In Pennsylvania, the protection from abuse or PFA act provides a process which can result in the person on the wrong end losing the right to go to their own house, to see their kids, to possess firearms, the list goes on. To make matters worst, this can all take place intitially without you even knowing. For example, say your spouse or your girlfriend/boyfriend goes to legal aid, which provides legal representation for free, and tells them that you hit him or her. Legal aid will draw up a PFA petition and within a couple of hours your significant other will be testifying before a judge. Now regardless of the truth of the testimony, if the judge believes your significant other, possibly say good bye to going to your own house, seeing your own kids, and possessing your own guns for the time being. Concerned yet? As an attorney I sure am, talk about a process that could easily be abused, and one that often is.
Now luckily, that intital PFA Order is temporary and you are entitled to a hearing within ten (10) days of entry of the order. At the hearing your probably now ex-significant other has the burden of proof to establish grounds for a permanent PFA order. If your ex is successful at the hearing, you could lose your right to go to your house, to see your kids, and to possess your firearms for up to three (3) years. As such it is imperative to have a good defense attorney and a solid defense prepared to fight at this hearing. If you have had PFA filed against you please call my office immediately.
A Note on Pennsylvania PFAs and Firearms
PFAs are one of the most common ways I see people losing their firearms rights. As discussed, in Pennsylvania it is relatively simple for a person to get a temporary PFA, which in most cases results in automatic loss of firearms rights. A permanent PFA if entered after the hearing, generally also automatically results in loss of firearms rights. Unfortunately, while Pennsylvania law would allow you to keep your firearms rights if relinquishment of firearms is not ordered by the Judge, conflicting Federal Law (18 U.S.C. 922) in most cases prohibits firearm possession and purchase during the duration of the PFA order.