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Legal Information: Pennsylvania

Statutes: Pennsylvania

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Updated: 
August 3, 2021

6106. Commencement of proceedings

(a) General rule.–An adult or an emancipated minor may seek relief under this chapter for that person or any parent, adult household member or guardian ad litem may seek relief under this chapter on behalf of minor children, or a guardian of the person of an adult who has been declared incompetent under 20 Pa.C.S. Ch. 51 Subch. B (relating to appointment of guardian) may seek relief on behalf of the incompetent adult, by filing a petition with the court alleging abuse by the defendant.

(a.1) False reports.–A person who knowingly gives false information to any law enforcement officer with the intent to implicate another under this chapter commits an offense under 18 Pa.C.S. § 4906 (relating to false reports to law enforcement authorities).

(a.2) Notification of defendant’s occupation.–The plaintiff shall notify the court if the plaintiff has reason to believe that the defendant is a licensed firearms dealer, is employed by a licensed firearms dealer or manufacturer, is employed as a writer, researcher or technician in the firearms or hunting industry or is required to carry a firearm as a condition of employment.

(a.3) Notification of need to protect plaintiff.–The plaintiff shall notify the court anytime during the period commencing upon filing the petition and granting of an order or approving a consent agreement at a hearing held under section 6107(a) (relating to hearings) if the plaintiff has reason to believe the plaintiff’s safety is at risk. In such a case, the court shall direct the Pennsylvania State Police, the municipal police or the sheriff to accompany the plaintiff to the plaintiff’s residence to retrieve personal belongings or to accompany the plaintiff while the petition or order is served upon the defendant by the sheriff or competent adult, as set forth in the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure.

(a.4) Notification regarding child abuse investigation.–

(1) If the plaintiff has knowledge of a founded or indicated report of child abuse under Chapter 63 (relating to child protective services) involving the defendant, the petition shall include that information together with the name of the investigative agency.

(2) The notice of hearing and order shall include notice to the defendant that an order issued under this chapter may have an impact on the defendant under Chapter 63. The court shall develop procedures to implement the provisions of this paragraph.

(b) Plaintiff fees not permitted.–No plaintiff seeking relief under this chapter shall be charged any fees or costs associated with the filing, issuance, registration or service of a petition, motion, complaint, order or any other filing. Prohibited fees or costs shall include, but are not limited to, those associated with modifying, withdrawing, dismissing or certifying copies of a petition, motion, complaint, order or any other filing, as well as any judicial surcharge or computer system fee. No plaintiff seeking relief under this chapter shall be charged any fees or costs associated with filing a motion for reconsideration or an appeal from any order or action taken pursuant to this chapter. Nothing in this subsection is intended to expand or diminish the court’s authority to enter an order pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. No. 1023.1 (relating to Scope. Signing of Documents. Representations to the Court. Violation).

(c) Assessment of fees and costs against the defendant.–When an order is granted pursuant to this chapter, fees and costs shall be assessed against the defendant. The court shall waive fees and costs upon a showing of good cause or when the court makes a finding that the defendant is not able to pay the costs. Nothing in this subsection is intended to expand or diminish the court’s authority to enter an order pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. No. 1023.1.

(d) Surcharge on order.–When a protection order is granted under section 6107(a), other than pursuant to an agreement of the parties, a surcharge of $100 shall be assessed against the defendant. All moneys received from surcharges shall be distributed in the following order of priority:

(1) $25 shall be forwarded to the Commonwealth and shall be appropriated to the Pennsylvania State Police to establish and maintain the Statewide registry of protection orders provided for in section 6105.

(2) $50 shall be retained by the county and shall be used to carry out the provisions of this chapter as follows:

(i) $25 shall be used by the sheriff.

(ii) $25 shall be used by the court.

(3) $25 shall be forwarded to the Department of Public Welfare1 for use for victims of domestic violence in accordance with the provisions of section 2333 of the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L. 177, No. 175),2 known as The Administrative Code of 1929.

(d.1) Limitation.–The surcharge allocated under subsection (d)(1) and (3) shall be used to supplement and not to supplant any other source of funds received for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this chapter.

(e) Court to adopt means of service.–The court shall adopt a means of prompt and effective service in those instances where the plaintiff avers that service cannot be safely effected by an adult individual other than a law enforcement officer or where the court so orders.

(f) Service by sheriff.– If the court so orders, the sheriff or other designated agency or individual shall serve the petition and order.

(g) Service of petition and orders.–The petition and orders shall be served upon the defendant, and orders shall be served upon the police departments and sheriff with appropriate jurisdiction to enforce the orders. Orders shall be promptly served on the police and sheriff. Failure to serve shall not stay the effect of a valid order.

(g.1) Service of original process of a foreign protection order.–No plaintiff or petitioner shall be charged any costs or fees associated with the service of original process of a foreign protection order. Costs or fees associated with the service of original process of a foreign protection order may be assessed against the defendant.

(h) Assistance and advice to plaintiff.–The courts and hearing officers shall:

(1) Provide simplified forms and clerical assistance in English and Spanish to help with the writing and filing of the petition for a protection order for an individual not represented by counsel.(2) Provide the plaintiff with written and oral referrals, in English and Spanish, to the local domestic violence program, to the local legal services office and to the county bar association’s lawyer referral service.