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Protection From Abuse Office

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What is a Protection From Abuse Order?

A Protection From Abuse Order is a Court Order that protects victims of domestic violence from abuse. Abuse includes physical injury or threats of physical injury.

What is Abuse?

Under the Protection From Abuse Act, abuse is defined as any of the following:

  1. Attempting to, intentionally or recklessly causing bodily injury.
  2. Placing another, by physical threat, in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
  3. False imprisonment.
  4. Physically or sexually abusing minor children.
  5. Stalking a person and placing that person in reasonable fear of bodily injury.
Who may file for a Protection From Abuse Order?

You may file for protection in Lehigh County if you live or work here, the defendant lives, works, or can be served here, or the abuse occurred here. There has to be physical abuse or threats of physical abuse.

A person may file a Protection From Abuse Petition against an intimate partner or family member. Here are some examples:

  1. Spouses or former spouses
  2. Current or former sexual or intimate partners
  3. Household members related by blood or marriage
  4. Persons related by blood or marriage
  5. Same sex couples
  6. Parents and children

*If the abused person is a minor, then a parent, guardian ad litem, or adult household member can file on behalf of the child.

*The PFA act does not apply to disputes between strangers, neighbors, roommates, co-workers, or classmates.

How and where do I file for Protection From Abuse?

You must appear in person at the Lehigh County Courthouse, Protection From Abuse Office 455 W. Hamilton Street, Room 423, Allentown, PA 18101. There are no attorneys on staff to provide legal advice to you; the PFA staff will assist you in filing the paperwork that is needed. The staff may not give you legal advice.

You must be a victim of abuse (read the definition above) in order to qualify for Protection From Abuse Petition. The staff will assist you in completing the necessary paperwork. After completing the paperwork, the staff will take you and your petition before the Judge.

Clients arriving after 2:00 pm will be referred to their Magisterial District Judge.

What should I bring with me when I go to file for A Protection From Abuse Order?

Please come prepared with the following information (if available):

  • Your photo ID
  • Names (all persons and parties)
  • Date of birth (all persons and parties)
  • Social security number (all persons and parties)
  • Addresses (all persons and parties)
  • Vehicle make, model, style, and license plate number of alleged assailant
How do I receive a Temporary Order of protection after filing a Protection From Abuse Petition?

After filing a Protection From Abuse Petition, a Judge will review your paperwork and will speak with you to determine if a Temporary Order will be granted. If the Judge believes a Temporary Order should be granted, he will issue one. All cases will then be scheduled for a Final Hearing before a Judge in approximately business 10 days.

What help is available at night, on weekends or when the courts are closed?

In case of an emergency or if you've been a victim of domestic abuse, contact your local police department or 911. If you are in immediate and present danger of abuse, a Petition for Emergency Relief from Abuse may be filed with the on call Magisterial District Court (police will provide you with the name of the on call emergency Magisterial District Judge). If the Magisterial District Judge believes that you are in immediate danger, he/she will grant you an Emergency Protection From Abuse Order.

To find your local MDJ click here.

*This Emergency Protection Order will expire at the end of the following business day. Be sure to go to the Lehigh County Protection From Abuse Office between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. to file for a Temporary Order of protection if you want to pursue one.

How do I get a Final Order of protection?

A hearing will be held in front of a Judge within ten business days of filing your petition with the court, and the Judge will listen to the facts of your case. If the Judge finds that abuse has occurred, a Final Order of protection will be issued. The length can be from one (1) to thirty-six (36) months.

Is there a cost for filing a Protection From Abuse Petition?

Yes, but not at the time of filing.

What protection may I ask for?

A Temporary or Final Order may contain the following relief:

  1. direct the defendant not to abuse, threaten, harass or stalk you.
  2. direct the defendant to stay away from your home.
  3. direct the defendantt to stay away from your school or where you work.
  4. prohibit the defendant from having firearms.
  5. direct the defendantt to pay you for losses resulting from abuse. These could include medical bills and lost wages.
  6. direct the defendant to attend a batterers counseling program depending on jurisdiction.
  7. award you temporary custody of your children and grant you temporary support for yourself and/or the children of the defendant (THIS MAY NOT APPLY IN ALL CASES).

*Terms of order may vary depending on each specific circumstance.

*If you are awarded custody/support you MUST follow-up by filing the appropriate custody/support actions in a timely manner. Do not wait until your order expires. Speak to an attorney prior to taking these actions for legal advice.

Will my Order be enforced in another county or state?

In most cases, yes.

The Pennsylvania State Police maintains a registry of all Protection From Abuse Orders issued throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Many out of state courts will enforce a valid protection Order that is issued and properly filed in another state.

How can I get a copy of my Order?

Copies of your Temporary and Final Protection From Abuse Order will be mailed to you at your last known address. You can obtain copies of your Order by going to the public review room located on the first floor of the courthouse. There is a fee for copies.

What domestic violence programs exist in Lehigh County?

These services include crisis hotlines, safe homes or shelters, legal advocacy, community education, counseling, as well as information and referral. Your local domestic violence hotline is available 24 hours per day, all services are confidential. For more information contact the hotline at 1 877 438-4957

How can I find a lawyer?

Call the Bar Assoication of Lehigh County Lawyer Referral Services (610) 433-7094.

How do I withdraw my Temporary Order of protection?

If the Temporary Order was granted, you would need to come to the Protection From Abuse Office between the hours of 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. with photo identification and complete paperwork. The Judge will decide whether to approve your request or not.

If your Temporary Order was denied, you would need to come to the Clerk of Judicial Records Office, located the in the Lehigh County Courthouse, with photo identification, to complete paperwork.

How do I withdraw my Final Order of protection?

If you wish to withdraw your Final Order of protection, you would need to come to the Protection From Abuse Office between the hours of 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. with photo identification and complete paperwork. The Judge will decide whether to approve your request or not.

How do I file for Contempt of the Temporary or Final Order?

Contempt of an Order can be filed two ways: The first way that Contempt is filed is by the police departments. If you call the police because you feel the defendant violated the protection Order, if the police agree; they would file the necessary paperwork and a hearing would be scheduled. The second way, is for the plaintiff to come to the Protection From Abuse Office and complete Contempt paperwork and the staff will take you before a Judge to determine if there is sufficient evidence to proceed with a Contempt Hearing.

Is child care available?

No. Please make appropriate child care arrangements.

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