What Is an ICC?

An ICC is an indirect criminal complaint for violating a PFA order. An ICC authorizes the court to fine and jail the PFA defendant whom the court finds violated the PFA order. An ICC is a very serious matter requiring prompt, aggressive, and effective attorney defense. Retain expert Pennsylvania PFA defense attorneys on our Criminal Law Team to represent you if you face an ICC. Indeed, retain and consult with our Criminal Law Team before facing an ICC to help you challenge the PFA request or to petition to modify your PFA order before any violation.

Why PFA Violations Are “Indirect” Contempt. Contempt of court typically involves violation of a court order. Contempt of court sometimes occurs in the courtroom, in the judge's presence, such as when a party or other person refuses to sit down, remain quiet, or leave the courtroom as the judge directs. Contempt occurring in the judge's presence is direct contempt. The judge may punish the person committing direct contempt without hearing any witnesses. In contrast, indirect contempt occurs outside the judge's presence. Proving indirect contempt thus requires witnesses to testify at a hearing. But don't let the indirect description fool you. Courts will punish indirect contempt just as they will punish direct contempt.

Statutory Authority for an ICC. Pennsylvania law leaves no question over the authority of a court to convict a PFA defendant of indirect criminal contempt. Section 6114(a) of Pennsylvania's Protection from Abuse Act provides this rule for ICCs: “Where the police, sheriff or the plaintiff have filed charges of indirect criminal contempt against a defendant for violation of a protection order issued under this chapter, a foreign protection order or a court-approved consent agreement, the court may hold the defendant in indirect criminal contempt and punish the defendant in accordance with law.” A PFA defendant who violates the PFA order faces a real risk of an ICC leading to fines and jail time.

Who May Seek an ICC. You might assume that only prosecutors can charge crimes. That is not the case with PFA orders. Section 6114(a) of Pennsylvania's Protection from Abuse Act expressly permits “the police, sheriff, or the plaintiff” to file ICC charges. The court must still decide the charge. But the ex-spouse, family member, or other person who got the PFA against you has the power to seek its enforcement by bringing ICC charges. That power presents a huge risk to any PFA defendant, whether they're thinking about violating the PFA order or not. If you can possibly avoid it, don't let any PFA order enter against you. The risk of ICC charges is too great. Instead, retain Pennsylvania PFA defense attorneys on our Criminal Law Team to aggressively represent you.

PFA Orders May an ICC Enforce. Pennsylvania courts can, of course, enforce Pennsylvania PFA orders under ICC charges. ICC enforcement is available both as to PFA orders that the court imposes and PFA orders to which the parties consent. Consent to a PFA does not provide any immunity against contempt charges. But Section 6114(a)of Pennsylvania's Protection from Abuse Act, and other sections of the Act, also authorize Pennsylvania courts to enforce foreign court PFA orders. If you suffer a PFA order in New York, New Jersey, or another state, but your opposing party alleges that you violated that foreign PFA order in Pennsylvania, then the court of the Pennsylvania county in which the violation allegedly occurred may hear an ICC charge against you.

Potential Penalties for an ICC. ICC charges are very serious matters because conviction on ICC charges could lead to jail time. Section 6114(b)(1) of Pennsylvania's Protection from Abuse Act authorizes a fine between $300 and $1,000 plus jail or supervised probation for up to six months. You may be fortunate and face only a $300 fine and probation. But an ICC conviction also extends the PFA order for an additional term. The Act's Section 6114(b)(4) provides: “Upon conviction for indirect criminal contempt and at the request of the plaintiff, the court shall also grant an extension of the protection order for an additional term.” That means that the risk of another PFA violation and more ICC charges will continue for up to an additional three years, with each ICC conviction.

ICC Attorney Defense. A PFA order is not only usually onerous on its face but can also become a downward spiral. ICC charges can multiply the problems that a PFA defendant already faces. If you face an indirect criminal complaint alleging your violation of a PFA order, then your best move is to retain premier Pennsylvania PFA defense attorneys on our Joseph D. Lento to represent you. Our Criminal Law Team has the commitment, skill, and experience for your aggressive and effective defense. Contact the LLF Law Firm at 888.535.3686 or online for a prompt consultation with our Criminal Law Team.

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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.

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