Violating a Protection from Abuse order (PFA) can have serious consequences, including substantial fines and jail time. Even if you are not convicted, being charged with a PFA violation can hamper your ability to find a job or housing. If you have been charged with violating a PFA, finding local criminal lawyers to assist you with your case is critical to protecting your rights.
Pennsylvania Law and PFAs
Although a PFA can be intrusive, it is important to keep in mind that Pennsylvania courts take these matters very seriously. Even if you are unaware that something you did resulted in a violation of a restraining order, the court may still pursue criminal charges. For example, if your spouse or partner obtains a temporary PFA against you and you call or text them with a question related to your children, you are in violation of the order even though your communication is not threatening or harassing.
Pennsylvania law can be confusing. The commonwealth does not specify this crime as a violation of a PFA. The charge you will most likely face is indirect criminal contempt of court. Unlike other criminal charges, this charge is presented and ruled upon by a judge instead of being settled through a plea agreement or in a jury trial. When your freedom is on the line, it is well worth the time and money to seek counsel from experienced attorneys who are well-versed in handling cases involving PFA violations.
Penalties for Criminal Contempt of Court
A conviction for criminal contempt of court can result in six months of jail time, probation, and fines ranging from $300 to $1000. You will have a criminal conviction on your record that will appear on background checks. You may even lose custody of or visitation with your children. In addition, a temporary PFA typically becomes a permanent PFA for up to 3 years if you violate the order.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
The best way to understand what happens when you violate a restraining order is to hire a West Chester criminal attorney as soon as you are served with a temporary PFA. Your lawyer can explain the specifics of the PFA and advise you on how to avoid any violations. They can also represent you at the initial hearing, which will be scheduled within 10 business days. At this hearing, you will have an opportunity to present your side of the story. If you have been falsely accused of domestic violence, your attorney can help you gather evidence and develop a strategy to prove it.
If you have been charged with violating a PFA, our criminal defense lawyers and family law attorneys at Carosella & Associates provide top-notch legal representation you can trust.