Am I eligible to file for a protection from sexual violence or intimidation order?
To get a protection from sexual violence or intimidation order, you must show that you have been the victim of sexual violence or intimidation by someone who is not a family/household member or someone with whom you had a prior intimate relationship. For the definitions of sexual violence and intimidation, see What is the legal definition of sexual violence and intimidation?
If you are a victim of sexual violence or intimidation by a current/former intimate partner or family/household member, then you may qualify for a protection from abuse order.1
1 42 Pa.C.S. § 62A03
How much does it cost to get a protection from sexual violence or intimidation order?
There is no fee for filing a petition or having it served on the offender (known as “service of process”). Also, there is no fee for registering, withdrawing, dismissing, or appealing a sexual violence or intimidation protection order.1
1 42 Pa.C.S. § 62A05(c)(1)(i)
You can find more information about service of process in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section, in the question called What is service of process and how do I accomplish it?
Can I file a petition on my own? Do I need a lawyer?
You do not need a lawyer to file a sexual violence or intimidation protection order – you can file on your own. However, you may wish to have a lawyer represent you on the case, especially if the abuser has a lawyer. If you can, contact a lawyer to make sure that your legal rights are protected. If you cannot afford a lawyer but want one to help you with your case, you can find information on legal assistance on the PA Finding a Lawyer page.
The court staff will provide you with basic forms to help you file for your restraining order and will assist you in English and Spanish with filing for an order if you do not have a lawyer. The court staff will also give you contact information in English and Spanish for local sexual assault services, legal services, and bar associations to find a lawyer.1
1 42 Pa.C.S. § 62A05(e)(1),(2)
If you are going to be in court without a lawyer, our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section may be useful to you.
Can a minor or incapacitated adult file for a protection from sexual violence or intimidation order?
Yes, if you are an emancipated minor, you can file for a protection order (an emancipated minor is someone who has gone through the court process to become legally recognized as an adult). If you are under the age of 18 and not emancipated, a parent, adult household member, or guardian ad litem can file for a protection order on your behalf. A guardian of an incapacitated adult (as decided by a judge) can file for a restraining order on behalf of the adult.1
1 42 Pa.C.S. § 62A05(a)