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What Is an Order of Protection from Abuse?

depressed woman abuse victim

A victim of domestic violence in Pennsylvania has the right to file a petition in court for an order of protection. The court will schedule a hearing to take place within 10 days of the filing. At this hearing, the defendant may present evidence to push back against the claims the plaintiff is making. If the plaintiff can sufficiently prove allegations of abuse, the court will grant an order of protection.

Plaintiffs may also file for temporary orders of protection when there are allegations that immediate danger exists. In such a case, the defendant is not notified of the hearing or petition. If the judge agrees that an immediate danger exists, they will issue a temporary order of protection with provisions the judge feels necessary to prevent abuse. This order remains in effect until there has been a hearing with the defendant, after which the order will be extended, modified or revoked.

Common provisions in orders of protection include the following:

  • Prohibits the defendant from abusing the plaintiff and/or any minor children involved
  • Awards sole possession of the home to the plaintiff or orders the defendant to find suitable housing for the plaintiff
  • Arranges financial support paid by the defendant to the plaintiff and minor children
  • Awards temporary custody or visitation rights of a minor child
  • Requires the defendant to temporarily hand over to the police any firearms or weapons they own if they used or threatened to use them against the plaintiff
  • Bars the defendant from harassing the plaintiff in any way
  • Requires that the defendant pay for losses stemming from incidents of domestic abuse, including medical expenses, relocation, counseling and loss of earnings
  • Offers  additional relief the plaintiff has sought

In Pennsylvania, final orders of protection may last up to three years, a period that could be extended if the court determines the defendant committed another act of abuse after the order first went into effect.

To learn more about orders of protection and how you can defend yourself from charges of domestic violence, work with a skilled Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer at The Law Offices of David Jay Glassman. You can reach us online or call 215-563-7100.