A PFA Can Ruin Your Life

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Dec 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

A Violator Goes to Prison

A law enforcement representative showing up at your front door, or at your workplace, is rarely good news. If that officer hands you a piece of paper called a PFA, that is definitely bad news—and what you do in the next ten days could change your whole life. You could lose your job, your home, your reputation, your professional license, or even the right to see your children.

Even if you receive the PFA from someone not in law enforcement, it has the full force of law behind it, and you should take it just as seriously.

What Exactly Is a PFA?

A PFA is a Protection from Abuse order, also known as a restraining order. It is a court order to immediately cease and desist any and all contact with the person(s) named in the PFA.

In Pennsylvania, a PFA is a civil matter—but any violation of the PFA is automatically a crime for which you could be arrested and jailed.

Conviction of a first violation is, at minimum, a first-degree misdemeanor, but depending on the nature of the violation, it could be escalated to a felony. Subsequent violations will be charged as felonies.

Burkholder Sentenced to 6 to 12 Years

In 2020, Troy Burkholder, 53, “repeatedly communicated with a victim causing fear of bodily injury and distress on two occasions. Burkholder had four prior convictions for violations of a PFA involving the same victim,” according to an October 13, 2021, press release from the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office.

Burkholder pleaded guilty. The two counts of violating a PFA each carried a sentence of three to six years that could be time served simultaneously. However, because of his prior convictions for PFA violations, Judge Merrill Spahn ordered the two terms to be served consecutively.

Burkholder is now serving 6 to 12 years in prison.

What to Do if You Receive a PFA

Breathe. Receiving a PFA can be very upsetting, but don't give in to impulsive emotions or actions. This is no time to lose your head—or your freedom. Don't be like Burkholder.

Read the PFA carefully. Follow the order exactly. Do not call, text, write or confront your accuser. Do not ask a friend or relative to contact your accuser. Don't violate the PFA, or your next encounter with law enforcement might involve handcuffs.

You might feel angry, hurt, confused, or even falsely accused. This is normal. Channel those emotions into building your defense because, in about ten days, you will have a chance to confront your accuser and clear your name—in court.

Be Ready to Defend Yourself

By its very nature, a PFA is a one-sided accusation. It may be inaccurate, misleading, unfair, or false. Therefore, it is only in effect until the “final hearing” before a judge. You will have a chance to tell your side of the story. You may present evidence, question your accuser, and call witnesses to testify on your behalf. You have the right to have an attorney.

Time is of the essence when you receive a PFA. You have less than two weeks to prepare to contest the PFA. An experienced PFA defense attorney from the LLF Law Firm can help you make your best case when you have so much at stake. Call the LLF Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us Today!

The LLF Law Firm Team has decades of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the LLF Law Firm today! Our Criminal Defense Team will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.