Protection From Abuse Information
If you wish to obtain a Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order in Indiana County, you may contact a private attorney, Laurel Legal Services, Inc., the Alice Paul House at (724) 349-4444, or the Family Court. The Family Court is located at the
Indiana County Court House
825 Philadelphia Street
It is the policy of Laurel Legal Services to try to route any client inquiring about filing for a Protection From Abuse through the Alice Paul House. Either through representation by an attorney or by the assistance of the Alice Paul House or the Family Court, a Petition for a Protection From Abuse Order will be completed in the Protection From Abuse Database (PFAD). After the Petition is completed in the database, the Petition and a form for a Temporary Order will be printed out. The Temporary Order form and the Petition must be filed at the Prothonotary's Office, in the Courthouse. If a Temporary Order is granted, a hearing will be set within ten business days of the issuance of the order.
On the hearing date, the parties and their attorneys first attempt to reach a consent agreement. Agreeing to consent to a PFA Order is not an admission of guilt. A consent agreement allows the parties to agree upon the terms of a permanent PFA Order. If an agreement is reached, a Consent Order is prepared and signed by all parties. It is the policy of the family court judge to review all the terms with the parties before she will agree to sign the Consent Order. If the defendant refuses to consent, then a hearing will be held before a judge. The judge decides whether to grant or deny a PFA, and the duration of the order. A PFA may be granted for a minimum of one month to a maximum of thirty-six months.
If a permanent PFA Order is granted and, subsequently, the Plaintiff decides he/she wants to withdraw the PFA Order, the family court judge requires a hearing in order to find out why the Plaintiff wants to drop the PFA and whether he/she was coerced into dropping the PFA.
If a PFA action is filed and the defendant either has used a gun in conjunction with one of the incidents, or owns guns-be they rifles, shotguns or handguns-the guns will be seized by the Sheriff's Department. If the Defendant is found not guilty, the guns will be returned to the Defendant. If the Defendant either agrees to a Consent Order or is found guilty after a hearing, the guns will be withheld from being returned to the Defendant for the duration of the PFA Order. Also if the Defendant either agrees to a Consent Order or is found guilty after a hearing, under the Federal Gun Control Act, the defendant will not be allowed to buy a gun, sell a gun, buy ammunition or hunt during the duration of the PFA Order.
- A word about fees.
- At a minimum, at the present time, a defendant would have to pay an $81.00 fee to the Prothonotary even if the Defendant agrees to a Consent Order or is found not guilty after a hearing. If a defendant is found guilty after a hearing, there is another $100.00 fee assessed against the Defendant. The judge has the discretion to waive these fees, usually for economic hardship circumstances.