What to Do if You’re Served With a PFA

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

Tom Petty said it well in his hit song, Walls: “Some days are diamonds, some days are rocks.” In late April, Gregory Lee Clark, 54, of St. Clair Township, got a rock. Early in the evening of the 27th, two deputies showed up at Mr. Clark's door to serve him with a Protection from Abuse (PFA) order.

Mr. Clark's reaction to the situation didn't help matters. His first response was to barricade himself inside the house. Through the letter slot in his door, he demanded the deputies present him with a court order or search warrant before entering. When the deputies explained to him that a PFA is a court order, he threatened to shoot them if they came in.

After a tense standoff and the arrival of more deputies and members of the state police, Mr. Clark did eventually surrender himself. In addition to the PFA, however, he now faces three counts of simple assault, three counts of terroristic threats, and one count of obstruction of justice.

A Better Response

It's pretty easy to spot most of Mr. Clark's mistakes. It's never a good idea to threaten law enforcement officers with a gun. But what should you do if you find yourself being served a PFA?

A PFA in Pennsylvania is similar to a restraining order. It offers relief for a “victim” from his or her “abuser.” That relief can come in several forms. In almost every case, the order will prohibit the abuser from contacting the victim or harassing them in any way. The order may include other stipulations as well, though. For example, it might demand the abuser return a victim's personal property.

No one wants to be served with a PFA. A PFA can force you out of your home, keep you from seeing your children, or cause you problems at work. Worst of all, it identifies you in public documents as an abuser, a label no one wants to carry.

Short of barricading yourself inside your home, though, what should you do if you are served with a PFA? First and foremost, don't make the situation worse. As Mr. Clark discovered, you don't get to choose whether or not you accept a PFA. A PFA is a court order, and you are bound by its terms. That also means you should never attempt to contact the person who filed the PFA. Doing so will only lead to criminal charges.

But accepting a PFA, and abiding by its provisions, doesn't mean that you have no options. You do have rights, and one of those is to fight the PFA. That fight should take place in a courtroom, though, rather than on your front porch.

Our Criminal Law Team can Help

If you've been served with a PFA, remain calm and contact our Criminal Law Team immediately. Our Criminal Law Team can explain your rights and responsibilities as outlined in the order. More importantly, we can help you contest the order if you believe it was issued unfairly. Our Criminal Law Team has unparalled experience in successfully resolving PFA cases, and we know how to protect your rights.

Contact the LLF Law Firm today at 888-555-3686, or use our automated online form.

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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