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Posted on February 13th, 2019 at 10:23 AM

If you need to consult with an attorney or would like more information on abuse, please contact the Erie County Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service.

The Pennsylvania Protection From Abuse Act is intended to protect victims of domestic violence. The Act applies to family or household members, sexual or intimate partners or the mother and father of a child and is intended to protect against future sexual abuse or future acts or threats of physical violence.

If you - or your child - are a victim of sexual abuse or domestic violence, call the police immediately so that criminal charges may be filed against the abuser.

In order to obtain a Protective Order against future acts of violence or if you are in fear that violence may occur, you may request a Protective Order against the abuser by contacting an attorney, SafeNet at 455-1774, or by going to the Office of the Protection From Abuse Coordinator located on the second floor of the Erie County Courthouse at 140 West 6th Street. Note that if you choose to go through SafeNet, they will help you fill out your petition, arrange to have you taken before a judge and, will provide you with an attorney free of charge to represent you at the final hearing.

To file a Petition through the Protection From Abuse office you must be there no later than 9:00 a.m.

The Coordinator will help you prepare a Petition and make immediate arrangements to present the Petition to a Judge. The process will take approximately one hour. The Coordinator will also be available to assist you with any general questions or inquiries between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

If you believe that you need an immediate Protection From Abuse Order in the evenings or on weekends, you should contact the Magisterial District Judge of your area to obtain a Temporary Order of Protection and to possibly remove the abuser from the residence.

Any Temporary Protection From Abuse Order entered by a Judge or Magisterial District Judge is valid for a maximum of ten (10) days, unless that time period is extended by Order of Court. A hearing will be held at the Courthouse within that ten-day period so that a Judge may determine if the Temporary Order should be made final and extended for a period of up to 3 years. You must bring all of your witnesses and evidence with you to that hearing.

Once a Protection From Abuse Order is obtained - either Temporary or Final - a defendant violating the Order is subject to severe penalties including a possible fine and possible jail sentence for up to six months.

If the defendant should violate the Protection From Abuse Order - either Temporary or Final - you should immediately contact the police. If the police believe that the defendant violated the Order, they may arrest the defendant immediately and take the defendant before a Magisterial District Judge for disposition until a contempt hearing is scheduled before a Judge. 2/19