Young Marr & Associates can defend you against accusations of violating a protection from abuse (PFA) order in Bucks County, PA. In Pennsylvania, violating this order can have serious consequences. PFA orders are among one of the most distressing and confusing legal mechanisms because a violation is considered “criminal contempt.” These orders can be especially heartbreaking in situations where the family is involved and property is owned jointly with the protected party or parties. If you violate the PFA order, you need a lawyer to fight for you, apprise you as to the ways to protect yourself, and keep you from getting into subsequent legal troubles.
At the law offices of Young Marr & Associates, you will have a team of attorneys fighting by your side. They are experienced in representing clients accused of violating PFA orders in Bucks County, PA, which has its own legal rules and requirements. If a violation occurs, they will advocate forcefully on your behalf and tell your side of the story. To learn more about how to proceed if you received an order to attend a criminal contempt hearing, contact us at (215) 372-8667.
Pennsylvania Violation of a Protection from Abuse Order
PFA orders in Pennsylvania are granted in situations where the petitioner claims to be abused or intimidated. A PFA order will restrict you from having contact with the protected party, and a violation will result in your arrest with charges of what is known as “indirect criminal contempt.”
The protected parties are typically family members, friends, or co-workers. You must abide by the PFA’s restrictions, even there are broad restrictions, including:
Harsh Contact Prohibition
When a PFA order contains language prohibiting contact in any location, if you are found in the same location as the protected party, you can be charged with violating a protective order, even if the other party initiated the contact. It is common for protected parties to initiate contact and create all sorts of legal trouble for defendants. A qualified lawyer can explain what this means in your case.
Prohibited communication by telephone, letter or “other means” is a common restriction. Letters, emails, and texts are considered forms of communication. Anyone subject to this type of limitation needs to understand the legal implications of making even the most innocent attempt to reach out. In the recent case of Commonwealth v. Olivo (2019), Facebook posts qualified as prohibited contact with respect to a PFA violation.
Distance and places where parties are allowed to be at the same time should be spelled out clearly in the order. If you have questions, your attorney can explain the implications at greater length.
Statutory Three-Year Limitation
The prohibited contact must have a time limit. In Pennsylvania, there is a maximum statutory period of three years, subject to extension depending on the circumstances.
What You Need to Know About Indirect Criminal Contempt Hearings
If you are arrested for violating a PFA, you need a lawyer representing you. Bail will be set to secure your presence at the hearing. If you fail to appear, what is known as a “bench warrant” will be ordered for your arrest. Your freedom and lifestyle are at stake.
The hearing must be held within 10 business days. There is no right to jury trial in these instances. Your case will be brought before a magisterial district judge for southeastern Pennsylvania, where you will need someone to present your side and advocate on your behalf.
Penalties for Violating a Protective Order
A criminal contempt of court conviction can be punished by six months in jail and fines between $300 and $1,000. However, if you are charged with multiple counts, you can be incarcerated for a much longer period. In addition, some judges will order steep fines, including payment of court costs.
Each time you violate the PFA order will be considered a “count” that can have a cumulative effect. The accumulation of counts is likely to impact the overall sentence. Also, the 3-year PFA order is automatically renewed for another term if you are convicted of contempt of court. A qualified attorney can explain these legal concepts and help you through this difficult process.
High Legal Standard of Indirect Criminal Contempt
One of the most common circumstances of individuals facing charges for violating a protective order is based on misunderstandings about the order. Pennsylvania law requires the prosecution to show the following legal elements to establish a case against you for indirect criminal contempt:
- The PFA order was definite, clear, and specific, leaving no doubt as to the conduct prohibited.
- You had notice of the order.
- Your actions were voluntary.
- You must have acted with wrongful intent.
v. Brumbaugh (2007)
There are various intricate legal concepts in the elements listed above that an experienced attorney can argue on your behalf. Your attorney will go over the facts surrounding your case to help you prepare and know what to expect at the hearing.
A Bucks County Violation of Protective Order Lawyer You Can Trust
The attorneys of Young Marr & Associates will fight for your case. They will defend and uphold your rights and convey your side of the story effectively. While your life may be affected by the events leading to the issuance of a PFA order, a violation of that order can have a further impact on your life, and a judge can order additional restrictions against you. With so many rights at stake, you need aggressive and proactive legal counsel. Call us at (215) 372-8667 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.