Relationships are complicated, particularly when one or both parties are angry or wanting to end it. People say things they may not mean and do things they know they should not do. And in the heat of a fight or breakup, allegations of threats or assault can arise.
Determining whether these allegations are ultimately true or false takes time. Until that happens, though, you could be served with a Protection from Abuse order (PFA), also called a restraining order. Should you find yourself in this position, there are three critical things you must know.
- A PFA does not mean you are guilty of assault, abuse or other types of misconduct. A judge grants or denies temporary orders for protection based on an alleged victim’s statements. The process does not require a trial or allow the other party to give his or her side of a story. For final orders for protection, there will be a hearing where both sides can present their cases. And while PFAs will restrict you in terms of contact and access, they are not the same as a criminal conviction.
- Violating a PFA has serious consequences. Violating a PFA, however, is a crime. It can result in criminal charges and jail time, as well as other consequences such as loss of parental rights, loss of job and steep fines.
- There are different types and conditions of PFA orders. A PFA order reflects the individual circumstances and allegations. Depending on what these may be, a PFA could prohibit you from contacting, harassing or threatening the accuser or even your minor child. It might require you to move out of your house, give up custody of your children (if only temporarily), surrender your firearms and possibly even pay support to the alleged victim.
The relative ease with which people can get orders for protection does not always align with the considerable toll these orders have on the person who must abide by them. This is particularly true when the allegations behind an order are false or fabricated.
If you have received or feel you might receive a PFA, know that you have rights and legal options in this situation. You can call 814-833-2222 to discuss your options for protecting yourself with an attorney at Quinn Law Firm.