In Pennsylvania, a Protection From Abuse Order (PFA), Sexual Violence Protection Order (SVPO), and Protection From Intimidation Order (PFI), is an order that protects an individual from their abuser. It is a Civil Order of Court ordering the abuser not to contact that individual, either directly or indirectly, in order to prevent further abuse.

Anyone who has been abused, meets the legal definition of “abuse,” and who meets the relationship requirements defined under each legal act may qualify to file a protection order.

Protection From Abuse Order (PFA)

PFA’s can be filed when there is an act of physical or sexual abuse occurring, a direct threat, or an attempt to physically assault a victim.

How does the law define “abuse”?

  • If an actual act of physical or sexual assault has happened.
  • If an attempt is made to either physically or sexually assault a person.
  • If a direct threat is made either of physical or sexual assault.

What relationship must exist between the individual and the abuser to file?

The parties must meet one of the following:

  • is a current or former intimate partner
  • is a spouse
  • is anyone related by blood or marriage

Sexual Violence Protection Order (SVPO)

SVPO’s can be filed when an act of sexual violence has occurred and the victim and perpetrator have NO relationship to each other. To file a SVPO there is no age requirement, however, if the victim is under the age of 18, an adult, which is defined as a parent, legal guardian, or adult family member must file on the behalf of the minor. 

Who can file a SVPO?

  • Strangers
  • Acquaintances
  • Friends
  • Co-Workers
  • Neighbors

Protection From Intimidation Order (PFI)

PFI’s are used for harassing and stalking cases. The victim and perpetrator do not need a relationship, but the perpetrator has to be 18 or older AND the victim has to be under the age of 18 to file. An adult, which is defined as a parent, legal guardian, or adult family member must file on the victim’s behalf.

How can an individual obtain a PFA, SVPO, and PFI?

A PFA, SVPO, and PFI Petition must be filed with the Court of Common Pleas against the abuser. The individual filing the Petition is known as the plaintiff and the person the Petition is filed against is known as the defendant. If the plaintiff is in danger of further harm, the Judge will grant a temporary order lasting up to 10 business days. The plaintiff and the defendant will then be ordered to appear at a hearing within the 10 days where the plaintiff asks for a final order.

How long can a final PFA, SVPO, and PFI Order last?

A final order may be granted for up to 36 months. If the abuse continues, an extension may be granted to the plaintiff under certain circumstances. The plaintiff can also ask that a PFA, SVPO, and PFI be modified or vacated.

The plaintiff does not have to pay any court fees associated with filing a PFA, SVPO, or PFI.

For more information please call PPC at 814-676-5476.