Pennsylvania law allows a spouse, domestic partner, close blood relative, or people who have previously been intimate partners to ask the Court for protection when there has been abuse by the other party. In order to make a valid claim, it is usually necessary to satisfy a Judge that the party who feels abused is in reasonable fear of bodily harm. That fear can be demonstrated from the surrounding facts and history of what has happened before, but it is very difficult to make a good claim if the alleged abuse is not fairly current.
It's important to note that verbal abuse, other than direct threats of harm will normally not be sufficient. That’s why it is very important when there has been a threat or actual physical abuse that there be a report to the police without delay. It is also important to get medical attention so that the claimed harm can be proven by an independent party such as a medical professional. Unfortunately, there are often not witnesses to domestic violence which is why independent evidence is so important. Judges are reluctant to grant protection when it appears to be a case of he said/she said.
When a case is filed, a hearing is scheduled usually within a week and depending upon how serious the charges are, the Court may grant a temporary protection order subject to review at the time of the Hearing.
The Law Offices of Paul Brownstein has many years of experience in assisting victims of domestic violence as well as Defendants who want to show that the complaint is not valid. Legal representation in such cases is vital as there is a great deal at stake: The perpetrator can be evicted from the residence immediately and be prohibited from any contact whatsoever with the Plaintiff for a period of up to 3 years with serious consequences, including going to jail if that keep away order is violated. The victim also needs to be sure to get necessary protection to avoid continuing abuse and strife.