Protection Order Information
Protection from Abuse Order
A Protection from Abuse (PFA) order is designed to protect victims towards an intimate partner or a family member for the following abuses:
- Attempting to cause or causing bodily injury (physical injury), involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, rape, or spousal sexual assault
- Being placed in reasonable fear of injury by a physical or verbal threat or menacing gesture
- Being kept in a place against your will by force or threat of force
- Physical or sexual abuse of a child
- Being followed or threatened in a way to place one in reasonable fear of bodily injury
Sexual Violence Protection Order
A Sexual Violence Protection Order (SVP) is designed to protect victims of sexual violence from further abuse and/or intimidation by their abuser, regardless of whether or not criminal charges have been filed against the perpetrator. Similar in many ways to a Protection from Abuse Order (PFA), the key difference lies in the relationship between the abuser and the victim. While PFAs require an intimate or household relationship between the two parties, a SVPO does not and is available to victims of sexual violence who are at continued risk of harm from their perpetrator.
Protection from Intimidation Order
A Protection from Intimidation (PFI) is a court order that prohibits adult offenders from intimidating (harassing and stalking) minor victims who are not in a relationship with the offender.
Protection Order Hearings
A hearing must be scheduled within ten business days after the day a petition for protection is filed and any temporary order is issued.
For the hearing, Plaintiffs (persons who filed the petition) can represent themselves, hire private counsel, or they may be eligible to have representation at no cost by the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic or MidPenn Legal Services. If legal representation is desired, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as a hearing has been scheduled. Copies of all Protection Orders are sent to law enforcement agencies with jurisdiction or reason to enforce it. Copies also are maintained in a statewide database.
Violations of Protection Orders are considered contempt of court. All violations of the Temporary Orders or Final Orders should be promptly reported to the local law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction to enforce the order. Indirect Criminal Contempt hearings are scheduled before a judge within 10 days of arraignment.
The majority of criminal contempt proceedings will be prosecuted by the Office of the District Attorney. In certain types of civil contempt, the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic may assist a victim at the contempt hearing.
Where to File a Protection Order
You can file a Protection from Abuse Petition with an attorney, with advocate assistance, or through the Bail Administration Office. You may wish to see an attorney or other persons knowledgeable about abuse to discuss whether a protection order is what you need or want. You may contact a private attorney or one of the following offices:
- Bail Administration
50 N. Duke St.
5th Floor Courthouse
Lancaster, PA 17602
- Domestic Violence Legal Clinic
35 E. Orange St.
Lancaster, PA 17602
**Forms are available in a fillable format on the right-hand side of this webpage under “Protection from Abuse Forms” if you wish to fill them out in advance and bring them with you.**
How to File a Protection Order
Protection petitions are taken Monday - Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Please note, this is a lengthy process and may take several hours to complete. The staff of Bail Administration will assist you in filling out a petition; however, they are not legal advocates and therefore cannot provide legal advice.
You will need to be present to go before the assigned judge at 3:00 p.m. for a protection petition hearing. Before leaving the Bail Administration Office, you will receive a copy of your protection order that you should keep with you at all times. There will be another hearing within 7 – 10 days with the intention of entering a final protection order.
The Sheriff will notify the defendant that a protection order has been issued by serving a copy of the petition, notice of hearing, and order to him/her. The Sheriff's Department will notify you once service has been made.
Emergency Protection Orders
If you are in need of protection and the courthouse is closed, you should call your local police department and tell them you want to file for a Protection from Abuse Order. The police will be able to help you contact the magisterial district judge that is on-call. An Emergency Order is active until the following business day when court is again in session.