What Are The Consequences Of A False Abuse Accusation?

Pennsylvania passed the Protection From Abuse Act (PFA) that grants temporary restraining orders to abuse victims. Such orders take effect very quickly and before a full hearing occurs. However, such orders often come with unintended consequences.

Some individuals take advantage of this system by making false accusations. We cannot understate the damage that results from unfounded accusations. It can lead to criminal penalties. It can also cause a permanent rift in the relationship an accused individual has with their family and children.

What happens when you’re the target of one of these false accusations?

The PFA process begins following the filing of a one-sided petition that can amount to real penalties. When someone files a petition, the court will only hear evidence from the complainant. You do not get to speak on your behalf for up to 10 days later until the actual hearing takes place. During that time the court may decide to grant a temporary restraining order against you. A court may grant an order only within a few hours after the filing of a petition.

A restraining order can result in various restrictions. It can prevent you from living in your home or carrying firearms. Most importantly, it can prevent you from seeing your children.

Violating the temporary restraining order before the hearing can become a part of your permanent record. A violation impacts your parental custody, future job prospects, housing and other areas of your life.

What Can A Falsely-Accused Person Do?

While you cannot defend yourself during the initial petition phase, you can do so at the PFA hearing. However, it’s important to understand that the burden of proof at such a hearing is lower than during an actual trial. Such a low burden of proof makes it more difficult to combat false accusations. Many innocent people go into the PFA hearing without representation, confident that they can dispel false accusations. However, simple missteps can easily undermine their defense and leave them no option but to accept several unfair terms. These terms can include facing a longer and more durable restraining order.

You should not be subject to this kind of treatment. Having an attorney who knows the stakes and can advocate on your behalf is critical. By crafting a vigorous defense, an attorney can save you from years of onerous legal restrictions. You need to assert your rights as early as possible. Such an assertion will provide you the best chance of defeating false accusations.

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