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DAVID CLARK
Criminal Defense Attorney

A restraining order under Philadelphia law is an order by the courts, either civil or criminal courts telling someone to stay away from a person. It is a court notation. This includes contacts such as phone calls, text messages, or any other contacts that would violate the conditions of the restraining order.

In Philadelphia, restraining orders can have criminal consequences. In Philadelphia, a person can be arrested and prosecuted for the criminal offense violating a restraining order.

A restraining order in a civil context could impact their criminal case and become evidence against them. New charges could be added if the order is violated, and it could lead to contempt of court if the judge has ordered the stay-away and it is not followed or enhancements of the penalties a person receives.

If you have been issued a restraining order, reach out to a skilled domestic violence attorney. An experienced Philadelphia restraining order lawyer could review the facts of the case and help you mitigate or avoid any harsh consequences.

The Rules of a Stay Away Order

There can be many consequences of being issued a restraining order. If someone gets one against a person, it can require that person to vacate their residence, leave that person’s home if they live with the person. It can require them to stay away from children and other family members if they also reside with the person that has the restraining order.

A restraining order can also affect a person’s own civil rights, such as requiring an individual to relinquish a firearm if a person happens to own one legally. Either one or all of the conditions that are part of a restraining order can have severe criminal consequence if a person violates them.

Filing A Restraining Order

In a domestic situation, a restraining order can be filed a couple of ways. It can be brought as a part of a criminal case or stay-away order in the case issued by a judge as a condition of pre-trial release.

A restraining order can be obtained in family court, that is what is known as a protection from abuse order or a PFA, and that would be a family court civil order that tells someone to stay away from the person who they are alleging abused them.

What Is An Ex Parte Restraining Order?

An ex parte restraining order is one that the person got without being able to give their opinion about what occurred. In Philadelphia, a temporary restraining order can be obtained to keep the person away for a short period of time, but then, only if it becomes final after a hearing with both sides present. Both sides should be able to appear, argue, and bring their own representation.

An ex parte PFA restraining order in Philadelphia lasts for ten days, and at that time, there will be a hearing for a full PFA restraining order at which point, the order can be extended for any time including up to three years which is the maximum length of an extension.

Granting an Order

A judge will grant an ex parte restraining order when they have sufficient basis to think that the allegations are credible. The proof is provided either via testimony, pictures, or text messages which proves that there was some form of physical abuse, injury threats or harassments. This is heard in the family court and is not a protection from an abuse order as in a criminal context.

Often, the defendant will not speak at these initial hearings, and it may be ex parte if they are pleading the Fifth Amendment and not stating any defense at that time. Instead, they can rely on their skilled Philadelphia restraining order lawyer to come and speak on their behalf. They could explain why the restraining order does not need to be in place or reduce conditions, which is a mutual stay-away order that both parties stay away from each other if there is mutual abuse instead of a one-sided situation.

Impact of A Protection from A Violation Order

Protection from a violation order (PFA) against a person can have a significant impact on a person’s criminal case. If it is an ongoing case, it may become part of the criminal case. Also, if there is no criminal case, but there is continued contact with the plaintiff or the alleged victim, that could lead to new criminal charges.

Having a PFA in place could open a person up to charges such as burglary where a person visits the residence and enters a residence of someone who has a PFA against them. It is usually upgraded to a felony of the first-degree burglary because the court will assume an intention to harm the person based on the PFA. The protection from an abuse order increases the possible penalty a person could get for that action of entering the home.

Vacating, Changing or Suspending an Order

The best chance for a person’s order to be altered is at the PFA hearing, which occurs ten days after the ex parte hearing. At the PFA hearing the court will decide what the conditions will be and for how long. If a permanent order is put into place at that time, it will be difficult to change that order or get the court to revisit it. It will be a final order that will stay in place for the duration.

Speak to a Philadelphia Restraining Order Attorney Today

A Philadelphia restraining order lawyer can be extremely helpful in winning a hearing dismissing a restraining order, negotiating with the plaintiff or explaining the consequences to the judge and asking for reduced conditions. All of those can be done by counsel, especially in a family court PFA context. This is very important because once the restraining order goes into place and becomes permanent. The order may not be able to be altered for up to three years.

Having an attorney at the initial hearing before it is finalized can be crucial for not having a long-lasting condition to affect a person’s ability to own a firearm, see their kids or live at their house. Call today to schedule a consultation.