Over the past six years, I have dealt with numerous Protection From Abuse (PFA) cases, from both the side of the victim and the side of the defendant. Below is a list of some of the most frequently asked questions I get related to PFAs:
What is a PFA?
A PFA stands for Protection From Abuse. It is a civil procedure available to someone who is a victim of domestic violence from an intimate partner, household member, or family member. Abuse is defined as physical injury or the threat of physical injury.
What kinds of PFAs are there?
A victim of domestic violence can apply for a PFA. During the initial process he or she may be granted a temporary PFA ex-parte, meaning they tell their side of the story to the judge without the defendant being present. The temporary PFA will only last until there is an opportunity to have a hearing on the issue and the defendant has a chance to be present and defend against the allegations from the victim. A permanent PFA can be entered after a hearing or agreement between the parties.
How long does a PFA last?
A PFA is a court order for no contact between the victim and the defendant for a period of time up to 36 months. The length of time can vary depending on the circumstances, the needs of the victim, and the judge’s decision.
Will a PFA show up on a background check?
A PFA is a civil matter, so it will not show up on a criminal background check. For Federal Employees, it may be considered when applying or recertifying your security clearances.
Will a PFA prohibit me from owning firearms?
Typically, as a PFA defendant you will not be permitted to have firearms while the PFA exists. However, once the PFA ends, there is no future prohibition on you owning or possessing a firearm.
Will a PFA affect my custody order?
If a PFA involves the parents of a child subject to a custody order, a judge may temporarily alter the custody order in light of allegations contained in a PFA. A PFA is not the way to get a permanent modification to a custody order, but will provide a temporary alternate schedule meant to give both parties enough time to address the issue through the appropriate custody procedures.
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