What Should I Do If I Can't Make It to a PFA Hearing?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Apr 15, 2020 | 0 Comments

A protection from abuse (PFA) order is sometimes called a restraining order. The PFA can effectively prohibit someone from contacting the subject of the PFA, going to their house or work, and even prohibit gun ownership. There are so many restrictions in a PFA that losing a PFA can have a big impact on your life. 

The most important part of a PFA hearing is to show up. If you do not show up, the order may be entered against you without you having the chance to defend yourself. It may take a lot of additional work to get the order reversed or dismissed. It is generally easier to challenge a PFA the first time than it is to change it after the order has been issued.

After reviewing this information and the PFA FAQ, if you have any questions or need help with a protection from abuse order in Pennsylvania, contact our PFA defense attorneys on our Criminal Law Team and the LLF Law Firm in Philadelphia or King of Prussia.

Missing an Emergency PFA Hearing in Pennsylvania

The first PFA may be an emergency or “ex parte” hearing. At an ex parte hearing, the defendant is almost universally not present. It may not seem fair that the court can enter an order against you without the opportunity to respond but the emergency orders have a shorter term. The ex parte temporary PFA may remain in place until the court hearing for a final PFA, generally within 10 business days.  ("Final" hearing is a term used loosely as PFA cases are often not resolved at the first "final" hearing date for various reasons).

In almost all cases, the defendant will "miss" the ex parte hearing and may never find out about the hearing until they receive notice of the temporary order. The defendant is generally not notified of the ex parte temporary PFA. However, as soon as you learn about a protection order hearing, you should contact your attorney to begin building your defense.

Missing the Final PFA Hearing in Pennsylvania 

The final PFA hearing is the most important part of a PFA order defense. A final PFA can be in place for up to three years and can be further extended by the court. If you receive notice of the final PFA, you need to appear. If you need more time to find a lawyer, you can request a continuance to obtain legal representation. 

If you miss the final PFA hearing, the final PFA order may be entered by default.  If the court finds that the defendant received proper notice of the hearing, then the order may be entered without the defendant having a chance to defend themselves or tell their side of the story. Even arriving 20 minutes late may be too late to challenge the initial hearing, so leave plenty of extra time to account for traffic, parking, and security getting into the courthouse.  In the alternative, the court may also issue a bench warrant if it deems appropriate to the circumstances.

Call Your Attorney As Soon As Possible

If you cannot attend the PFA hearing because you will not be in town or because of an emergency, contact your attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will generally be able to request a continuance from the court. Similarly, if you just found out about the PFA hearing, you can contact your Pennsylvania PFA defense lawyer. Your lawyer can request more time on your behalf, appear on your behalf when possible, and make sure you have a chance to tell your side of the story. 

Pennsylvania PFA Defense Lawyer

Pennsylvania PFA defense attorneys at LLF Law Firm have helped clients avoid restraining orders that prevent gun ownership, limit where and when they can go somewhere, and who they can talk to. Having your voice heard in this challenging time is critical and the LLF Law firm can help. Contact our Criminal Law Team 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!


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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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