Perhaps one of the most necessary statutes in Pennsylvania, and at times, horribly abused itself, is the Protection from Abuse Statute. It is a statute designed to protect certain victims of abuse in Pennsylvania. In order to know whether the statute is appropriate in your situation, you need to know
- Whether you are a person who is protected under the statute; and
- Whether the act you are complaining about is “abuse” under the statute.
WHO IS A PROTECTED PERSON UNDER THE STATUTE?
Only the following people will be granted a Protection from Abuse Order;
- People who are both family or household members;
- People who are both sexual or intimate partners; or
- People who share biological parenthood.
If you and the other party don’t fit into those categories, the Protection from Abuse Statute is not for you. You may have a criminal action and perhaps you should contact the police to inquire.
WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF “ABUSE”?
Abuse, under this statute is:
- “Attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly and recklessly causing bodily injury, serious bodily injury, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault or incest with or without a deadly weapon.” Read this carefully. These are the acts required under this section in order to make out a case of Abuse.
- “Placing another in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury”. As you can see, the claimed fear must be “reasonable” and the threatened action must be “imminent” (meaning the person must state that the threatened bodily injury will occur immediately). Further, the person must threaten serious bodily injury. Therefore, stating, for example, that I’m going to come to your house and harm you in two weeks, or stating a threat to smack someone, probably is not actionable because it is not imminent or serious.
- “The infliction of false imprisonment”. Locking someone in a room for a period of time until the person does some act or stops some act might be the type of conduct contemplated.
- “Physically or sexually abusing minor children.” This is self-evident.
- “Knowingly engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts towards another person, including following the other person, without proper authority, under circumstances which would place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury”. Stalking would be a prime example of this.
If you have any questions about anything covered in this article, please contact us. Our Firm has a very active Protection from Abuse practice.