with victims.
- A dective working through the District Attorney's office will investigate each attack and provide reports to the BWIC attorney and the district attorney.
- An assistant district attorney will prosecute whenever possible.
What measures of protection may I ask the judge to include in the PFA?
- Direct the batterer to stop threatening or hurting you and/or your children.
- Evict the batterer from the place you are living.
- Give you temporary custody of your children.
- Allow only supervised visitation of the children to the batterer.
- Order the batterer to give all weapons used or threatened to be used in the abuse to the sheriff, and stop the batterer from getting any other weapons.
- Stop the batterer from having direct contact with you and/or your children except during a court ordered supervised visitation.
- Direct the batterer to pay you for losses caused by the abuse including: medical, dental, and moving expenses; counseling costs; loss of wages or support; repair/replacement costs for damaged property, and other expenses.
- Order the batterer to pay support for you and your children, including payments toward health expenses and rent/mortgage payments.
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?
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.