What should I do when I leave the courthouse?
Here are some things you may want to consider doing. However, you will have to evaluate each one to see if it works for your situation.
- Review the order before you leave the courthouse. If something is wrong or missing, ask the clerk how to correct the order before you leave.
- Make several copies of the order as soon as possible.
- Keep a copy of the order with you at all times.
- Leave copies of the order at your work place, at your home, at the children’s school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on.
- Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work along with a photo of the offender.
- Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
- If the court has not given you an extra copy for your local law enforcement agency, take one of your extra copies and deliver it to them.
- You may wish to consider changing your locks (if permitted by law) and your phone number.
Where can I go for non-legal help and support?
You may want to reach out for support to deal with the trauma of being a victim of sexual violence or intimidation – there are places that you can call for help. There are also Internet “chat rooms” for victims of sexual violence or intimidation where you can remain anonymous and still get support from others who have been through similar assaults. Go to our National Organizations - Rape/Sexual Assault page for resources.
How do I change or extend my protection from sexual violence or intimidation order?
You can extend an ex parte temporary protection from sexual violence or intimidation order if the judge thinks that you are at a continued risk of harm because of the offender’s actions or because of other circumstances. The abuser must be given notice and the opportunity to participate in a hearing before the judge extends your order. The judge can issue an unlimited number of extensions of your order.1
Either party can request that the judge modify (change) the relief granted in a protection order any time while the order is in effect. The party requesting that the judge change the order must give the other party notice of that request. Then, the judge will decide whether or not to change the order after a hearing.2
1 42 Pa.C.S. § 62A07(d)
2 42 Pa.C.S. § 62A17(a)
What can I do if the abuser violates the order?
You may want to call the police if the abuser violates a provision of your order. If the officer has probable cause to believe that the abuser violated the order, the abuser may be arrested.1 It is a crime to knowingly violate a court order, and the judge can punish someone for being in contempt of court. A contempt hearing will be scheduled within 10 days of the abuser being charged or the filing of a complaint.2
For more information about contempt, including the difference between criminal contempt and civil contempt, go to our general Domestic Violence Restraining Orders page.
1 42 Pa.C.S. § 62A12(a)
2 42 Pa.C.S. § 62A12(e)
If I get a protection order, will it show up in an internet search?
According to federal law, which applies to all states, territories, and tribal lands, the courts are not supposed to make available publicly on the internet any information that would be likely to reveal your identity or location. This applies to all of these documents:
- the petition you file;
- the protection order, restraining order, or injunction that was issued by the court; or
- the registration of an order in a different state.1
1 18 USC § 2265(d)(3)