LETTER TO VICTIMS
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Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes:
DOMESTIC RELATIONS (TITLE 23)
ABUSE OF FAMILY
CHAPTER 61. PROTECTION FROM
§ 6101. Short title of chapter.
This chapter shall be known and may be cited
as the Protection from Abuse Act.
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§ 6102. Definitions
(a) General rule.--The following words
and phrases when used in this chapter shall have the meanings
given to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates
The occurrence of one or more of the following
acts between family or household members, sexual or intimate
partners or persons who share biological parenthood:
Attempting to cause or intentionally,
knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury, serious
bodily injury, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse,
sexual assault, statutory sexual assault, aggravated
indecent assault, indecent assault or incest with
or without a deadly weapon.
Placing another in reasonable fear of
imminent serious bodily injury.
The infliction of false imprisonment
pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. § 2903 (relating to false imprisonment).
Physically or sexually abusing minor
children, including such terms as defined in Chapter
63 (relating to child protective services).
Knowingly engaging in a course of conduct
or repeatedly committing acts toward another person,
including following the person, without proper authority,
under circumstances which place the person in reasonable
fear of bodily injury. The definition of this paragraph
applies only to proceedings commenced under this title
and is inapplicable to any criminal prosecutions commenced
under Title 18 (relating to crimes and offenses).
An individual who is 18 years of age or
- "Confidential communications."
All information, whether written or spoken,
transmitted between a victim and a domestic violence counselor
or advocate in the course of the relationship. The term
includes information received or given by the domestic
violence counselor or advocate in the course of the relationship,
as well as advice, reports, statistical data, memoranda
or working papers, records or the like, given or made
in the course of the relationship.
- "Domestic violence counselor/advocate"
An individual who is engaged in a domestic
violence program, the primary purpose of which is the
rendering of counseling or assistance to victims of domestic
violence, who has undergone 40 hours of training.
- "Domestic violence program"
A nonprofit organization or program whose
primary purpose is to provide services to domestic violence
victims which include, but are not limited to, crisis
hotline; safe homes or shelters; community education;
counseling systems intervention and interface; transportation,
information and referral; and victim assistance.
- "Family or household members"
Spouses or persons who have been spouses,
persons living as spouses or who have lived as spouses,
parents and children, other persons related by consanguinity
or affinity, current or former sexual or intimate partners
or persons who share biological parenthood.
- "Hearing Officer"
A district justice, judge of the Philadelphia
Municipal Court, bail commissioner appointed under 42
Pa.C.S. § 1123 (relating to jurisdiction and venue) and
master appointed under 42 Pa.C.S. § 1126 (relating to
An individual who is not an adult.
- "Secure visitation facility"
A court-approved visitation program, offered
in a facility with trained professional staff operated
in a manner that safeguards children and parents from
abuse and abduction.
A person who is physically or sexually abused
by a family or household member. For purposes of section
6116 (relating to confidentiality), a victim is a person
against whom abuse is committed who consults a domestic
violence counselor or advocate for the purpose of securing
advice, counseling or assistance. The term shall also
include persons who have a significant relationship with
the victim and who seek advice, counseling or assistance
from a domestic violence counselor or advocate regarding
abuse of the victim.
- "Other terms"
Terms not otherwise defined in this chapter
shall have the meaning given to them in 18 Pa.C.S. (relating
to crimes and offenses).
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§ 6103. Effect of departure to avoid abuse.
The court shall have jurisdiction over all proceedings
under this chapter. The right of plaintiff to relief under
this chapter shall not be affected by plaintiff leaving the
residence or household to avoid further abuse.
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§ 6104. Registration of order.
(a) Registry--The prothonotary shall
maintain a registry in which it shall enter certified copies
of orders entered by courts from other jurisdictions in this
Commonwealth pursuant to this chapter.
(b) Registration of order in any county--A
plaintiff who obtains a valid order under this chapter may
register that order without fee or cost in any county within
this Commonwealth where the plaintiff believes enforcement
may be necessary. A court shall recognize and enforce a valid
order under this chapter which has been issued by another
court but properly registered with a county within the judicial
district of the court where enforcement is sought or recorded
in the registry of the Pennsylvania State Police. County registries
shall not be required when the Pennsylvania State Police registry
provided for in section 6105(e) (relating to responsibilities
of law enforcement agencies) is established and is fully operational.
A court shall recognize and enforce a valid order which has
been issued by a comparable court in another state and properly
registered within a county where enforcement is sought or
recorded in the registry of the Pennsylvania State Police.
(c) Certified copy--A valid order under
this chapter may be registered by the plaintiff in a county
other than the issuing county by obtaining a certified copy
of the order of the issuing court endorsed by the prothonotary
of that court and presenting that certified order to the prothonotary
where the order is to be registered.
(d) Proof of Registration--Upon receipt
of a certified order for registration, the prothonotary shall
provide the plaintiff with a copy bearing the proof of registration
to be filed with the appropriate law enforcement agency.
(e) Registration not required--Registration
of orders under this section shall not be required upon the
establishment and operation of the Pennsylvania State Police
registry provided in section 6105(e).
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§ 6105. Responsibilities of local law
(a) General rule--The police department
of each municipal corporation, the Pennsylvania State Police
and the sheriff of each county shall insure that all their
officers, deputies and employees are familiar with the provisions
of this chapter. Instruction concerning protection from abuse
shall be made part of the training curriculum for all trainee
officers and deputies. All law enforcement agencies within
this Commonwealth shall adopt a written domestic violence
(b) Notice of services and rights--Each
law enforcement agency shall provide the abused person with
oral and written notice of the availability of safe shelter
and of domestic violence services in the community, including
the hotline number for domestic violence services. The written
notice, which shall be in English and Spanish and any additional
language required by local rule of court, shall include the
"If you are the victim of domestic
violence, you have the right to go to court and file a petition
requesting an order for protection from domestic abuse pursuant
to the Protection From Abuse Act (23 Pa.C.S. Ch.61), which
could include the following:
(1) An order restraining the abuser from further acts of
(2) An order directing the abuser to leave your household.
(3) An order preventing the abuser from entering your residence,
school, business or place of employment.
(4) An order awarding you or the other parent temporary
custody of or temporary visitation with your child or children.
(5) An order directing the abuser to pay support to you
and the minor children if the abuser has a legal obligation
to do so."
(c) Mandatory report--Each law enforcement
agency shall make an incident report, on a form prescribed
by the Pennsylvania State Police, consistent with the report
required by the Federal National Incident-Based Reporting
System (NIBRS). The mandate for incident report completion
shall not be operative until the Pennsylvania State Police
have implemented NIBRS. The incident report may include the
Names, addresses and telephone numbers of
the victim, the accused, any witnesses and the caller.
A second permanent address and telephone
number for the victim, such as a close family member or
A statement of the relationship between
the victim and the accused.
A narrative of the incident, including the
date, time and whether the accused appeared intoxicated
or under the influence of a controlled substance.
What, if any, weapons were used or threatened
to be used.
A description of any injuries observed by
A description of any injuries described
by the victim but not observed by the officer and an indication
that the injury was not observed.
Documentation of any evidence that would
tend to establish that a crime was committed.
An indication of whether an arrest was made
and the reason for electing not to arrest, whether there
was a warrantless arrest, an arrest with a warrant or
Whether the accused actually was arrested
or whether there is an outstanding arrest warrant.
The crimes with which the accused was charged.
If the accused was arrested and arraigned,
whether bail was set and any conditions of bail imposed.
If the officer did not arrest or seek an
arrest warrant even though arrest was authorized, a detailed
explanation of the reason for the officer's decision not
The names and ages of any children present
in the household and their address and telephone number
if children were relocated.
Notation of previous incidents of which
the officer is personally aware.
Notation of previous incidents reported
by the victim or witnesses
If an officer was injured in the incident,
the nature and circumstances of the injury.
(d) Notice of arrest--All law enforcement
agencies shall make reasonable efforts to notify any adult
or emancipated minor protected by an order issued under this
chapter of the arrest of the defendant for violation of an
order as soon as possible. Unless the person cannot be located,
notice of arrest shall be provided not more than 24 hours
after preliminary arraignment.
(e) Statewide registry--
The Pennsylvania State Police shall establish
a Statewide registry of protection orders and shall maintain
a complete and systematic record and index of all valid
temporary and final court orders of protection or court-approved
consent agreements. The Statewide registry shall include,
but need not be limited to, the following:
The names of the plaintiff and any protected
The name and address of the defendant
The date the order was entered
The date the order expires.
The relief granted under sections 6108(a)(1),
(2), (4), (6) and (7) (relating to relief) and 6110(a)
(relating to emergency relief by minor judiciary)
The judicial district in which the order
Where furnished, the Social Security
number and date of birth of the defendant.
The prothonotary shall send, on a form prescribed
by the Pennsylvania State Police, a copy of the protection
order or approved consent agreement to the Statewide registry
of protection orders so that it is received within 24
hours of the entry of the order. Likewise, amendments
to or revocation of an order shall be transmitted by the
prothonotary within 24 hours of the entry of the order
for modification or revocation. The Pennsylvania State
Police shall enter orders, amendments and revocations
in the Statewide registry of protection orders within
eight hours of receipt.
The registry of the Pennsylvania State Police
shall be available at all times to inform courts, dispatchers
and law enforcement officers of any valid protection order
involving any defendant.
When an order granting relief under section
6108(a)(7) has been entered by a court, such information
shall be available to the Pennsylvania State Police for
the purpose of conducting a criminal history records check
in compliance with the applicable provisions of 18 Pa.C.S.
Ch. 61 Subch. A (relating to Uniform Firearms Act).
(f) Information concerning crimes of violence.--Each
police department in a city, borough or township and the Pennsylvania
State Police shall transmit to the Pennsylvania State Police,
in a manner prescribed by the Pennsylvania State Police, the
information specified in subsection (c) relating to crimes
of violence between family or household members.
(g) Annual report--The Pennsylvania State
Police shall annually compile and analyze the incident report
data received and publish a Statewide report which includes
aggregate, county and department-based statistical profiles.
The Pennsylvania State Police shall transmit a copy of the
annual report to the Governor, the General Assembly and each
domestic violence program in this Commonwealth.
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§ 6106. Commencement of proceedings.
(a) General rule--An adult or emancipated
minor may seek relief under this chapter for that person or
any parent, adult household member or guardian ad litem may
seek relief under this chapter on behalf of minor children,
or a guardian of the person of an adult who has been declared
incompetent under 20 Pa.C.S. Ch.51 Subch. B (relating to appointment
of guardian) may seek relief on behalf of the incompetent
adult, by filing a petition with the court alleging abuse
by the defendant.
(a.1) False reports--A person who knowingly
gives false information to any law enforcement officer with
the intent to implicate another under this chapter commits
an offense under 18 Pa.C.A. § 4906 (relating to false reports
to law enforcement authorities).
(b) No prepayment of fees.--The petition
shall be filed and service shall be made without prepayment
(c) Assessment of fees and costs.--If
the plaintiff prevails in the action, fees and costs shall
be assigned to the defendant, or should the court determine
that the defendant is not able to pay the costs of filing
and service, the court shall waive fees and costs. If the
plaintiff does not prevail, costs of filing and service may
be assigned to the plaintiff or, should the court determine
that the plaintiff is not able to pay the costs of filing
and service, the court shall waive fees and costs.
(d) Surcharge on order.--When a protection
order is granted under section 6107(a) (relating to hearings),
other than pursuant to an agreement of the parties,a surcharge
of $25 shall be assessed against the defendant. All moneys
received from surcharges shall be forwarded to the Commonwealth
and shall be used by the Pennsylvania State Police to establish
and maintain the Statewide registry of protection orders provided
for in section 6105 (relating to responsibilities of law enforcement
(e) Court to adopt means of service.--The
court shall adopt a means of prompt and effective service
in those instances where the plaintiff avers that service
cannot be safely effected by an adult individual other than
a law enforcement officer or where the court so orders.
(f) Service by sheriff.--If the court
so orders, the sheriff or other designated agency or individual
shall serve the petition and order.
(g) Service of petition and orders.--The
petition and orders shall be served upon the defendant, and
orders shall be served upon the police departments with appropriate
jurisdiction to enforce the orders. Orders shall be promptly
served on the police. Failure to serve shall not stay the
effect of a valid order.
(h) Assistance and advice to plaintiff.The
courts and hearing officers shall:
Provide simplified forms and clerical assistance
in English and Spanish to help with the writing and filing
of the petition for a protection order for an individual
not represented by counsel.
Provide the plaintiff with written and oral
referrals, in English and Spanish, to the local domestic
violence program, to the local legal services office and
to the county bar association's lawyer referral service.
§ 6107. Hearings.
(a) General rule--Within ten days of
the filing of a petition under this chapter, a hearing shall
be held before the court, at which the plaintiff must prove
the allegation of abuse by a preponderance of the evidence.
The court shall, at the time the defendant is given notice
of the hearing, advise the defendant of the right to be represented
by counsel, and of the fact that any protection order granted
by a court may be considered in any subsequent proceedings
under this title. This notice shall be printed and delivered
in a manner which easily attracts attention to its content
and shall specify that child custody is one of the proceedings
where prior protection orders may be considered.
(b) Temporary orders.--If a plaintiff
petitions for temporary order for protection from abuse and
alleges immediate and present danger of abuse to the plaintiff
or minor children, the court shall conduct an ex parte proceeding.
The court may enter such a temporary order as it deems necessary
to protect the plaintiff or minor children when it finds they
are in immediate and present danger of abuse. The order shall
remain in effect until modified or terminated by the court
after notice and hearing. Any order issued under this section
shall, where furnished by the plaintiff, specify the Social
Security number and date of birth of the defendant.
(c) Continued hearings--If a hearing
under subsection (a) is continued and no temporary order is
issued, the court may make ex parte temporary orders under
subsection (b) as it deems necessary.
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§ 6108. Relief.
(a) General rule--The court may grant
any protection order or approve any consent agreement to bring
about a cessation of abuse of the plaintiff or minor children.
The order or agreement may include:
Directing the defendant to refrain from
abusing the plaintiff or minor children.
Granting possession to the plaintiff of
the residence or household to the exclusion of the defendant
by evicting the defendant or restoring possession to the
plaintiff when the residence or household is jointly owned
or leased by the parties, is owned or leased by the entireties
or is owned or leased solely by the plaintiff.
When the defendant has a duty to support
the plaintiff or minor children living in the residence
or household and the defendant is the sole owner or lessee,
granting possession to the plaintiff of the residence
or household to the exclusion of the defendant by evicting
the defendant or restoring possession to the plaintiff
or, with the consent of the plaintiff, ordering the defendant
to provide suitable alternative housing.
Awarding temporary custody of or establishing
temporary visitation rights with regard to minor children.
A defendant shall not be granted custody, partial custody
or unsupervised visitation where it is alleged in the
petition, and the court finds after a hearing under this
chapter, that the defendant abused the minor children
of the parties or where the defendant has been convicted
of violating 18 Pa.C.S. § 2904 (relating to interference
with custody of children) within two calendar years prior
to the filing of the petition for protection order. When
the court finds after a hearing under this chapter that
the defendant has inflicted abuse upon the plaintiff or
a child, the court may require supervised custodial access
by a third party. The third party must agree to be accountable
to the court for supervision and execute an affidavit
of accountability. Where the court finds after a hearing
under this chapter that the defendant has inflicted serious
abuse upon the plaintiff or a child or poses a risk of
abuse toward the plaintiff or a child, the court may award
supervised visitation in a secure visitation facility
or may deny the defendant custodial access to the child.
If a plaintiff petitions for a temporary order under section
6107(b) (relating to hearings) and the defendant has partial,
shared or full custody of the minor children of the parties
by order of court or written agreement of the parties,
the custody shall not be disturbed or changed unless the
court finds that the defendant is likely to inflict abuse
upon the children or to remove the children from the jurisdiction
of the court prior to the hearing under section 6107(a).
Where the defendant has forcibily or fraudulently removed
any minor child from the care and custody of a plaintiff,
the court shall order the return of the child to the plaintiff
unless the child would be endangered by restoration to
the plaintiff. Nothing in this paragraph shall bar either
party from filing a petition for custody under Chapter
53 (relating to custody) or under the Pennsylvania Rules
of Civil Procedure. In order to prevent further abuse
during periods of access to the plaintiff and child during
the exercise of custodial rights, the court shall consider,
and may impose on a custody award, conditions necessary
to assure the safety of the plaintiff and minor children
After a hearing in accordance with 6107(a),
directing the defendant to pay financial support to those
persons the defendant has a duty to support, requiring
the defendant under sections 4324 (relating to inclusion
of medical support) and 4326 (relating to mandatory inclusion
of child medical support), to provide health coverage
for the minor child and spouse, directing the defendant
to pay all of the unreimbursed medical expenses of a spouse
or minor child of the defendant to the provider or to
the plaintiff when he or she has paid for the medical
treatment and directing the defendant to make or continue
to make rent or mortgage payments on the residence of
the plaintiff to the extent that the defendant has a duty
to support the plaintiff or other dependent household
members. The support order shall be temporary, and any
beneficiary of the order must file a complaint for support
under the provisions of Chapters 43 (relating to support
matters generally) and 45 (relating to reciprocal enforcement
of support orders) within two weeks of the date of the
issuance of the protection order. If a complaint for support
is not filed, that portion of the protection order requiring
the defendant to pay support is void. When there is a
subsequent ruling on a complaint for support, the portion
of the protection order requiring the defendant to pay
Prohibiting the defendant from having any
contact with the plaintiff or minor children, including,
but not limited to, restraining the defendant from entering
the place of employment or business or school of the plaintiff
or minor children and from harassing the plaintiff or
plaintiff's relatives or minor children.
Ordering the defendant to temporarily relinquish
to the sheriff the defendant's weapons which may have
been used or been threatened to be used in an incident
of abuse against the plaintiff or the minor children and
prohibiting the defendant from acquiring or possessing
any other weapons for the duration of the order and requiring
the defendant to relinquish to the sheriff any firearm
license the defendant may possess. The court's order shall
provide for the return of the weapons and any firearm
license to the defendant subject to any restrictions or
conditions as the court shall deem appropriate to protect
the plaintiff or minor children from further abuse through
the use of weapons. A copy of the courtŐs order shall
be transmitted to the chief or head of the police force
or police department of the municipality and to the sheriff
of the county of which the defendant is a resident.
Directing the defendant to pay the plaintiff
for reasonable losses suffered as a result of abuse, including
medical, dental, relocation and moving expenses; counseling;
loss of earnings or support; costs of repair or replacement
of real or personal property damaged, destroyed or taken
by the defendant or at the direction of the defendant;
and other out-of-pocket losses for injuries sustained.
In addition to out-of-pocket expenses, the court may direct
the defendant to pay reasonable attorney fees. An award
under this chapter shall not constitute a bar to litigation
for civil damages for injuries sustained from the acts
of abuse giving rise to the award or a finding of contempt
under this chapter.
Directing the defendant to refrain from
stalking or harassing the plaintiff and other designated
persons as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 2709 (relating to harassment
Granting any other appropriate relief sought
by the plaintiff.
(b) Identifying information--Any order
issued under this section shall, where furnished by either
party, specify the Social Security number and birth date of
(c) Mutual orders of protection--Mutual
orders of protection shall not be awarded unless both parties
have filed timely written petitions, complied with service
requirements under section 6106 (relating to commencement
of proceedings) and are eligible for protection under this
chapter. The court shall make separate findings and, where
issuing orders on behalf of both petitioners, enter separate
(d) Duration and amendment of order or agreement--A
protection order or approved consent agreement shall be for
a fixed period of time not to exceed 18 months. The court
may amend its order or agreement at any time upon subsequent
petition filed by either party.
(e) Extension of protection orders--
An extension of a protection order may be
Where the court finds, after a duly
filed petition, notice to the defendant and a hearing,
in accordance with the procedures set forth in sections
6106 and 6107, that the defendant committed one or
more acts of abuse subsequent to the entry of the
final order or that the defendant engaged in a pattern
or practice that indicated continued risk of harm
to the plaintiff or minor child.
When a contempt petition or charge has
been filed, but the hearing has not occurred before
the expiration of the protection order, the order
shall be extended, at a minimum, until the disposition
of the contempt petition.
Service of an extended order shall be made
in accordance with section 6109 (relating to service of
There shall be no limitation on the number
of extensions that may be granted.
(f) Support procedure--The domestic relations
section shall enforce any support award in a protection order
where the plaintiff files a complaint for support under subsection
(g) Notice--Notice shall be given to
the defendant, in orders issued under this section, stating
that violations of an order will will subject the defendant
to arrest under section 6113 (relating to violation of order)
or contempt of court under section 6114 (relating to contempt
for violation of order or agreement). Resumption of co residency
on the part of the plaintiff and defendant shall not nullify
the provisions of the court order.
(h) Title to real property unaffected.--No
order or agreement under this chapter shall in any manner
affect title to any real property.
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§ 6109. Service of orders.
(a) Issuance--A copy of an order under
this chapter shall be issued to the plaintiff, the defendant
and the police department with appropriate jurisdiction to
enforce the order or agreement in accordance with the provisions
of this chapter or as ordered by the court or hearing officer.
(b) Placement in registry.--Upon receipt
of an order, the police department shall immediately place
the order in a county registry of protection orders. The police
department shall assure that the registry is current at all
times and that orders are removed upon expiration thereof.
County registries shall not be required when the Pennsylvania
State Police registry provided for in section 6105(e) (relating
to responsibilities of law enforcement agencies) is established
and is fully operational.
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§ 6110. Emergency relief by minor judiciary
(a) General rule.--When:
in counties with less than four judges,
the court is unavailable:
from the close of business at the end
of each day to the resumption of business the next
from the end of the business week to
the beginning of the business week; and
during the business day by reason of
duties outside the county, illness or vacation;
in counties with at least four judges, the
court is unavailable:
from the close of business at the end
of each day to the resumption of business the next
from the end of the business week to
the beginning of the business week;
a petition may be filed before a hearing officer
who may grant relief in accordance with section 6108(a)(1),
(2) and (6) or (1) and (6) (relating to relief) if the hearing
officer deems it necessary to protect the plaintiff or minor
children from abuse upon good cause shown in an ex parte proceeding.
Immediate and present danger of abuse to the plaintiff or
minor children shall constitute good cause for the purposes
of this subsection.
(b) Expiration of order.--An order issued
under subsection (a) shall expire at the end of the next business
day the court deems itself available. The court shall schedule
hearings on protection orders entered by hearing officers
under subsection (a) and shall review and continue in effect
protection orders that are necessary to protect the plaintiff
or minor children from abuse until the hearing, at which time
the plaintiff may seek a temporary order from the court.
(c) Certification of order to court.--An
emergency order issued under this section and any documentation
in support thereof shall be immediately certified to the court.
The certification to the court shall have the effect of commencing
proceedings under section 6106 (relating to commencement of
proceedings) and invoking the other provisions of this chapter.
If it is not already alleged in a petition for an emergency
order, the plaintiff shall file a verified statement setting
forth the abuse of defendant at least five days prior to the
hearing. Service of the verified statement shall be made subject
to section 6106.
(d) Instructions regarding the commencement
of proceedings.--Upon issuance of an emergency order,
the hearing officer shall provide the plaintiff instructions
regarding the commencement of proceedings in the court of
common pleas at the beginning of the next business day and
regarding the procedures for initiating a contempt charge
should the defendant violate the emergency order. The hearing
officer shall also advise the plaintiff of the existence of
programs for victims of domestic violence in the county or
in nearby counties and inform the plaintiff of the availability
of legal assistance without cost if the plaintiff is unable
to pay for them.
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§ 6111. Domestic violence counselor/advocate.
A domestic violence counselor/advocate may accompany
a party to any legal proceeding or hearing under this chapter.
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§ 6112. Disclosure of addresses.
During the course of a proceeding under this
chapter, the court or hearing officer may consider whether
the plaintiff or plaintiff's family is endangered by disclosure
of the permanent or temporary address of the plaintiff or
minor children. Neither in the pleadings nor during proceedings
or hearings under this chapter shall the court or hearing
officer require disclosure of the address of a domestic violence
program. Where the court concludes that the defendant poses
a threat of continued danger to the plaintiff and where the
plaintiff requests that his or her address, telephone number
and information about whereabouts not be disclosed, the court
shall enter an order directing that law enforcement agencies,
human service agencies and school districts (both in which
a plaintiff's child in custody of the plaintiff is or has
been enrolled) shall not disclose the presence of the plaintiff
or the child in the jurisdiction or district or furnish any
address, telephone number or any other demographic information
about the plaintiff and child except by further order of the
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§ 6113. Arrest for violation of order.
(a) General rule.--An arrest for violation
of an order issued pursuant to this chapter may be without
warrant upon probable cause whether or not the violation is
committed in the presence of the police officer in circumstances
where the defendant has violated a provision of an order consistent
with section 6108(a)(1), (2), (3), (4), (6) or (7) (relating
to relief). The police officer may verify, if necessary, the
existence of a protection order by telephone or radio communication
with the appropriate police department, county registry or
issuing authority. A police officer shall arrest a defendant
for violating an order issued under this chapter by a court
within the judicial district, issued by a court in another
judicial district within this Commonwealth or issued by another
state and registered pursuant to this chapter or verified
through the Pennsylvania State Police registry.
(b) Seizure of weapons--Subsequent to
an arrest, the police officer shall seize all weapons used
or threatened to be use(l during the violation of the protection
order or during prior incidents of abuse. As soon as it is
reasonably possible, the arresting officer shall deliver the
confiscated weapons to the office of the sheriff. The sheriff
shall maintain possession of the weapons until the court issues
an order specifying the weapons to be relinquished and the
persons to whom the weapons shall be relinquished.
(c) Procedure following arrest--Subsequent
to an arrest, the defendant shall be taken by the police officer
without unnecessary delay before the court in the judicial
district where the contempt is alleged to have occurred. When
that court is unavailable, the police officer shall convey
the defendant to a district justice designated as appropriate
by local rules of court, or, in the city of Pittsburgh, to
a magistrate of the Pittsburgh Magistrates Court or, in counties
of the first class, to the appropriate hearing officer. For
purposes of procedure relating to arraignments for arrest
for violation of an order issued under this chapter, the judges
of Pittsburgh Magistrates Court shall be deemed to be district
(d) Preliminary arraignment--The defendant
shall be afforded a preliminary arraignment without unnecessary
(e) Other emergency powers unaffected--This
section shall not be construed to in any way limit any of
the other powers for emergency relief provided in this chapter.
(f) Hearing--A hearing shall be scheduled
within ten days of the filing of the charge or complaint of
indirect criminal contempt. The hearing and any adjudication
shall not preclude a hearing on other criminal charges underlying
the contempt, nor shall a hearing or adjudication on other
criminal charges preclude a hearing on a charge of indirect
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§ 6113.1 Private criminal complaints
for violation of order or agreement.
(a) General rule--A plaintiff may file
a private criminal complaint against a defendant, alleging
indirect criminal contempt for a noneconomic violation of
any provision of an order or court-approved consent agreement
issued under this chapter, with the court, the office of the
district attorney or the district justice in the jurisdiction
or county where the violation occurred, except that, in a
city of the first class a complaint may only be filed with
the family division of the court of common pleas or the office
of the district attorney.
(b) Procedure service--Procedure for
filing and service of a private criminal complaint shall be
provided as set forth by local rule.
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§ 6114. Contempt for violation of order
(a) General rule.--Where the police or
the plaintiff have filed charges of indirect criminal contempt
against a defendant for violation of a protection order issued
under this chapter or a court-approved consent agreement,
the court may hold the defendant in indirect criminal contempt
and punish the defendant in accordance with the law.
(a.1) Jurisdiction.--A court shall have
jurisdiction over indirect criminal contempt charges for violation
of a protection order in the county where the violation occurred.
(a.2) Minor defendant.--Any defendant
who is a minor and who is charged with indirect criminal contempt
for allegedly violating a protection from abuse order shall
be considered to have committed an alleged delinquent act
as that term is defined in 42 Pa.C.S. § 6302 (relating to
definitions) and shall be treated as provided in 42 Pa.C.S.
Ch. 63 (relating to juvenile matters.)
(b) Trial and punishment --A sentence
for contempt under this chapter may include imprisonment up
to six months or a fine of not less than $100 or more than
$1,000, or both, and may include other relief set forth in
this chapter. All monies received under this section shall
be forwarded to the Commonwealth and shall be used by the
Pennsylvania State Police to establish and maintain the Statewide
registry of protection orders provided for in section 6105
(relating to responsibilities of law enforcement agencies).
The defendant shall not have a right to a jury trial on such
a charge; however, the defendant shall be entitled to counsel.
(c) Notification upon release--The appropriate
releasing authority or other official as designated by local
rule shall use all reasonable means to notify the victim sufficiently
in advance of the release of the offender from any incarceration
imposed under subsection (b). Notification shall be required
for work release, furlough, medical leave, community service,
discharge, escape and recapture. Notification shall include
the terms and conditions imposed on any temporary release
from custody. The plaintiff must keep the appropriate releasing
authority or other official as designated by local rule advised
of contact information; failure to do so will constitute waiver
of any right to notification under this section.
(d) Multiple remedies--Disposition of
a charge or indirect criminal contempt shall not preclude
the prosecution of other criminal charges associated with
the incident giving rise to the contempt, nor shall disposition
of other criminal charges preclude prosecution of indirect
criminal contempt associated with the criminal conduct giving
rise to the charges.
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§ 6114.1 Civil Contempt or modification
for violation of an order or agreement.
(a) General Rule--A plaintiff may file
a petition for civil contempt with the issuing court alleging
that the defendant has violated any provision of an order
or court-approved consent agreement issued under this chapter.
(b) Civil contempt order--Upon finding
of a violation of a protection order or court-approved consent
agreement issued under this chapter, the court, either pursuant
to petition for civil contempt or on its own accord, may hold
the defendant in civil contempt and constrain him in accordance
(c) Sentencing--A sentence for civil
contempt under this chapter may include imprisonment until
the defendant complies with provisions in the order or consent
agreement or demonstrates the intent to do so, but in no case
shall a term of imprisonment under this section exceed a period
of six months.
(d) Jury trial and counsel--The defendant
shall not have a right to a jury trial; however, the defendant
shall be entitled to counsel.
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§ 6115. Reporting abuse and immunity.
(a) Reporting--A person having reasonable
cause to believe that a person is being abused may report
the information to the local police department.
(b) Contents of report--The report shall
contain the name and address of the abused person, information
regarding the nature and extent of the abuse and information
which the reporter believes may be helpful to prevent further
(c) Immunity--A person who makes a report
shall be immune from a civil or criminal liability on account
of the report unless the person acted in bad faith or with
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§ 6116. Confidentiality.
Unless a victim waives the privilege in a signed
writing prior to testimony or disclosure, a domestic violence
counselor/advocate or a coparticipant who is present during
domestic violence counseling/advocacy shall not be competent
nor permitted to testify or to otherwise disclose confidential
communications made to or by the counselor/advocate by or
to a victim. the privilege shall terminate upon the death
of the victim. Neither the domestic violence counselor/advocate
nor the victim shall waive the privilege of confidential communications
by reporting facts of physical or sexual assault under Chapter
63 (relating to child protective services), a Federal or State
mandatory reporting statute or a local mandatory reporting
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§ 6117. Procedure and other remedies.
Unless otherwise indicated in this chapter,
a proceeding under this chapter shall be in accordance with
applicable general rules and shall be in addition to any other
available civil or criminal remedies. The plaintiff and the
defendant may seek modification of an order issued under section
6108 (relating to relief) at any time during the pendency
of an order. Modification may be ordered after the filing
of a petition for modification, service of the petition and
a hearing on the petition.
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§ 6118. Full faith and credit.
(a) General rule--Any protection order
issued by a court of another state and registered under section
6104 (relating to registration of order) shall be accorded
full faith and credit by the courts of common pleas of this
Commonwealth and enforced as if it were issued in this Commonwealth
only if the issuing court had jurisdiction under the law of
the other state at the time of issuance.
(b) Affirmative defense--A defendant
must have been given reasonable notice and the opportunity
to be heard before the order of the other state was issued,
provided, in the case of ex parte orders, notice and opportunity
to be heard was given as soon as possible after the order
was issued, consistent with due process. Failure to provide
reasonable notice and opportunity to be heard shall be an
affirmative defense to enforcement of the registered protection
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