Protection From Abuse Office
Welcome to the York County Protection From Abuse (PFA) Office.
Please find general information about the PFA Office as well as information about protection orders below. Protection Orders include a Protection From Abuse (PFA), Protection From Intimidation (PFI) and Sexual Violence Protection (SVP). See below for information about the office and also about protection orders.
Where Is the PFA Office Located?
The PFA Office is located at the York County Judicial Center at 45 North George Street, York, PA 17401. It is the first stop for anyone hoping to file for a protection order in York County.
- The PFA Office is located on the first floor to the left of the front entrance.
- The office is open from 8 am to 4 pm on days the Judicial Center is open.
- The phone number is 717-771-9662.
No food or drink may be brought into the Judicial Center. Also, you will not be able to bring your cell phone into the building.
What Types of Protection Orders Exist in PA & What Protection Is Available?
Pennsylvania has three types of protection orders:
- Protection From Abuse (PFA)
- Victim must be family or have a household relationship with the defendant or have, or have had, an intimate or sexual relationship with the defendant.
- Domestic violence includes physical violence or threats of physical violence.
- Relief available includes 'no contact,' relinquishment of firearms, financial support, remove the defendant (in some instances) from the home and any other appropriate relief sought by the petitioner and granted by the judge.
- Protection From Intimidation (PFI)
- Victim must be a minor and the defendant must be an adult.
- No family, dating or household relationship with the defendant.
- No intimate or sexual relationship with the defendant.
- Intimidation includes harassment and stalking offenses.
- Relief available includes 'no contact' and any other appropriate relief sought by the petitioner and granted by the judge
- Sexual Violence Protection (SVP)
- No family or household relationship with the defendant.
- No intimate or sexual relationship with the defendant.
- Sexual violence includes sexual offenses including sexual abuse, exploitation and endangering the welfare of children.
- Relief available includes 'no contact' and any other appropriate relief sought by the petitioner and granted by the judge.
Disclaimer: The information above is pulled from the Protection From Abuse Act and the Protection From Sexual Violence and Intimidation Act. It is not intended as a replacement for legal advice. Only an attorney can tell you if you are qualified to file a petition for a protection order.
What Services Are Available at the PFA Office?
Advocates provide options counseling, safety planning and assistance for those people seeking a PFA, PFI or SVP. Assistance includes, but isn't limited to, scribing to complete the required paperwork, providing support through the filing process and providing support at hearings. While assistance is provided, advocates do not provide legal advice. Services are available on a first come, first serve basis. If advocates deem a visitor to not qualify for their services, the visitor is sent to the Court Self Help Center to complete paperwork independently.
Domestic Violence Services in York County
The PFA Office is staffed by advocates from YWCA York Victim Services and YWCA Hanover Safe Home. Advocates are available each day the Judicial Center is open until 4 pm. For assistance before 8 am or after 4 pm or for assistance on days the Judicial Center is not open, contact one of the agencies listed below at the provided hot-line number.
Access - York: 800-262-8444
Safe Home - Hanover: 717-632-0007
Do I need an attorney?
It is not required to have an attorney to file a PFA, PFI or SVP or if one has been filed against you. It is up to you to decide whether or not you need an attorney. If you decide you want an attorney and cannot afford one, you may be able to get a reduced price.
Modest Means/Attorney Connection
Mid Penn Legal Services
29 North Queen Street
York, PA 17403
Note: These agencies set their own standards regarding who they will represent. You are not guaranteed an attorney.
What is the Process to File for a PFA, PFI or SVP?
Filing for a Protection Order begins by either working with an advocate or working independently in the Self Help Center to complete an application packet. The packet includes information for the petition and also important information needed to serve the petition and any subsequent orders. Once the petition has been filed, a hearing is scheduled to address the allegations you made in the petition. Both you and the defendant will be expected to be at the hearing. You have the option of speaking with the Judge to request a temporary order until the date and time of the final hearing. This hearing is called an ex parte hearing meaning it is between you and the Judge and doesn't include the other party.
How Is the Defendant Notified of the Order & Hearing?
The defendant must be served with a copy of the petition, notice of hearing and any temporary order that was issued. The York County Sheriff's Department makes every attempt to serve the documents within twenty-four (24) hours assuming the address provided is correct. The additional addresses and service information provided on the application packet is very important to serve the papers quickly and safely.
Am I Protected by My Protection Order Outside York County?
Protection Orders are enforceable in all fifty (50) states, the District of Columbia, Tribal Lands and all U.S. Territories including the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Protection Orders are registered immediately with the Pennsylvania State Police Protection From Abuse Registry. The information is then submitted to the federal crime registry. If you relocate, work or otherwise spend time outside York County you should:
File a certified copy of the order with the Civil Court clerk or Prothonotary of the county where you are staying either temporarily or permanently.
Hand deliver a certified copy to the police department that covers the area where you are located either temporarily or permanently.
If you work and live in different jurisdictions, consider delivering certified copies to all police departments.
What if the Order Is Violated?
If the defendant violates an order, you should contact the police immediately to report the violation. A hearing may be scheduled so the Judge can determine the defendant's guilt or innocence. A defendant who is found guilty of violating a protection order can be placed in jail for up to six months and/or fined $1,000 for each violation. A defendant who travels to another state and intentionally violates the order may be subject to federal criminal proceedings. At a hearing to determine whether the defendant has violated the protection order, the victim may request the protection order be extended. A new protection order will be prepared and served on all parties if an extension is granted.
What if I Want to Change the Protection Order?
Protection Orders are entered for a term of six months to three years. Sometimes changes are necessary. To modify a protection order, you must file modification paperwork. The PFA Office may be able to provide support. If not, the paperwork is available in the Self Help Center. Hearings are typically scheduled within thirty days but may be expedited based on the allegations in the petition. This is especially true when the modification requested is to make the protection order more restrictive.
Note: Even if you grant the defendant permission to contact you, the defendant is still subject to prosecution for violating the order until a no contact protection order is modified by a Judge.
How Do I File for a PFA, PFI,or SVP When the Judicial Center Is Closed?
When the Judicial Center is not open for business, you may apply for an emergency PFA, PFI or SVP. An emergency PFA, PFI or SVP is good until the end of the next business day which is 4:30 pm in York County. To begin, go directly to the York County Judicial Center.
- The doors are locked from 7 pm until 7 am. Press the buzzer next to the front door to speak with a deputy who will escort you to the Sheriff Office.
You will be required to fill out a petition and will then have a hearing with the Magisterial District Judge (MDJ) on duty. The MDJ will most likely appear by video and will ask you questions about the petition you completed. You will be told immediately if you are granted an emergency protection order.
Note: While an emergency protection order is good until the end of the next business day, the PFA Office does not make appointments so it is in your best interest to arrive at the Judicial Center as soon as possible the next business day in order to ensure a hearing with a Common Pleas Judge before the emergency order expires.