What Is a PFA in Legal Orders?


Quick Answer

PFA in legal orders stands for "protection from abuse" and requires an abuser to stay away from a victim of domestic violence, according to Laurel Legal Services in Pennsylvania. A PFA order is a civil document mandated by the courts after being signed by a judge.

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Full Answer

PFA orders involve spouses, former spouses, domestic partners, parents, children or sexual partners. Abuse occurs in several ways including causing bodily injury, raping, initiating sexual assault, making threats against someone's life and placing someone in reasonable fear of bodily injury. Abusers must stay a certain distance away from a victim's residence, workplace and school, notes Laurel Legal Services.

PFA orders protect children, men and women. An emergency PFA order usually lasts until the next business day in Pennsylvania, according to the National Network to End Domestic Violence. A temporary PFA order lasts about 10 days until the court hears further evidence of the case. A final PFA order may be in effect for up to three years and may be extended under certain circumstances.

Victims protected by such orders can call the police if the abuser violates the court's mandate. The perpetrator can be arrested and taken into custody, even if the arresting officer does not witness the violation, explains NNEDV. An abuser may face jail time for contempt of court charges for disobeying a court's order.

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