Unfortunately, Protection from Abuse (PFA) orders are a common and often necessary part of family law. For both the protected party and the party against whom the PFA is issued, it is crucial to know both the civil and quasi-criminal implications of the PFA proceedings and order, as both may have serious legal consequences. This Unit is designed to master the civil and quasi-criminal blender that is PFA law, and it is comprised of our team members with great knowledge and experience in family law and criminal law. Members of this team represent clients in both civil and quasi-criminal aspects of PFA proceedings.
PFA orders begin as temporary, civil orders, and often result in the immediate prohibition of contact with one’s significant other and/or child(ren). If the parties live together, the PFA order may direct that the defendant be immediately evicted from the shared residence. This temporary PFA order is issued by a judge, who hears only one side of the story, from the one seeking the PFA order. A second hearing is immediately scheduled, and can be heard promptly, so both sides can present evidence. At that “full” hearing, the judge will determine whether to establish or extend the PFA order, which can run for as long as three years. If, at any time, the PFA order is violated, the party so doing may be charged with indirect criminal contempt, which involves serious criminal and civil consequences. Such consequences include the possibility of serving jail time, as well as having a severe impact on one’s other interests and custodial rights. Additionally, just like on television and in the movies, a person’s testimony in the civil PFA proceeding can be used against them, if the Commonwealth pursues criminal charges for violating the PFA order. Such is the nature of PFA’s blending civil and criminal law, and therein the reason we created our Specialty PFA Unit, to provide excellent and experienced representation for both the civil and quasi-criminal aspects of PFAs.
If a PFA is successfully defended, there still exists a trail of the events. Our unit can look into the possibility of expunging and removing this trail so that it is removed from all data bases.
At LaMonaca Law, our PFA Unit is comprised of family law attorneys with extensive criminal law backgrounds and experience, who understand both the civil and criminal aspects of PFAs. Among the members of this Unit is Michael Galantino, who served for thirty years in the Delaware County (PA) District Attorney’s Office, where he spent the last twenty-one years as Deputy District Attorney and Chief of the Special Victims/Domestic Violence Division. Additional members of this unit are Gerry Gebhart, who has fifteen years in PFA practice, including seven years as an Assistant Solicitor for Children and Youth Services in Delaware County, and Timothy Melvin, who practiced criminal defense privately for decades, prior to joining LaMonaca Law.
The benefits of our PFA Unit:
- Protects the rights of abused victims;
- Defends the rights of the falsely accused;
- Defends against indirect criminal contempt;
- Can file to expunge an individual’s record where appropriate;
- Incorporates the decades of experience from other seasoned team members.