Domestic Violence/Protection From Abuse
Domestic Violence affects far too many people and, unfortunately, children in our society today. In addition to possible criminal charges, a victim, or guardian of a victim, of abuse can file a Petition for Protection From Abuse (PFA) against a family or household member.
Abuse is defined as attempting to cause or causing bodily injury; placing a person in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury; or knowingly engaging in a course of conduct, including following the person under circumstances which place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury. Note that physical violence does not need to occur to meet the definition of abuse as described above. Abuse can be physical, verbal, or emotional.
Family or household member is specifically defined as a spouse, former spouse, intimate partner, former intimate partner, parents and children, and other person who are related by blood or marriage. That said, Pennsylvania courts have recently expanded this definition to include individuals who do not meet one of the previously mentioned relationships. If you were abused, but are not sure it was by a “family or household member,” please contact Sweeney and Neary to schedule an initial consultation to discuss what options are available to you.
First and foremost, if you are the victim of domestic violence it is imperative that your first telephone call is to 9-1-1 – it is imperative that any victim and his/her children are safe. Second, once the police have responded to and de-escalated the incident, be sure to obtain a copy of the incident report that was generated as a result of the abuse. After the situation has been diffused, please contact Sweeney & Neary to schedule an initial consultation to discuss how to proceed.