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Administrative Order No. 19 Protection From Abuse Actions

The following policies, practice and procedures are hereby approved in implementation of the Protection From Abuse Act of October 7, 1976, P.L. 218, 35 P.S. §10181 et seq., as amended.

STATEMENT OF POLICY

It is the purpose and policy of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County by this Administrative Order to implement and effectuate the Protection From Abuse Act and the Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation Act, to streamline and facilitate enforcement, and to eliminate procedural obstacles and limitations where substantial justice requires forthright action on the part of the police, the Magisterial District Judge and this Court.

In order to implement the Protection From Abuse Act, 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 6101, et seq., as amended, and the Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation Act, 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 62A01, et seq., as amended, the following policies, practices and procedures are hereby approved.

1.   Actions for Protection From Abuse shall be commenced and prosecuted in accordance with the provisions of Pa.R.C.P. No. 1901, et seq. and 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 6101 et seq.  Actions for Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation shall be commenced and prosecuted in accordance with the provisions of Pa.R.C.P. No. 1951, et seq., and 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 62A01, et seq.

2.   Actions seeking emergency relief under the Protection From Abuse Act shall be commenced and prosecuted pursuant to the provisions of Pa.R.C.P.M.D.J. No. 1201 et seq. and 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 6110 et seq.  Actions seeking emergency relief under the Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation Act shall be commenced and prosecuted in accordance with the provisions of Pa.R.C.P.M.D.J. No. 1201, et seq., and 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 62A09, et seq.

3.   Emergency orders for protection pursuant to either the Protection From Abuse Act or Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation Act may be issued by a Magisterial District Judge at the following times:

 

          (a)     on Monday through Thursday, from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. on the next day the Court of Common Pleas is open for business; and

          (b)     during weekend periods, from 12:00 p.m. on Friday (or otherwise, 12:00 p.m. on the last day of the week on which the Court of Common Pleas is open for business) to 8 a.m. on the next day the Court of Common Pleas is open for business.

4. If an emergency order of protection has issued pursuant to either the Protection From Abuse Act or Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation Act, the plaintiff and, if available, the defendant, shall be informed of the following:

      (a)     that the Magisterial District Judge's order will expire at the close of the next Court of Common Pleas business day, and that a further order may be issued only by the Court of Common Pleas;

      (b)     that a certification of the Magisterial District Judge's record will be made immediately to the Court of Common Pleas and will have the effect of commencing proceedings in the Court of Common Pleas;

      (c)     that the plaintiff must complete a petition or a verified statement setting forth either the abuse by the defendant, as required in 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 6110(c), or the violence or intimidation by the defendant, as required by 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 62A09(c), which shall accompany the certified emergency order forwarded to the Court of Common Pleas as a basis for the extension of the emergency order, if granted by the Court of Common Pleas, and also serve as a record for a hearing;

      (d)     that a hearing will be held in the Court of Common Pleas within the next ten business days; and

      (e)     that if plaintiff fails to appear at the hearing, the petition may be dismissed.

      If practicable, notice of the time and place of the hearing shall be hand-delivered to the parties and each shall sign a receipt.

      In cases in which defendant is not present, the defendant shall be served with the information contained in this paragraph and notice of the hearing in the same manner and at the same time as service of the order of protection under Pa.R.C.P.M.D.J. No. 1209.

     5. Actions for contempt of an order for Protection From Abuse shall be commenced in accordance with 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 6113 et seq. and Pa.R.C.P. No. 1901.5 et seq.  Actions for contempt of an order for Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation shall be commenced in accordance with 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 62A14 et seq. and Pa.R.C.P. No. 1955 et seq

     6.  If a defendant is arrested for violation of an order of protection issued pursuant to either the Protection From Abuse Act or Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation Act by a Court of Common Pleas Judge, an emergency order issued by a Magisterial District Judge pursuant to such Acts, or a duly registered foreign protection order, the defendant forthwith shall be preliminarily arraigned before a Magisterial District Judge.

     7.  At the preliminary arraignment, a defendant arrested for violation of an order of protection issued pursuant to either the Protection From Abuse Act or Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation Act shall be notified of the following:

      (a)     that the defendant is charged with criminal contempt for violation of the order of protection;

      (b)     that a hearing will be held in the Court of Common Pleas within the next ten business days;

      (c)     that defendant is entitled to be represented by counsel, and, if defendant is unable to afford counsel, counsel will be appointed at no cost to defendant; and

      (d)     that if defendant fails to appear at the hearing, a bench warrant may be issued for defendant's arrest.

Bail shall be set to insure defendant's presence at the contempt hearing in accordance with Pa.R.Crim.P. No. 4004 including, without limitation, the condition that defendant not contact the plaintiff or members of the plaintiff's household, directly or indirectly, in the meantime.

Notice of the time and place of the hearing shall be hand-delivered to the parties and each shall sign a receipt. The office of the Magisterial District Judge shall notify an unrepresented plaintiff that a lawyer may be obtained from Legal Aid of Southeastern PA and/or the Bucks County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service. 

Plaintiffs shall also be provided contact information for A Woman's Place, a domestic violence center, NOVA (Network of Victim Assistance), or for any other local public or private domestic violence/sexual assault agencies approved by the Court of Common Pleas.

     8.  The office of the Magisterial District Judge shall cause the emergency order and petition, together with any other documentation and the receipts for notice of the hearing, to be forwarded immediately to the Office of the Prothonotary, Family Court Division.

     9.  The Office of the Prothonotary, Family Court Division, shall be responsible for notifying the Court Administrator's Office of all cases to be scheduled for hearings.

     10.         In all cases commenced under either the Protection From Abuse Act or Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation Act, neither the fact of the plaintiff’s or victim’s presence within the jurisdiction or district, nor any address, telephone number, or any other demographic information about the plaintiff or victim (to include in appropriate cases, any minor children of the plaintiff) shall be disclosed by the court, the court filing office, or any relevant law enforcement agencies, human service agencies, and school districts to any third party except by order of court.