Original version: 1976
- Abuse = Only bodily injury (or attempt) & fear by physical menace
- Standing = only “spouses, persons living as spouses, parents and children, or consanguinity/affinity” – no provisions for not living together
- Emergency custody provisions included since the beginning
- Only lasted 12 months max
- Never required medical or police reports as evidence
- Plaintiff responsible for filing fees unless they could prove indigence.
Amended 1978 (“35 Pa.S.”): enhanced penalties
- Standing = former/intimate partners not living together; same sex couples
Amended in 1988
- allowing DV Advocates in court
- Abuse includes false imprisonment (6102(a)(3))
- Court could order weapons relinquished temporarily if they were used/threatened to be used in an incident of violence
Amended in 1994
- “physical menace” changed to “reasonable fear of bodily injury” (6102(a)(2))
- State Police Dept required to maintain a statewide registry of PFA orders
- Abuse includes stalking and other intimidating acts (6102(a)(5))
- Significant changes to provide courts discretion to order supervised or no custodial access w/ finding of abuse
- Plaintiff may not be held responsible for any prepaid filing fees; still responsible (until 2006) for costs if PFA petition is dismissed.
- Can direct immediate return of child to plaintiff if child was forcibly/fraudulently removed
- Court must consider risk of harm to child as well as to plaintiff in custody provisions
- Defendant prohibited from acquiring weapons while the order is in effect
Amended in 2000
- max length expanded from 12 to 18 months
Amended in 2006
- Max length expanded to 3 years
- Now specifies “10 business days” between filing and hearing
- child custody – emergency provisions
- Prohibition of fees or costs assessed against petitioner for filing
- NO fees for petitioner for reconsideration or appealing court order
- Factors that court must evaluate in determining whether certain weapons should be relinquished for the Temporary Order
- Sweeping changes re. firearms:
- Relinquish not only weapons used, but ANY weapons
- Can be issued ex parte if certain conditions are met
- Firearms can be turned over to a 3rd party with certain limitations
2017 Proposals by PCADV:
Empower courts to issue search and seizure orders for weapons as part of their PFA orders, if there is cause to believe the defendant has weapons and may use them against the victim.
Eliminate the family exemption from background checks for transfers of handguns.
Amend the current provision that allows defendants to place their weapons in the hands of third-party safe keepers. PCADV supports the recommendation that the third-party safekeeping option be abolished completely.
Enhance safety for victims by requiring that sheriffs, deputies or other officers serve protection orders.
Before setting bail, courts should use a risk assessment tool to evaluate potential danger to the victim.
Authorize courts to extend or reinstate an expired PFA order when an incarcerated defendant is about to be released and the court concludes that they pose a continuing threat to the victim.
Encourage local law enforcement to use active GPS monitoring of abusers to provide real-time notice to victims that their abusers are in their vicinity.
Clarify, through statute, the roles of dating violence, teen dating violence and same sex relationships in order to improve interpretation of the law. The Commission notes that these changes are not vital to closing any perceived gaps in the PFA Act.