According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than two million Pennsylvanians have become unemployed since the COVID-19 shutdown began in March 2020. As a result, competition for the best jobs has increased. In a highly competitive job market, a PFA record can make it even harder to find work. Therefore, expungement of your PFA record can boost your employment opportunities and help restore your reputation.
Bucks County PFA Expungement Lawyer
I have over a decade of experience assisting individuals with PFA expungement in Bucks County, Montgomery County, and the surrounding Pennsylvania counties. I can determine whether you are eligible for PFA record expungement. Contact me at (215) 752-5282 for a free initial consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response.
What Is a PFA Record?
The Pennsylvania Protection from Abuse Act (PFAA) created a statewide registry of PFA records. The records in this registry include temporary PFA Orders, Final PFA Orders, PFA Consent agreements, and Registered Foreign Protection Orders.
PFA records may also exist within the Pennsylvania State Police, local police departments, county sheriff’s departments, county district attorney, and county clerk of courts. These records include PFA Petitions, court docket entries, and incident reports related to the case.
The Impact of a PFA Record
Unfortunately, some domestic partners fabricate, exaggerate, or embellish abuse allegations to retaliate against a former intimate partner or spouse. Significantly, once the court orders a temporary or permanent PFA, a PFA judge may consider the previous PFA order if the plaintiff files a subsequent PFA against the same person. Also, a family court judge may use a PFA record as evidence against a parent in a custody matter.
How a PFA Record Can Affect Your Ability to Get a Job
Most employers conduct background checks on job applicants to identify individuals who may pose a threat to others or become liabilities for the company. Someone with a PFA record may have trouble finding a job in a field that involves contact with children or the elderly. Additionally, a PFA history might prevent a person from obtaining a job in law enforcement, healthcare, and fields requiring a security clearance. Unfortunately, most people do not realize that a record of the PFA can appear on a background check long after dismissal or expiration of that PFA.
The Stigma of a Domestic Abuse Accusation
A domestic abuse accusation can have far-ranging consequences for your personal and professional lives. In many cases, potential employers will hesitate to hire you if you are facing merely an accusation (and not a conviction) of domestic abuse. Additionally, a domestic abuse accusation can affect your reputation among your neighbors, relatives, and friends. Even when the plaintiff fails to prove the charges in court, your personal and professional reputation can suffer.
Which Types of PFAs Can Be Expunged?
Under Pennsylvania law, certain types of PFA records can be expunged, including:
- Withdrawn PFA petitions
- PFA petitions dismissed after a final hearing
- PFA petitions dismissed before a final hearing
- Temporary PFA petitions that have expired
How to Expunge a PFA
The PFA expungement process typically begins when a petitioner files a PFA Expungement Petition in the Family Court Prothonotary in the county where the plaintiff filed the PFA. The petitioner must serve a copy of the PFA Expungement Petition on the plaintiff by certified mail. In some cases, the court will schedule a hearing on the petition. However, in most cases, if the request for expungement faces no opposition, the court will issue an Order for Expungement of the PFA records without a formal hearing.
The Legal Standard for PFA Expungement
In the 2002 case Carlacci v. Mazaleski, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that an individual is entitled to expungement of PFA records if the PFA proceedings did not move beyond the temporary order phase. However, the court also ruled that once the case reaches the final hearing stage, and the PFA court issues a final order, expungement is no longer allowed.
The Carlacci case established that an individual is entitled to expungement of PFA records as a matter of law when the PFA does not become a permanent order. Fortunately, many cases never result in a permanent PFA Order and are therefore eligible for expungement.
How Are PFA Records Expunged?
Once the court approves a PFA Expungement Order, the prothonotary of the domestic relations department will send a certified copy of the order to any agency maintaining records of the PFA, including:
- Pennsylvania State Police Protection from Abuse Database
- Domestic Relations Prothonotary
- County Sheriff
- County Clerk of Courts
- Local Police Department
- Pennsylvania State Police
- County District Attorney
Start the PFA Expungement Process Now
Don’t let a PFA record destroy your reputation and limit your employment opportunities. Contact me if you have a record for a dismissed, withdrawn, or expired PFA case in Bucks County, Montgomery County, or the surrounding counties. Phone lines are open 24 hours a day at (215) 752-5282. Contact me for a free initial consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response.