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Statutes: Pennsylvania

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

The statutes listed below are current through the 2017 Regular Session Act 2. Please check to make sure there have been no changes since this time. You can see additional statutes on the Pennsylvania Legislative website.

Title 18. Crimes and Offenses

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Part I. Preliminary Provisions

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Chapter 1. General Provisions

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

106. Classes of offenses

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--An offense defined by this title for which a sentence of death or of imprisonment is authorized constitutes a crime. The classes of crime are:

(1) Murder of the first degree, of the second degree or of the third degree, first degree murder of an unborn child, second degree murder of an unborn child or third degree murder of an unborn child.

(2) Felony of the first degree.

(3) Felony of the second degree.

(4) Felony of the third degree.

(5) Misdemeanor of the first degree.

(6) Misdemeanor of the second degree.

(7) Misdemeanor of the third degree.

(b) Classification of crimes.--

(1) A crime is a murder of the first degree, of the second degree or of the third degree if it is so designated in this title or if a person convicted of criminal homicide may be sentenced in accordance with the provisions of section 1102 (relating to sentence for murder and murder of an unborn child). A crime is first degree murder of an unborn child, second degree murder of an unborn child or third degree murder of an unborn child if it is so designated in this title or if a person convicted of criminal homicide of an unborn child may be sentenced in accordance with the provisions of section 1102.

(2) A crime is a felony of the first degree if it is so designated in this title or if a person convicted thereof may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment, the maximum of which is more than ten years.

(3) A crime is a felony of the second degree if it is so designated in this title or if a person convicted thereof may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment, the maximum of which is not more than ten years.

(4) A crime is a felony of the third degree if it is so designated in this title or if a person convicted thereof may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment, the maximum of which is not more than seven years.

(5) A crime declared to be a felony, without specification of degree, is of the third degree.

(6) A crime is a misdemeanor of the first degree if it is so designated in this title or if a person convicted thereof may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment, the maximum of which is not more than five years.

(7) A crime is a misdemeanor of the second degree if it is so designated in this title or if a person convicted thereof may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment, the maximum of which is not more than two years.

(8) A crime is a misdemeanor of the third degree if it is so designated in this title or if a person convicted thereof may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment, the maximum of which is not more than one year.

(9) A crime declared to be a misdemeanor, without specification of degree, is of the third degree.

(c) Summary offenses.--An offense defined by this title constitutes a summary offense if:

(1) it is so designated in this title, or in a statute other than this title; or

(2) if a person convicted thereof may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment, the maximum of which is not more than 90 days.

(d) Other crimes.--Any offense declared by law to constitute a crime, without specification of the class thereof, is a misdemeanor of the second degree, if the maximum sentence does not make it a felony under this section.

(e) Section applicable to other statutes.--An offense hereafter defined by any statute other than this title shall be classified as provided in this section.

Chapter 11. Authorized Disposition of Offenders

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

1101. Fines

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

A person who has been convicted of an offense may be sentenced to pay a fine not exceeding:

(1) $50,000, when the conviction is of murder or attempted murder.

(2) $25,000, when the conviction is of a felony of the first or second degree.

(3) $15,000, when the conviction is of a felony of the third degree.

(4) $10,000, when the conviction is of a misdemeanor of the first degree.

(5) $5,000, when the conviction is of a misdemeanor of the second degree.

(6) $2,500, when the conviction is of a misdemeanor of the third degree.

(7) $300, when the conviction is of a summary offense for which no higher fine is established.

(8) Any higher amount equal to double the pecuniary gain derived from the offense by the offender.

(9) Any higher or lower amount specifically authorized by statute.

1103. Sentence of imprisonment for felony

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Except as provided in 42 Pa.C.S. § 9714 (relating to sentences for second and subsequent offenses), a person who has been convicted of a felony may be sentenced to imprisonment as follows:

(1) In the case of a felony of the first degree, for a term which shall be fixed by the court at not more than 20 years.

(2) In the case of a felony of the second degree, for a term which shall be fixed by the court at not more than ten years.

(3) In the case of a felony of the third degree, for a term which shall be fixed by the court at not more than seven years.

1104. Sentence of imprisonment for misdemeanors

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

A person who has been convicted of a misdemeanor may be sentenced to imprisonment for a definite term which shall be fixed by the court and shall be not more than:

(1) Five years in the case of a misdemeanor of the first degree.

(2) Two years in the case of a misdemeanor of the second degree.

(3) One year in the case of a misdemeanor of the third degree.

Part II. Definition of Specific Offenses

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Article B. Offenses Involving Danger to the Person

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Chapter 27. Assault

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

2701. Simple assault

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Offense defined.-- Except as provided under section 2702 (relating to aggravated assault), a person is guilty of assault if he:

(1) attempts to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another;

(2) negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon;

(3) attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury; or

(4) conceals or attempts to conceal a hypodermic needle on his person and intentionally or knowingly penetrates a law enforcement officer or an officer or an employee of a correctional institution, county jail or prison, detention facility or mental hospital during the course of an arrest or any search of the person.

(b) Grading.--Simple assault is a misdemeanor of the second degree unless committed:

(1) in a fight or scuffle entered into by mutual consent, in which case it is a misdemeanor of the third degree; or

(2) against a child under 12 years of age by a person 18 years of age or older, in which case it is a misdemeanor of the first degree.

2702. Aggravated assault

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Offense defined.--A person is guilty of aggravated assault if he:

(1) attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another, or causes such injury intentionally, knowingly or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life;

(2) attempts to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes serious bodily injury to any of the officers, agents, employees or other persons enumerated in subsection (c) or to an employee of an agency, company or other entity engaged in public transportation, while in the performance of duty;

(3) attempts to cause or intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury to any of the officers, agents, employees or other persons enumerated in subsection (c), in the performance of duty;

(4) attempts to cause or intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon;

(5) attempts to cause or intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury to a teaching staff member, school board member or other employee, including a student employee, of any elementary or secondary publicly-funded educational institution, any elementary or secondary private school licensed by the Department of Education or any elementary or secondary parochial school while acting in the scope of his or her employment or because of his or her employment relationship to the school;

(6) attempts by physical menace to put any of the officers, agents, employees or other persons enumerated in subsection (c), while in the performance of duty, in fear of imminent serious bodily injury;

(7) uses tear or noxious gas as defined in section 2708(b) (relating to use of tear or noxious gas in labor disputes) or uses an electric or electronic incapacitation device against any officer, employee or other person enumerated in subsection (c) while acting in the scope of his employment;

(8) attempts to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to a child less than six years of age, by a person 18 years of age or older; or

(9) attempts to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes serious bodily injury to a child less than 13 years of age, by a person 18 years of age or older.

(b) Grading.--Aggravated assault under subsection (a)(1), (2) and (9) is a felony of the first degree. Aggravated assault under subsection (a)(3), (4), (5), (6), (7) and (8) is a felony of the second degree.

(c) Officers, employees, etc., enumerated.--The officers, agents, employees and other persons referred to in subsection (a) shall be as follows:

(1) Police officer.

(2) Firefighter.

(3) County adult probation or parole officer.

(4) County juvenile probation or parole officer.

(5) An agent of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole.

(6) Sheriff.

(7) Deputy sheriff.

(8) Liquor control enforcement agent.

(9) Officer or employee of a correctional institution, county jail or prison, juvenile detention center or any other facility to which the person has been ordered by the court pursuant to a petition alleging delinquency under 42 Pa.C.S. Ch. 63 (relating to juvenile matters).

(10) Judge of any court in the unified judicial system.

(11) The Attorney General.

(12) A deputy attorney general.

(13) A district attorney.

(14) An assistant district attorney.

(15) A public defender.

(16) An assistant public defender.

(17) A Federal law enforcement official.

(18) A State law enforcement official.

(19) A local law enforcement official.

(20) Any person employed to assist or who assists any Federal, State or local law enforcement official.

(21) Emergency medical services personnel.

(22) Parking enforcement officer.

(23) A magisterial district judge.

(24) A constable.

(25) A deputy constable.

(26) A psychiatric aide.

(27) A teaching staff member, a school board member or other employee, including a student employee, of any elementary or secondary publicly funded educational institution, any elementary or secondary private school licensed by the Department of Education or any elementary or secondary parochial school while acting in the scope of his or her employment or because of his or her employment relationship to the school.

(28) Governor.

(29) Lieutenant Governor.

(30) Auditor General.

(31) State Treasurer.

(32) Member of the General Assembly.

(33) An employee of the Department of Environmental Protection.

(34) An individual engaged in the private detective business as defined in section 2(a) and (b) of the act of August 21, 1953 (P.L. 1273, No. 361), [FN1] known as The Private Detective Act of 1953.

(35) An employee or agent of a county children and youth social service agency or of the legal representative of such agency.

(36) A public utility employee or an employee of an electric cooperative.

(37) A wildlife conservation officer or deputy wildlife conservation officer of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

(38) A waterways conservation officer or deputy waterways conservation officer of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

(d) Definitions.--As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:

“Electric or electronic incapacitation device.” A portable device which is designed or intended by the manufacturer to be used, offensively or defensively, to temporarily immobilize or incapacitate persons by means of electric pulse or current, including devices operated by means of carbon dioxide propellant. The term does not include cattle prods, electric fences or other electric devices when used in agricultural, animal husbandry or food production activities.

“Emergency medical services personnel.” The term includes, but is not limited to, doctors, residents, interns, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, nurse aides, ambulance attendants and operators, paramedics, emergency medical technicians and members of a hospital security force while working within the scope of their employment.

2705. Recklessly endangering another person

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

A person commits a misdemeanor of the second degree if he recklessly engages in conduct which places or may place another person in danger of death or serious bodily injury.


2709. Harassment

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Offense defined.--A person commits the crime of harassment when, with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another, the person:

(1) strikes, shoves, kicks or otherwise subjects the other person to physical contact, or attempts or threatens to do the same;

(2) follows the other person in or about a public place or places;

(3) engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts which serve no legitimate purpose;

(4) communicates to or about such other person any lewd, lascivious, threatening or obscene words, language, drawings or caricatures;

(5) communicates repeatedly in an anonymous manner;

(6) communicates repeatedly at extremely inconvenient hours; or

(7) communicates repeatedly in a manner other than specified in paragraphs (4), (5) and (6).

(a.1) Cyber harassment of a child.--

(1) A person commits the crime of cyber harassment of a child if, with intent to harass, annoy or alarm, the person engages in a continuing course of conduct of making any of the following by electronic means directly to a child or by publication through an electronic social media service:

(i) seriously disparaging statement or opinion about the child's physical characteristics, sexuality, sexual activity or mental or physical health or condition; or

(ii) threat to inflict harm.

(2)(i) If a juvenile is charged with a violation of paragraph (1), the judicial authority with jurisdiction over the violation shall give first consideration to referring the juvenile charged with the violation to a diversionary program under Pa.R.J.C.P. No. 312(relating to Informal Adjustment) or No. 370 (relating to Consent Decree). As part of the diversionary program, the judicial authority may order the juvenile to participate in an educational program which includes the legal and nonlegal consequences of cyber harassment.

(ii) If the person successfully completes the diversionary program, the juvenile's records of the charge of violating paragraph (1) shall be expunged as provided for under section 9123 (relating to juvenile records).

(b) Deleted by 2002, Dec. 9, P.L. 1759, No. 218, § 1, effective in 60 days.

(b.1) Venue.--

(1) An offense committed under this section may be deemed to have been committed at either the place at which the communication or communications were made or at the place where the communication or communications were received.

(2) Acts indicating a course of conduct which occur in more than one jurisdiction may be used by any other jurisdiction in which an act occurred as evidence of a continuing pattern of conduct or a course of conduct.

(3) In addition to paragraphs (1) and (2), an offense under subsection (a.1) may be deemed to have been committed at the place where the child who is the subject of the communication resides.

(c) Grading.--

(1) Except as provided under paragraph (3), an offense under subsection (a)(1), (2) or (3) shall constitute a summary offense.

(2) An offense under subsection (a)(4), (5), (6) or (7) or (a.1) shall constitute a misdemeanor of the third degree.

(3) The grading of an offense under subsection (a)(1), (2) or (3) shall be enhanced one degree if the person has previously violated an order issued under 23 Pa.C.S. § 6108 (relating to relief) involving the same victim, family or household member.

(d) False reports.--A person who knowingly gives false information to any law enforcement officer with the intent to implicate another under this section commits an offense under section 4906 (relating to false reports to law enforcement authorities).

(e) Application of section.--This section shall not apply to constitutionally protected activity.

(f) Definitions.--As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:

“Communicates.” Conveys a message without intent of legitimate communication or address by oral, nonverbal, written or electronic means, including telephone, electronic mail, Internet, facsimile, telex, wireless communication or similar transmission.

“Course of conduct.” A pattern of actions composed of more than one act over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of conduct. The term includes lewd, lascivious, threatening or obscene words, language, drawings, caricatures or actions, either in person or anonymously. Acts indicating a course of conduct which occur in more than one jurisdiction may be used by any other jurisdiction in which an act occurred as evidence of a continuing pattern of conduct or a course of conduct.

“Emotional distress.” A temporary or permanent state of mental anguish.

“Family or household member.” Spouses or persons who have been spouses, persons living as spouses or who lived as spouses, parents and children, other persons related by consanguinity or affinity, current or former sexual or intimate partners or persons who share biological parenthood.

“Seriously disparaging statement or opinion.” A statement or opinion which is intended to and under the circumstances is reasonably likely to cause substantial emotional distress to a child of the victim's age and which produces some physical manifestation of the distress.

2709.1. Stalking

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Offense defined.--A person commits the crime of stalking when the person either:

(1) engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts toward another person, including following the person without proper authority, under circumstances which demonstrate either an intent to place such other person in reasonable fear of bodily injury or to cause substantial emotional distress to such other person; or

(2) engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly communicates to another person under circumstances which demonstrate or communicate either an intent to place such other person in reasonable fear of bodily injury or to cause substantial emotional distress to such other person.

(b) Venue.--

(1) An offense committed under this section may be deemed to have been committed at either the place at which the communication or communications were made or at the place where the communication or communications were received.

(2) Acts indicating a course of conduct which occur in more than one jurisdiction may be used by any other jurisdiction in which an act occurred as evidence of a continuing pattern of conduct or a course of conduct.

(c) Grading.--

(1) Except as otherwise provided for in paragraph (2), a first offense under this section shall constitute a misdemeanor of the first degree.

(2) A second or subsequent offense under this section or a first offense under subsection (a) if the person has been previously convicted of a crime of violence involving the same victim, family or household member, including, but not limited to, a violation of section 2701 (relating to simple assault), 2702 (relating to aggravated assault), 2705 (relating to recklessly endangering another person), 2901 (relating to kidnapping), 3121 (relating to rape) or 3123 (relating to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse), an order issued under section 4954 (relating to protective orders) or an order issued under 23 Pa.C.S. § 6108 (relating to relief) shall constitute a felony of the third degree.

(d) False reports.--A person who knowingly gives false information to any law enforcement officer with the intent to implicate another under this section commits an offense under section 4906 (relating to false reports to law enforcement authorities).

(e) Application of section.--This section shall not apply to constitutionally protected activity.

(f) Definitions.--As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:

“Communicates.” To convey a message without intent of legitimate communication or address by oral, nonverbal, written or electronic means, including telephone, electronic mail, Internet, facsimile, telex, wireless communication or similar transmission.

“Course of conduct.” A pattern of actions composed of more than one act over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of conduct. The term includes lewd, lascivious, threatening or obscene words, language, drawings, caricatures or actions, either in person or anonymously. Acts indicating a course of conduct which occur in more than one jurisdiction may be used by any other jurisdiction in which an act occurred as evidence of a continuing pattern of conduct or a course of conduct.

“Emotional distress.” A temporary or permanent state of mental anguish.

“Family or household member.” Spouses or persons who have been spouses, persons living as spouses or who lived as spouses, parents and children, other persons related by consanguinity or affinity, current or former sexual or intimate partners or persons who share biological parenthood.

Chapter 29. Kidnapping

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

2901. Kidnapping

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Offense defined.-- Except as provided in subsection (a.1), a person is guilty of kidnapping if he unlawfully removes another a substantial distance under the circumstances from the place where he is found, or if he unlawfully confines another for a substantial period in a place of isolation, with any of the following intentions:

(1) To hold for ransom or reward, or as a shield or hostage.

(2) To facilitate commission of any felony or flight thereafter.

(3) To inflict bodily injury on or to terrorize the victim or another.

(4) To interfere with the performance by public officials of any governmental or political function.

(a.1) Kidnapping of a minor.--A person is guilty of kidnapping of a minor if he unlawfully removes a person under 18 years of age a substantial distance under the circumstances from the place where he is found, or if he unlawfully confines a person under 18 years of age for a substantial period in a place of isolation, with any of the following intentions:

(1) To hold for ransom or reward, or as a shield or hostage.

(2) To facilitate commission of any felony or flight thereafter.

(3) To inflict bodily injury on or to terrorize the victim or another.

(4) To interfere with the performance by public officials of any governmental or political function.

(b) Grading.-- The following apply:

(1) Kidnapping under subsection (a) is a felony of the first degree. A removal or confinement is unlawful within the meaning of subsection (a) if it is accomplished by force, threat or deception, or, in the case of an incapacitated person, if it is accomplished without the consent of a parent, guardian or other person responsible for general supervision of his welfare.

(2) Kidnapping under subsection (a.1) is a felony of the first degree. A removal or confinement is unlawful within the meaning of subsection (a.1) if it is accomplished by force, threat or deception, or, in the case of a person under 14 years of age, if it is accomplished without consent of a parent, guardian or other person responsible for general supervision of his welfare.

2902. Unlawful restraint

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Offense defined.-- Except as provided under subsection (b) or (c), a person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree if he knowingly:

(1) restrains another unlawfully in circumstances exposing him to risk of serious bodily injury; or

(2) holds another in a condition of involuntary servitude.

(b) Unlawful restraint of a minor where offender is not victim's parent.--If the victim is a person under 18 years of age, a person who is not the victim's parent commits a felony of the second degree if he knowingly:

(1) restrains another unlawfully in circumstances exposing him to risk of serious bodily injury; or

(2) holds another in a condition of involuntary servitude.

(c) Unlawful restraint of minor where offender is victim's parent.--If the victim is a person under 18 years of age, a parent of the victim commits a felony of the second degree if he knowingly:

(1) restrains another unlawfully in circumstances exposing him to risk of serious bodily injury; or

(2) holds another in a condition of involuntary servitude.

(d) Definition.--As used in this section the term “parent” means a natural parent, stepparent, adoptive parent or guardian of a minor.

2903. False imprisonment

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Offense defined.--Except as provided under subsection (b) or (c), a person commits a misdemeanor of the second degree if he knowingly restrains another unlawfully so as to interfere substantially with his liberty.

(b) false imprisonment of a minor where offender is not victim's parent.--If the victim is a person under 18 years of age, a person who is not the victim's parent commits a felony of the second degree if he knowingly restrains another unlawfully so as to interfere substantially with his liberty.

(c) False imprisonment of a minor where offender is victim's parent.--If the victim is a person under 18 years of age, a parent of the victim commits a felony of the second degree if he knowingly restrains another unlawfully so as to interfere substantially with his liberty.

(d) Definition.--As used in this section the term “parent” means a natural parent, stepparent, adoptive parent or guardian of a minor.

2904. Interference with custody of children

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Offense defined.--A person commits an offense if he knowingly or recklessly takes or entices any child under the age of 18 years from the custody of its parent, guardian or other lawful custodian, when he has no privilege to do so.

(b) Defenses.--It is a defense that:

(1) the actor believed that his action was necessary to preserve the child from danger to its welfare; or

(2) the child, being at the time not less than 14 years old, was taken away at its own instigation without enticement and without purpose to commit a criminal offense with or against the child; or

(3) the actor is the child's parent or guardian or other lawful custodian and is not acting contrary to an order entered by a court of competent jurisdiction.

(c) Grading.--The offense is a felony of the third degree unless:

(1) the actor, not being a parent or person in equivalent relation to the child, acted with knowledge that his conduct would cause serious alarm for the safety of the child, or in reckless disregard of a likelihood of causing such alarm. In such cases, the offense shall be a felony of the second degree; or

(2) the actor acted with good cause for a period of time not in excess of 24 hours; and

(i) the victim child is the subject of a valid order of custody issued by a court of this Commonwealth;

(ii) the actor has been given either partial custody or visitation rights under said order; and

(iii) the actor is a resident of this Commonwealth and does not remove the child from the Commonwealth.

In such cases, the offense shall be a misdemeanor of the second degree.

Chapter 31. Sexual Offenses

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Subchapter A. General Provisions

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

3101. Definitions

Updated: 
May 25, 2017
Subject to additional definitions contained in subsequent provisions of this chapter which are applicable to specific provisions of this chapter, the following words and phrases when used in this chapter shall have, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, the meanings given to them in this section:
“Complainant.” An alleged victim of a crime under this chapter.
“Deviate sexual intercourse.” Sexual intercourse per os or per anus between human beings and any form of sexual intercourse with an animal. The term also includes penetration, however slight, of the genitals or anus of another person with a foreign object for any purpose other than good faith medical, hygienic or law enforcement procedures.
“Forcible compulsion.” Compulsion by use of physical, intellectual, moral, emotional or psychological force, either express or implied. The term includes, but is not limited to, compulsion resulting in another person's death, whether the death occurred before, during or after sexual intercourse.
“Foreign object.” Includes any physical object not a part of the actor's body.
“Indecent contact.” Any touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of the person for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire, in any person.
“Serious bodily injury.” As defined in section 2301 (relating to definitions).
“Sexual intercourse.” In addition to its ordinary meaning, includes intercourse per os or per anus, with some penetration however slight; emission is not required.Subject to additional definitions contained in subsequent provisions of this chapter which are applicable to specific provisions of this chapter, the following words and phrases when used in this chapter shall have, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, the meanings given to them in this section:

“Complainant.” An alleged victim of a crime under this chapter.

“Deviate sexual intercourse.” Sexual intercourse per os or per anus between human beings and any form of sexual intercourse with an animal. The term also includes penetration, however slight, of the genitals or anus of another person with a foreign object for any purpose other than good faith medical, hygienic or law enforcement procedures.

“Forcible compulsion.” Compulsion by use of physical, intellectual, moral, emotional or psychological force, either express or implied. The term includes, but is not limited to, compulsion resulting in another person's death, whether the death occurred before, during or after sexual intercourse.

“Foreign object.” Includes any physical object not a part of the actor's body.

“Indecent contact.” Any touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of the person for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire, in any person.

“Serious bodily injury.” As defined in section 2301 (relating to definitions).

“Sexual intercourse.” In addition to its ordinary meaning, includes intercourse per os or per anus, with some penetration however slight; emission is not required.

Subchapter B. Definitions of Offenses

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

3121. Rape

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Offense defined.--A person commits a felony of the first degree when the person engages in sexual intercourse with a complainant:

(1) By forcible compulsion.

(2) By threat of forcible compulsion that would prevent resistance by a person of reasonable resolution.

(3) Who is unconscious or where the person knows that the complainant is unaware that the sexual intercourse is occurring.

(4) Where the person has substantially impaired the complainant's power to appraise or control his or her conduct by administering or employing, without the knowledge of the complainant, drugs, intoxicants or other means for the purpose of preventing resistance.

(5) Who suffers from a mental disability which renders the complainant incapable of consent.

(6) Deleted by 2002, Dec. 9, P.L. 1350, No. 162, § 2, effective in 60 days.

(b) Additional penalties.--In addition to the penalty provided for by subsection (a), a person may be sentenced to an additional term not to exceed ten years' confinement and an additional amount not to exceed $100,000 where the person engages in sexual intercourse with a complainant and has substantially impaired the complainant's power to appraise or control his or her conduct by administering or employing, without the knowledge of the complainant, any substance for the purpose of preventing resistance through the inducement of euphoria, memory loss and any other effect of this substance.

(c) Rape of a child.--A person commits the offense of rape of a child, a felony of the first degree, when the person engages in sexual intercourse with a complainant who is less than 13 years of age.

(d) Rape of a child with serious bodily injury.--A person commits the offense of rape of a child resulting in serious bodily injury, a felony of the first degree, when the person violates this section and the complainant is under 13 years of age and suffers serious bodily injury in the course of the offense.

(e) Sentences.--Notwithstanding the provisions of section 1103 (relating to sentence of imprisonment for felony), a person convicted of an offense under:

(1) Subsection (c) shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment which shall be fixed by the court at not more than 40 years.

(2) Subsection (d) shall be sentenced up to a maximum term of life imprisonment.

3122.1. Statutory sexual assault

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Felony of the second degree.--Except as provided in section 3121 (relating to rape), a person commits a felony of the second degree when that person engages in sexual intercourse with a complainant to whom the person is not married who is under the age of 16 years and that person is either:

(1) four years older but less than eight years older than the complainant; or

(2) eight years older but less than 11 years older than the complainant.

(b) Felony of the first degree.--A person commits a felony of the first degree when that person engages in sexual intercourse with a complainant under the age of 16 years and that person is 11 or more years older than the complainant and the complainant and the person are not married to each other.

3123. Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Offense defined.--A person commits a felony of the first degree when the person engages in deviate sexual intercourse with a complainant:

(1) by forcible compulsion;

(2) by threat of forcible compulsion that would prevent resistance by a person of reasonable resolution;

(3) who is unconscious or where the person knows that the complainant is unaware that the sexual intercourse is occurring;

(4) where the person has substantially impaired the complainant's power to appraise or control his or her conduct by administering or employing, without the knowledge of the complainant, drugs, intoxicants or other means for the purpose of preventing resistance;

(5) who suffers from a mental disability which renders him or her incapable of consent; or

(6) Deleted by 2002, Dec. 9, P.L. 1350, No. 162, § 2, effective in 60 days.

(7) who is less than 16 years of age and the person is four or more years older than the complainant and the complainant and person are not married to each other.

(b) Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child.--A person commits involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, a felony of the first degree, when the person engages in deviate sexual intercourse with a complainant who is less than 13 years of age.

(c) Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child with serious bodily injury.--A person commits an offense under this section with a child resulting in serious bodily injury, a felony of the first degree, when the person violates this section and the complainant is less than 13 years of age and the complainant suffers serious bodily injury in the course of the offense.

(d) Sentences.--Notwithstanding the provisions of section 1103 (relating to sentence of imprisonment for felony), a person convicted of an offense under:

(1) Subsection (b) shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment which shall be fixed by the court at not more than 40 years.

(2) Subsection (c) shall be sentenced up to a maximum term of life imprisonment.

(e) Definition.--As used in this section, the term “forcible compulsion” includes, but is not limited to, compulsion resulting in another person's death, whether the death occurred before, during or after the sexual intercourse.

3124.2. Institutional sexual assault

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--Except as provided under subsection (a.1) and in sections 3121 (relating to rape), 3122.1 (relating to statutory sexual assault), 3123 (relating to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse), 3124.1 (relating to sexual assault) and 3125 (relating to aggravated indecent assault), a person who is an employee or agent of the Department of Corrections or a county correctional authority, youth development center, youth forestry camp, State or county juvenile detention facility, other licensed residential facility serving children and youth, or mental health or mental retardation facility or institution commits a felony of the third degree when that person engages in sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse or indecent contact with an inmate, detainee, patient or resident.

(a.1) Institutional sexual assault of a minor.--A person who is an employee or agent of the Department of Corrections or a county correctional authority, youth development center, youth forestry camp, State or county juvenile detention facility, other licensed residential facility serving children and youth or mental health or mental retardation facility or institution commits a felony of the third degree when that person engages in sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse or indecent contact with an inmate, detainee, patient or resident who is under 18 years of age.

(a.2) Schools.--

(1) Except as provided in sections 3121, 3122.1, 3123, 3124.1 and 3125, a person who is a volunteer or an employee of a school or any other person who has direct contact with a student at a school commits a felony of the third degree when he engages in sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse or indecent contact with a student of the school.

(2) As used in this subsection, the following terms shall have the meanings given to them in this paragraph:

(i) “Direct contact.” Care, supervision, guidance or control.

(ii) “Employee.”

(A) Includes:

(I) A teacher, a supervisor, a supervising principal, a principal, an assistant principal, a vice principal, a director of vocational education, a dental hygienist, a visiting teacher, a home and school visitor, a school counselor, a child nutrition program specialist, a school librarian, a school secretary the selection of whom is on the basis of merit as determined by eligibility lists, a school nurse, a substitute teacher, a janitor, a cafeteria worker, a bus driver, a teacher aide and any other employee who has direct contact with school students.

(II) An independent contractor who has a contract with a school for the purpose of performing a service for the school, a coach, an athletic trainer, a coach hired as an independent contractor by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association or an athletic trainer hired as an independent contractor by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association.

(B) The term does not include:

(I) A student employed at the school.

(II) An independent contractor or any employee of an independent contractor who has no direct contact with school students.

(iii) “School.” A public or private school, intermediate unit or area vocational-technical school.

(iv) “Volunteer.” The term does not include a school student.

(a.3) Child care.--Except as provided in sections 3121, 3122.1, 3123, 3124.1 and 3125, a person who is a volunteer or an employee of a center for children commits a felony of the third degree when he engages in sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse or indecent contact with a child who is receiving services at the center.

(b) Definitions.--As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

“Agent.” A person who is assigned to work in a State or county correctional or juvenile detention facility, a youth development center, youth forestry camp, other licensed residential facility serving children and youth or mental health or mental retardation facility or institution, who is employed by any State or county agency or any person employed by an entity providing contract services to the agency.

“Center for children.” Includes a child day-care center, group and family day-care home, boarding home for children, a center providing early intervention and drug and alcohol services for children or other facility which provides child-care services which are subject to approval, licensure, registration or certification by the Department of Public Welfare1 or a county social services agency or which are provided pursuant to a contract with the department or a county social services agency. The term does not include a youth development center, youth forestry camp, State or county juvenile detention facility and other licensed residential facility serving children and youth.

3124.1. Sexual assault

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Except as provided in section 3121 (relating to rape) or 3123 (relating to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse), a person commits a felony of the second degree when that person engages in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with a complainant without the complainant's consent.

3125. Aggravated indecent assault

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Offenses defined.--Except as provided in sections 3121 (relating to rape), 3122.1 (relating to statutory sexual assault), 3123 (relating to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse) and 3124.1 (relating to sexual assault), a person who engages in penetration, however slight, of the genitals or anus of a complainant with a part of the person's body for any purpose other than good faith medical, hygienic or law enforcement procedures commits aggravated indecent assault if:

(1) the person does so without the complainant's consent;

(2) the person does so by forcible compulsion;

(3) the person does so by threat of forcible compulsion that would prevent resistance by a person of reasonable resolution;

(4) the complainant is unconscious or the person knows that the complainant is unaware that the penetration is occurring;

(5) the person has substantially impaired the complainant's power to appraise or control his or her conduct by administering or employing, without the knowledge of the complainant, drugs, intoxicants or other means for the purpose of preventing resistance;

(6) the complainant suffers from a mental disability which renders him or her incapable of consent;

(7) the complainant is less than 13 years of age; or

(8) the complainant is less than 16 years of age and the person is four or more years older than the complainant and the complainant and the person are not married to each other.

(b) Aggravated indecent assault of a child.--A person commits aggravated indecent assault of a child when the person violates subsection (a)(1), (2), (3), (4), (5) or (6) and the complainant is less than 13 years of age.

(c) Grading and sentences.--

(1) An offense under subsection (a) is a felony of the second degree.

(2) An offense under subsection (b) is a felony of the first degree.

3126. Indecent assault

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Offense defined.--A person is guilty of indecent assault if the person has indecent contact with the complainant, causes the complainant to have indecent contact with the person or intentionally causes the complainant to come into contact with seminal fluid, urine or feces for the purpose of arousing sexual desire in the person or the complainant and:

(1) the person does so without the complainant's consent;

(2) the person does so by forcible compulsion;

(3) the person does so by threat of forcible compulsion that would prevent resistance by a person of reasonable resolution;

(4) the complainant is unconscious or the person knows that the complainant is unaware that the indecent contact is occurring;

(5) the person has substantially impaired the complainant's power to appraise or control his or her conduct by administering or employing, without the knowledge of the complainant, drugs, intoxicants or other means for the purpose of preventing resistance;

(6) the complainant suffers from a mental disability which renders the complainant incapable of consent;

(7) the complainant is less than 13 years of age; or

(8) the complainant is less than 16 years of age and the person is four or more years older than the complainant and the complainant and the person are not married to each other.

(b) Grading.--Indecent assault shall be graded as follows:

(1) An offense under subsection (a)(1) or (8) is a misdemeanor of the second degree.

(2) An offense under subsection (a)(2), (3), (4), (5) or (6) is a misdemeanor of the first degree.

(3) An offense under subsection (a)(7) is a misdemeanor of the first degree unless any of the following apply, in which case it is a felony of the third degree:

(i) It is a second or subsequent offense.

(ii) There has been a course of conduct of indecent assault by the person.

(iii) The indecent assault was committed by touching the complainant's sexual or intimate parts with sexual or intimate parts of the person.

(iv) The indecent assault is committed by touching the person's sexual or intimate parts with the complainant's sexual or intimate parts.

3127. Indecent exposure

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Offense defined.--A person commits indecent exposure if that person exposes his or her genitals in any public place or in any place where there are present other persons under circumstances in which he or she knows or should know that this conduct is likely to offend, affront or alarm.

(b) Grading.--If the person knows or should have known that any of the persons present are less than 16 years of age, indecent exposure under subsection (a) is a misdemeanor of the first degree. Otherwise, indecent exposure under subsection (a) is a misdemeanor of the second degree.

3131. Unlawful dissemination of intimate image

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Offense defined.--Except as provided in sections 5903 (relating to obscene and other sexual materials and performances), 6312 (relating to sexual abuse of children) and 6321 (relating to transmission of sexually explicit images by minor), a person commits the offense of unlawful dissemination of intimate image if, with intent to harass, annoy or alarm a current or former sexual or intimate partner, the person disseminates a visual depiction of the current or former sexual or intimate partner in a state of nudity or engaged in sexual conduct.

(b) Defense.--It is a defense to a prosecution under this section that the actor disseminated the visual depiction with the consent of the person depicted.

(c) Grading.--An offense under subsection (a) shall be:

(1) A misdemeanor of the first degree, when the person depicted is a minor.

(2) A misdemeanor of the second degree, when the person depicted is not a minor.

(d) Territorial applicability.--A person may be convicted under the provisions of this section if the victim or the offender is located within this Commonwealth.

(e) Nonapplicability.--Nothing in this section shall be construed to apply to a law enforcement officer engaged in the performance of the law enforcement officer's official duties.

(f) Concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute.--In addition to the authority conferred upon the Attorney General by the act of October 15, 1980 (P.L. 950, No. 164), known as the Commonwealth Attorneys Act, the Attorney General shall have the authority to investigate and to institute criminal proceedings for any violation of this section or any series of violations involving more than one county of this Commonwealth or another state. No person charged with a violation of this section by the Attorney General shall have standing to challenge the authority of the Attorney General to investigate or prosecute the case, and, if a challenge is made, the challenge shall be dismissed, and no relief shall be made available in the courts of this Commonwealth to the person making the challenge.

(g) Definitions.--As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

“Law enforcement officer.” Any officer of the United States, of the Commonwealth or political subdivision thereof, or of another state or subdivision thereof, who is empowered to conduct investigations of or to make arrests for offenses enumerated in this title or an equivalent crime in another jurisdiction, and any attorney authorized by law to prosecute or participate in the prosecution of such offense.

“Minor.” An individual under 18 years of age.

“Nudity.” As defined in section 5903(e).

“Sexual conduct.” As defined in section 5903(e).

“Visual depiction.” As defined in section 6321.

Article C. Offenses Against Property

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Chapter 35. Burglary and Other Criminal Intrusion

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

3503. Criminal trespass

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Buildings and occupied structures.--

(1) A person commits an offense if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he:

(i) enters, gains entry by subterfuge or surreptitiously remains in any building or occupied structure or separately secured or occupied portion thereof; or

(ii) breaks into any building or occupied structure or separately secured or occupied portion thereof.

(2) An offense under paragraph (1)(i) is a felony of the third degree, and an offense under paragraph (1)(ii) is a felony of the second degree.

(3) As used in this subsection:

“Breaks into.” To gain entry by force, breaking, intimidation, unauthorized opening of locks, or through an opening not designed for human access.

(b) Defiant trespasser.--

(1) A person commits an offense if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he enters or remains in any place as to which notice against trespass is given by:

(i) actual communication to the actor;

(ii) posting in a manner prescribed by law or reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders;

(iii) fencing or other enclosure manifestly designed to exclude intruders;

(iv) notices posted in a manner prescribed by law or reasonably likely to come to the person's attention at each entrance of school grounds that visitors are prohibited without authorization from a designated school, center or program official; or

(v) an actual communication to the actor to leave school grounds as communicated by a school, center or program official, employee or agent or a law enforcement officer.

(2) Except as provided in paragraph (1)(v), an offense under this subsection constitutes a misdemeanor of the third degree if the offender defies an order to leave personally communicated to him by the owner of the premises or other authorized person. An offense under paragraph (1)(v) constitutes a misdemeanor of the first degree. Otherwise it is a summary offense.

(b.1) Simple trespasser.--

(1) A person commits an offense if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he enters or remains in any place for the purpose of:

(i) threatening or terrorizing the owner or occupant of the premises;

(ii) starting or causing to be started any fire upon the premises; or

(iii) defacing or damaging the premises.

(2) An offense under this subsection constitutes a summary offense.

(b.2) Agricultural trespasser.--

(1) A person commits an offense if knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so he:

(i) enters or remains on any agricultural or other open lands when such lands are posted in a manner prescribed by law or reasonably likely to come to the person's attention or are fenced or enclosed in a manner manifestly designed to exclude trespassers or to confine domestic animals; or

(ii) enters or remains on any agricultural or other open lands and defies an order not to enter or to leave that has been personally communicated to him by the owner of the lands or other authorized person.

(2) An offense under this subsection shall be graded as follows:

(i) An offense under paragraph (1)(i) constitutes a misdemeanor of the third degree and is punishable by imprisonment for a term of not more than one year and a fine of not less than $250.

(ii) An offense under paragraph (1)(ii) constitutes a misdemeanor of the second degree and is punishable by imprisonment for a term of not more than two years and a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $5,000.

(3) For the purposes of this subsection, the phrase “agricultural or other open lands” shall mean any land on which agricultural activity or farming as defined in section 3309 (relating to agricultural vandalism) is conducted or any land populated by forest trees of any size and capable of producing timber or other wood products or any other land in an agricultural security area as defined in the act of June 30, 1981 (P.L. 128, No. 43),1 known as the Agricultural Area Security Law, or any area zoned for agricultural use.

(b.3) Agricultural biosecurity area trespasser.--

(1) A person commits an offense if the person does any of the following:

(i) Enters an agricultural biosecurity area, knowing that the person is not licensed or privileged to do so.

(ii) Knowingly or recklessly fails to perform reasonable measures for biosecurity that by posted notice are required to be performed for entry to the agricultural biosecurity area.

(2) It is a defense to prosecution under paragraph (1)(ii) that:

(i) no reasonable means or method was available to perform the measures that the posted notice required to be performed for entry to the agricultural biosecurity area;

(ii) entry is made in response to a condition within the agricultural biosecurity area that the person reasonably believes to be a serious threat to human or animal health as necessitating immediate entry to the agricultural biosecurity area; or

(iii) entry is made under exigent circumstances by a law enforcement officer to:

(A) pursue and apprehend a suspect of criminal conduct reasonably believed by the officer to be present within the agricultural biosecurity area; or

(B) prevent the destruction of evidence of criminal conduct reasonably believed by the officer to be located within the agricultural biosecurity area.

(3)(i) Except as set forth in subparagraph (iii), an offense under paragraph (1)(i) constitutes a misdemeanor of the third degree.

(ii) Except as set forth in subparagraph (iii), an offense under paragraph (1)(ii) constitutes a summary offense.

(iii) If an offense under paragraph (1) causes damage to or death of an animal or plant within an agricultural biosecurity area, the offense constitutes a misdemeanor of the first degree.

(4) For purposes of this subsection, the terms “agricultural biosecurity area” and “posted notice” shall have the meanings given to them in 3 Pa.C.S. § 2303 (relating to definitions).

(c) Defenses.--It is a defense to prosecution under this section that:

(1) a building or occupied structure involved in an offense under subsection (a) of this section was abandoned;

(2) the premises were at the time open to members of the public and the actor complied with all lawful conditions imposed on access to or remaining in the premises; or

(3) the actor reasonably believed that the owner of the premises, or other person empowered to license access thereto, would have licensed him to enter or remain.

(d) Definition.--As used in this section, the term “school grounds” means any building of or grounds of any elementary or secondary publicly funded educational institution, any elementary or secondary private school licensed by the Department of Education, any elementary or secondary parochial school, any certified day-care center or any licensed preschool program.

Chapter 41. Forgery and Fraudulent Practices

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

4120. Identity theft

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Offense defined.--A person commits the offense of identity theft of another person if he possesses or uses, through any means, identifying information of another person without the consent of that other person to further any unlawful purpose.

(b) Separate offenses.--Each time a person possesses or uses identifying information in violation of subsection (a) constitutes a separate offense under this section. However, the total values involved in offenses under this section committed pursuant to one scheme or course of conduct, whether from the same victim or several victims, may be aggregated in determining the grade of the offense.

(c) Grading.--The offenses shall be graded as follows:

(1) Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (2), an offense under subsection (a) falls within the following classifications depending on the value of any property or services obtained by means of the identifying information:

(i) if the total value involved is less than $2,000, the offense is a misdemeanor of the first degree;

(ii) if the total value involved was $2,000 or more, the offense is a felony of the third degree;

(iii) regardless of the total value involved, if the offense is committed in furtherance of a criminal conspiracy as defined in section 903 (relating to criminal conspiracy), the offense is a felony of the third degree; or

(iv) regardless of the total value involved, if the offense is a third or subsequent offense under this section, the offense is a felony of the second degree.

(2) When a person commits an offense under subsection (a) and the victim of the offense is 60 years of age or older, a care-dependent person as defined in section 2713 (relating to neglect of care-dependent person) or an individual under 18 years of age, the grading of the offense shall be one grade higher than specified in paragraph (1).

(d) Concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute.--In addition to the authority conferred upon the Attorney General by the act of October 15, 1980 (P.L. 950, No. 164), known as the Commonwealth Attorneys Act, the Attorney General shall have the authority to investigate and to institute criminal proceedings for any violation of this section or any series of such violations involving more than one county of this Commonwealth or another state. No person charged with a violation of this section by the Attorney General shall have standing to challenge the authority of the Attorney General to investigate or prosecute the case, and if any such challenge is made, the challenge shall be dismissed and no relief shall be made available in the courts of this Commonwealth to the person making the challenge.

(e) Use of police reports.--A report to a law enforcement agency by a person stating that the person's identifying information has been lost or stolen or that the person's identifying information has been used without the person's consent shall be prima facie evidence that the identifying information was possessed or used without the person's consent.

(e.1) Venue.--Any offense committed under subsection (a) may be deemed to have been committed at any of the following:

(1) The place where a person possessed or used the identifying information of another without the other's consent to further any unlawful purpose.

(2) The residence of the person whose identifying information has been lost or stolen or has been used without the person's consent.

(3) The business or employment address of the person whose identifying information has been lost or stolen or has been used without the person's consent, if the identifying information at issue is associated with the person's business or employment.

(f) Definitions.--As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:

“Document.” Any writing, including, but not limited to, birth certificate, Social Security card, driver's license, nondriver government-issued identification card, baptismal certificate, access device card, employee identification card, school identification card or other identifying information recorded by any other method, including, but not limited to, information stored on any computer, computer disc, computer printout, computer system, or part thereof, or by any other mechanical or electronic means.

“Identifying information.” Any document, photographic, pictorial or computer image of another person, or any fact used to establish identity, including, but not limited to, a name, birth date, Social Security number, driver's license number, nondriver governmental identification number, telephone number, checking account number, savings account number, student identification number, employee or payroll number or electronic signature.

Article D. Offenses Against the Family

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Chapter 43. Offenses Against the Family

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Subchapter A. Definition of Offenses Generally

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

4302. Incest

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--Except as provided under subsection (b), a person is guilty of incest, a felony of the second degree, if that person knowingly marries or cohabits or has sexual intercourse with an ancestor or descendant, a brother or sister of the whole or half blood or an uncle, aunt, nephew or niece of the whole blood.

(b) Incest of a minor.--A person is guilty of incest of a minor, a felony of the second degree, if that person knowingly marries, cohabits with or has sexual intercourse with a complainant who is an ancestor or descendant, a brother or sister of the whole or half blood or an uncle, aunt, nephew or niece of the whole blood and:

(1) is under the age of 13 years; or

(2) is 13 to 18 years of age and the person is four or more years older than the complainant.

(c) Relationships.--The relationships referred to in this section include blood relationships without regard to legitimacy, and relationship of parent and child by adoption.

Article G. Miscellaneous Offenses

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Chapter 61. Firearms and Other Dangerous Articles

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

6105. Persons not to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Offense defined.--

(1) A person who has been convicted of an offense enumerated in subsection (b), within or without this Commonwealth, regardless of the length of sentence or whose conduct meets the criteria in subsection (c) shall not possess, use, control, sell, transfer or manufacture or obtain a license to possess, use, control, sell, transfer or manufacture a firearm in this Commonwealth.

(2)(i) A person who is prohibited from possessing, using, controlling, selling, transferring or manufacturing a firearm under paragraph (1) or subsection (b) or (c) shall have a reasonable period of time, not to exceed 60 days from the date of the imposition of the disability under this subsection, in which to sell or transfer that person's firearms to another eligible person who is not a member of the prohibited person's household.

(ii) This paragraph shall not apply to any person whose disability is imposed pursuant to subsection (c)(6).

(a.1) Penalty.--

(1) A person convicted of a felony enumerated under subsection (b) or a felony under the act of April 14, 1972 (P.L. 233, No. 64), [FN1] known as The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, or any equivalent Federal statute or equivalent statute of any other state, who violates subsection (a) commits a felony of the second degree.

(2) A person who is the subject of an active protection from abuse order issued pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. § 6108 (relating to relief), which order provided for the relinquishment of firearms, other weapons or ammunition during the period of time the order is in effect, commits a misdemeanor of the first degree if he intentionally or knowingly fails to relinquish a firearm, other weapon or ammunition to the sheriff as required by the order unless, in lieu of relinquishment, he provides an affidavit which lists the firearms, other weapons or ammunition to the sheriff in accordance with either 23 Pa.C.S. § 6108(a)(7)(i)(B), 6108.2 (relating to relinquishment for consignment sale, lawful transfer or safekeeping) or 6108.3 (relating to relinquishment to third party for safekeeping).

(3)(i) A person commits a misdemeanor of the third degree if he intentionally or knowingly accepts possession of a firearm, other weapon or ammunition from a person he knows is the subject of an active protection from abuse order issued pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. § 6108, which order provided for the relinquishment of the firearm, other weapon or ammunition during the period of time the order is in effect.

(ii) This paragraph shall not apply to:

(A) a third party who accepts possession of a firearm, other weapon or ammunition relinquished pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. § 6108.3; or

(B) a dealer licensed pursuant to section 6113 (relating to licensing of dealers) or subsequent purchaser from a dealer licensed pursuant to section 6113, who accepts possession of a firearm, other weapon or ammunition relinquished pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. § 6108.2.

(4) It shall be an affirmative defense to any prosecution under paragraph (3) that the person accepting possession of a firearm, other weapon or ammunition in violation of paragraph (3):

(i) notified the sheriff as soon as practicable that he has taken possession; and

(ii) relinquished possession of any firearm, other weapon or ammunition possessed in violation of paragraph (3) as directed by the sheriff.

(5) A person who has accepted possession of a firearm, other weapon or ammunition pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. § 6108.3 commits a misdemeanor of the first degree if he intentionally or knowingly returns a firearm, other weapon or ammunition to a defendant or intentionally or knowingly allows a defendant to have access to the firearm, other weapon or ammunition prior to either of the following:

(i) The sheriff accepts return of the safekeeping permit issued to the party pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. § 6108.3(d)(1)(i).

(ii) The issuance of a court order pursuant to subsection (f)(2) or 23 Pa.C.S. § 6108.1(b) (relating to return of relinquished firearms, other weapons and ammunition and additional relief) which modifies a valid protection from abuse order issued pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. § 6108, which order provided for the relinquishment of the firearm, other weapon or ammunition by allowing the defendant to take possession of the firearm, other weapon or ammunition that had previously been ordered relinquished.

(b) Enumerated offenses.--The following offenses shall apply to subsection (a):

Section 908 (relating to prohibited offensive weapons).

Section 911 (relating to corrupt organizations).

Section 912 (relating to possession of weapon on school property).

Section 2502 (relating to murder).

Section 2503 (relating to voluntary manslaughter).

Section 2504 (relating to involuntary manslaughter) if the offense is based on the reckless use of a firearm.

Section 2702 (relating to aggravated assault).

Section 2703 (relating to assault by prisoner).

Section 2704 (relating to assault by life prisoner).

Section 2709.1 (relating to stalking).

Section 2716 (relating to weapons of mass destruction).

Section 2901 (relating to kidnapping).

Section 2902 (relating to unlawful restraint).

Section 2910 (relating to luring a child into a motor vehicle or structure).

Section 3121 (relating to rape).

Section 3123 (relating to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse).

Section 3125 (relating to aggravated indecent assault).

Section 3301 (relating to arson and related offenses).

Section 3302 (relating to causing or risking catastrophe).

Section 3502 (relating to burglary).

Section 3503 (relating to criminal trespass) if the offense is graded a felony of the second degree or higher.

Section 3701 (relating to robbery).

Section 3702 (relating to robbery of motor vehicle).

Section 3921 (relating to theft by unlawful taking or disposition) upon conviction of the second felony offense.

Section 3923 (relating to theft by extortion) when the offense is accompanied by threats of violence.

Section 3925 (relating to receiving stolen property) upon conviction of the second felony offense.

Section 4906 (relating to false reports to law enforcement authorities) if the fictitious report involved the theft of a firearm as provided in section 4906(c)(2).

Section 4912 (relating to impersonating a public servant) if the person is impersonating a law enforcement officer.

Section 4952 (relating to intimidation of witnesses or victims).

Section 4953 (relating to retaliation against witness , victim or party).

Section 5121 (relating to escape).

Section 5122 (relating to weapons or implements for escape).

Section 5501(3) (relating to riot).

Section 5515 (relating to prohibiting of paramilitary training).

Section 5516 (relating to facsimile weapons of mass destruction).

Section 6110.1 (relating to possession of firearm by minor).

Section 6301 (relating to corruption of minors).

Section 6302 (relating to sale or lease of weapons and explosives).

Any offense equivalent to any of the above-enumerated offenses under the prior laws of this Commonwealth or any offense equivalent to any of the above-enumerated offenses under the statutes of any other state or of the United States.

(c) Other persons.--In addition to any person who has been convicted of any offense listed under subsection (b), the following persons shall be subject to the prohibition of subsection (a):

(1) A person who is a fugitive from justice. This paragraph does not apply to an individual whose fugitive status is based upon a nonmoving or moving summary offense under Title 75 (relating to vehicles).

(2) A person who has been convicted of an offense under the act of April 14, 1972 (P.L. 233, No. 64), known as The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, or any equivalent Federal statute or equivalent statute of any other state, that may be punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding two years.

(3) A person who has been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substance as provided in 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802 (relating to driving under influence of alcohol or controlled substance) or the former 75 Pa.C.S. § 3731, on three or more separate occasions within a five-year period. For the purposes of this paragraph only, the prohibition of subsection (a) shall only apply to transfers or purchases of firearms after the third conviction

(4) A person who has been adjudicated as an incompetent or who has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution for inpatient care and treatment under section 302, 303 or 304 of the provisions of the act of July 9, 1976 (P.L. 817, No. 143), [FN2] known as the Mental Health Procedures Act. This paragraph shall not apply to any proceeding under section 302 of the Mental Health Procedures Act unless the examining physician has issued a certification that inpatient care was necessary or that the person was committable.

(5) A person who, being an alien, is illegally or unlawfully in the United States.

(6) A person who is the subject of an active protection from abuse order issued pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. § 6108, which order provided for the relinquishment of firearms during the period of time the order is in effect. This prohibition shall terminate upon the expiration or vacation of an active protection from abuse order or portion thereof relating to the relinquishment of firearms.

(7) A person who was adjudicated delinquent by a court pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S. § 6341 (relating to adjudication) or under any equivalent Federal statute or statute of any other state as a result of conduct which if committed by an adult would constitute an offense under sections 2502, 2503, 2702, 2703 (relating to assault by prisoner), 2704, 2901, 3121, 3123, 3301, 3502, 3701 and 3923.

(8) A person who was adjudicated delinquent by a court pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S. § 6341 or under any equivalent Federal statute or statute of any other state as a result of conduct which if committed by an adult would constitute an offense enumerated in subsection (b) with the exception of those crimes set forth in paragraph (7). This prohibition shall terminate 15 years after the last applicable delinquent adjudication or upon the person reaching the age of 30, whichever is earlier.

(9) A person who is prohibited from possessing or acquiring a firearm under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9) (relating to unlawful acts). If the offense which resulted in the prohibition under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9) was committed, as provided in 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(33)(A)(ii) (relating to definitions), by a person in any of the following relationships:

(i) the current or former spouse, parent or guardian of the victim;

(ii) a person with whom the victim shares a child in common;

(iii) a person who cohabits with or has cohabited with the victim as a spouse, parent or guardian; or

(iv) a person similarly situated to a spouse, parent or guardian of the victim; then the relationship need not be an element of the offense to meet the requirements of this paragraph.

(d) Exemption.--A person who has been convicted of a crime specified in subsection (a) or (b) or a person whose conduct meets the criteria in subsection (c)(1), (2), (5), (7) or (9) may make application to the court of common pleas of the county where the principal residence of the applicant is situated for relief from the disability imposed by this section upon the possession, transfer or control of a firearm. The court shall grant such relief if it determines that any of the following apply:

(1) The conviction has been vacated under circumstances where all appeals have been exhausted or where the right to appeal has expired.

(2) The conviction has been the subject of a full pardon by the Governor.

(3) Each of the following conditions is met:

(i) The Secretary of the Treasury of the United States has relieved the applicant of an applicable disability imposed by Federal law upon the possession, ownership or control of a firearm as a result of the applicant's prior conviction, except that the court may waive this condition if the court determines that the Congress of the United States has not appropriated sufficient funds to enable the Secretary of the Treasury to grant relief to applicants eligible for the relief.

(ii) A period of ten years, not including any time spent in incarceration, has elapsed since the most recent conviction of the applicant of a crime enumerated in subsection (b), a felony violation of The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act or the offense which resulted in the prohibition under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9).

(e) Proceedings.--

(1) If a person convicted of an offense under subsection (a),(b) or (c) (1), (2), (5), (7) or (9) makes application to the court, a hearing shall be held in open court to determine whether the requirements of this section have been met. The commissioner and the district attorney of the county where the application is filed and any victim or survivor of a victim of the offense upon which the disability is based may be parties to the proceeding.

(2) Upon application to the court of common pleas pursuant to paragraph (1) by an applicant who is subject to the prohibition under subsection (c)(3), the court shall grant such relief if a period of ten years, not including any time spent in incarceration, has passed since the applicant's most recent conviction under subsection (c)(3).

(f) Other exemptions and proceedings.--

(1) Upon application to the court of common pleas under this subsection by an applicant subject to the prohibitions under subsection (c)(4), the court may grant such relief as it deems appropriate if the court determines that the applicant may possess a firearm without risk to the applicant or any other person.

(2) If application is made under this subsection for relief from the disability imposed under subsection (c)(6), notice of such application shall be given to the person who had petitioned for the protection from abuse order, and such person shall be a party to the proceedings. Notice of any court order or amendment to a court order restoring firearms possession or control shall be given to the person who had petitioned for the protection from abuse order, to the sheriff and to the Pennsylvania State Police. The application and any proceedings on the application shall comply with 23 Pa.C.S. Ch. 61 (relating to protection from abuse).

(3) All hearings conducted under this subsection shall be closed unless otherwise requested to be open by the applicant.

(4)(i) The owner of any seized or confiscated firearms or of any firearms ordered relinquished under 23 Pa.C.S. § 6108 shall be provided with a signed and dated written receipt by the appropriate law enforcement agency. This receipt shall include, but not limited to, a detailed identifying description indicating the serial number and condition of the firearm. In addition, the appropriate law enforcement agency shall be liable to the lawful owner of said confiscated, seized or relinquished firearm for any loss, damage or substantial decrease in value of said firearm that is a direct result of a lack of reasonable care by the appropriate law enforcement agency.

(ii) Firearms shall not be engraved or permanently marked in any manner, including, but not limited to, engraving of evidence or other identification numbers. Unless reasonable suspicion exists to believe that a particular firearm has been used in the commission of a crime, no firearm shall be test fired. Any reduction in the value of a firearm due to test firing, engraving or permanently marking in violation of this paragraph shall be considered damage, and the law enforcement agency shall be liable to the lawful owner of the firearm for the reduction in value caused by the test firing, engraving or permanently marking.

(iii) For purposes of this paragraph, the term “firearm” shall include any scope, sight, bipod, sling, light, magazine, clip, ammunition or other firearm accessory attached to or seized, confiscated or relinquished with a firearm.

(g) Other restrictions.--Nothing in this section shall exempt a person from a disability in relation to the possession or control of a firearm which is imposed as a condition of probation or parole or which is imposed pursuant to the provision of any law other than this section.

(h) License prohibition.--Any person who is prohibited from possessing, using, controlling, selling, purchasing, transferring or manufacturing any firearm under this section shall not be eligible for or permitted to obtain a license to carry a firearm under section 6109 (relating to licenses).

(i) Firearm.--As used in this section only, the term “firearm” shall include any weapons which are designed to or may readily be converted to expel any projectile by the action of an explosive or the frame or receiver of any such weapon.

(j) Copy of order to State Police.--If the court grants relief from the disabilities imposed under this section, a copy of the order shall be sent by the prothonotary within ten days of the entry of the order to the Pennsylvania State Police and shall include the name, date of birth and Social Security number of the individual.

Chapter 75. Other Offenses

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

7507.1. Invasion of privacy

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Offense defined.--Except as set forth in subsection (d), a person commits the offense of invasion of privacy if he, for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of any person, knowingly does any of the following:

(1) Views, photographs, videotapes, electronically depicts, films or otherwise records another person without that person's knowledge and consent while that person is in a state of full or partial nudity and is in a place where that person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

(2) Photographs, videotapes, electronically depicts, films or otherwise records or personally views the intimate parts, whether or not covered by clothing, of another person without that person's knowledge and consent and which intimate parts that person does not intend to be visible by normal public observation.

(3) Transfers or transmits an image obtained in violation of paragraph (1) or (2) by live or recorded telephone message, electronic mail or the Internet or by any other transfer of the medium on which the image is stored.

(a.1) Separate violations.--A separate violation of this section shall occur:

(1) for each victim of an offense under subsection (a) under the same or similar circumstances pursuant to one scheme or course of conduct whether at the same or different times; or

(2) if a person is a victim of an offense under subsection (a) on more than one occasion during a separate course of conduct either individually or otherwise.

(b) Grading.--Invasion of privacy is a misdemeanor of the second degree if there is more than one violation. Otherwise, a violation of this section is a misdemeanor of the third degree.

(c) Commencement of prosecution.--Notwithstanding the provisions of 42 Pa.C.S. Ch. 55 Subch. C (relating to criminal proceedings), a prosecution under this section must be commenced within the following periods of limitation:

(1) two years from the date the offense occurred; or

(2) if the victim did not realize at the time that there was an offense, within three years of the time the victim first learns of the offense.

(d) Exceptions.--Subsection (a) shall not apply if the conduct proscribed by subsection (a) is done by any of the following:

(1) Law enforcement officers during a lawful criminal investigation.

(2) Law enforcement officers or by personnel of the Department of Corrections or a local correctional facility, prison or jail for security purposes or during investigation of alleged misconduct by a person in the custody of the department or local authorities.

(e) Definitions.--As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:

“Full or partial nudity.” Display of all or any part of the human genitals or pubic area or buttocks, or any part of the nipple of the breast of any female person, with less than a fully opaque covering.

“Intimate part.” Any part of:

(1) the human genitals, pubic area or buttocks; and

(2) the nipple of a female breast.

“Photographs” or “films.” Making any photograph, motion picture film, videotape or any other recording or transmission of the image of a person.

“Place where a person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy.” A location where a reasonable person would believe that he could disrobe in privacy without being concerned that his undressing was being viewed, photographed or filmed by another.

“Views.” Looking upon another person with the unaided eye or with any device designed or intended to improve visual acuity.

Chapter 76. Computer Offenses

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Subchapter B. Hacking and Similar Offenses

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

7611. Unlawful use of computer and other computer crimes

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Offense defined.--A person commits the offense of unlawful use of a computer if he:

(1) accesses or exceeds authorization to access, alters, damages or destroys any computer, computer system, computer network, computer software, computer program, computer database, World Wide Web site or telecommunication device or any part thereof with the intent to interrupt the normal functioning of a person or to devise or execute any scheme or artifice to defraud or deceive or control property or services by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations or promises;

(2) intentionally and without authorization accesses or exceeds authorization to access, alters, interferes with the operation of, damages or destroys any computer, computer system, computer network, computer software, computer program, computer database, World Wide Web site or telecommunication device or any part thereof; or

(3) intentionally or knowingly and without authorization gives or publishes a password, identifying code, personal identification number or other confidential information about a computer, computer system, computer network, computer database, World Wide Web site or telecommunication device.

(b) Grading.--An offense under this section shall constitute a felony of the third degree.

(c) Prosecution not prohibited.--Prosecution for an offense under this section shall not prohibit prosecution under any other section of this title.

Sexual Offenses

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Title 23. Domestic Relations

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Part IV. Divorce

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Chapter 31. Preliminary Provisions

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

3104. Bases of jurisdiction

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Jurisdiction.--The courts shall have original jurisdiction in cases of divorce and for the annulment of void or voidable marriages and shall determine, in conjunction with any decree granting a divorce or annulment, the following matters, if raised in the pleadings, and issue appropriate decrees or orders with reference thereto, and may retain continuing jurisdiction thereof:

(1) The determination and disposition of property rights and interests between spouses, including any rights created by any antenuptial, postnuptial or separation agreement and including the partition of property held as tenants by the entireties or otherwise and any accounting between them, and the order of any spousal support, alimony, alimony pendente lite, counsel fees or costs authorized by law.

(2) The future care, custody and visitation rights as to children of the marriage or purported marriage.

(3) Any support or assistance which shall be paid for the benefit of any children of the marriage or purported marriage.

(4) Any property settlement involving any of the matters set forth in paragraphs (1), (2) and (3) as submitted by the parties.

(5) Any other matters pertaining to the marriage and divorce or annulment authorized by law and which fairly and expeditiously may be determined and disposed of in such action.

(b) Residence and domicile of parties.--No spouse is entitled to commence an action for divorce or annulment under this part unless at least one of the parties has been a bona fide resident in this Commonwealth for at least six months immediately previous to the commencement of the action. Both parties shall be competent witnesses to prove their respective residence, and proof of actual residence within this Commonwealth for six months shall create a presumption of domicile within this Commonwealth.

(c) Powers of court.--The court has authority to entertain an action under this part notwithstanding the fact that the marriage of the parties and the cause for divorce occurred outside of this Commonwealth and that both parties were at the time of the occurrence domiciled outside this Commonwealth. The court also has the power to annul void or voidable marriages celebrated outside this Commonwealth at a time when neither party was domiciled within this Commonwealth.

(d) Foreign forum.--After the dissolution or annulment of a marriage in a foreign forum where a matter under subsection (a) has not been decided, a court of this Commonwealth shall have jurisdiction to determine a matter under subsection (a) to the fullest extent allowed under the Constitution of the United States.

(e) Venue.--A proceeding for divorce or annulment may be brought in the county:

(1) where the defendant resides;

(2) if the defendant resides outside of this Commonwealth, where the plaintiff resides;

(3) of matrimonial domicile, if the plaintiff has continuously resided in the county;

(4) prior to six months after the date of final separation and with agreement of the defendant, where the plaintiff resides or, if neither party continues to reside in the county of matrimonial domicile, where either party resides; or

(5) after six months after the date of final separation, where either party resides.

Chapter 33. Dissolution of Marital Status

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Subchapter A. General Provisions

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

3301. Grounds for divorce

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Fault.--The court may grant a divorce to the innocent and injured spouse whenever it is judged that the other spouse has:

(1) Committed willful and malicious desertion, and absence from the habitation of the injured and innocent spouse, without a reasonable cause, for the period of one or more years.

(2) Committed adultery.

(3) By cruel and barbarous treatment, endangered the life or health of the injured and innocent spouse.

(4) Knowingly entered into a bigamous marriage while a former marriage is still subsisting.

(5) Been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of two or more years upon conviction of having committed a crime.

(6) Offered such indignities to the innocent and injured spouse as to render that spouse's condition intolerable and life burdensome.

(b) Institutionalization.--The court may grant a divorce from a spouse upon the ground that insanity or serious mental disorder has resulted in confinement in a mental institution for at least 18 months immediately before the commencement of an action under this part and where there is no reasonable prospect that the spouse will be discharged from inpatient care during the 18 months subsequent to the commencement of the action. A presumption that no prospect of discharge exists shall be established by a certificate of the superintendent of the institution to that effect and which includes a supporting statement of a treating physician.

(c) Mutual consent.--

(1) The court may grant a divorce where it is alleged that the marriage is irretrievably broken and 90 days have elapsed from the date of commencement of an action under this part and an affidavit has been filed by each of the parties evidencing that each of the parties consents to the divorce.

(2) The consent of a party shall be presumed where that party has been convicted of committing a personal injury crime against the other party.

<Section 2 of Act 2016, Oct. 4, P.L. 865, No. 102, provides that the amendment of subsec. (d) by that Act shall apply to periods of living separate and apart that commence after Dec. 5, 2016.>

(d) Irretrievable breakdown.--

(1) The court may grant a divorce where a complaint has been filed alleging that the marriage is irretrievably broken and an affidavit has been filed alleging that the parties have lived separate and apart for a period of at least one year and that the marriage is irretrievably broken and the defendant either:

(i) Does not deny the allegations set forth in the affidavit.

(ii) Denies one or more of the allegations set forth in the affidavit but, after notice and hearing, the court determines that the parties have lived separate and apart for a period of at least one year and that the marriage is irretrievably broken.

(2) If a hearing has been held pursuant to paragraph (1)(ii) and the court determines that there is a reasonable prospect of reconciliation, then the court shall continue the matter for a period not less than 90 days nor more than 120 days unless the parties agree to a period in excess of 120 days. During this period, the court shall require counseling as provided in section 3302 (relating to counseling). If the parties have not reconciled at the expiration of the time period and one party states under oath that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court shall determine whether the marriage is irretrievably broken. If the court determines that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court shall grant the divorce. Otherwise, the court shall deny the divorce.

(e) No hearing required in certain cases.--If grounds for divorce alleged in the complaint or counterclaim are established under subsection (c) or (d), the court shall grant a divorce without requiring a hearing on any other grounds.

Chapter 37. Alimony and Support

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

3701. Alimony

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--Where a divorce decree has been entered, the court may allow alimony, as it deems reasonable, to either party only if it finds that alimony is necessary.

(b) Factors relevant.--In determining whether alimony is necessary and in determining the nature, amount, duration and manner of payment of alimony, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including:

(1) The relative earnings and earning capacities of the parties.

(2) The ages and the physical, mental and emotional conditions of the parties.

(3) The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits.

(4) The expectancies and inheritances of the parties.

(5) The duration of the marriage.

(6) The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party.

(7) The extent to which the earning power, expenses or financial obligations of a party will be affected by reason of serving as the custodian of a minor child.

(8) The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage.

(9) The relative education of the parties and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking alimony to find appropriate employment.

(10) The relative assets and liabilities of the parties.

(11) The property brought to the marriage by either party.

(12) The contribution of a spouse as homemaker.

(13) The relative needs of the parties.

(14) The marital misconduct of either of the parties during the marriage. The marital misconduct of either of the parties from the date of final separation shall not be considered by the court in its determinations relative to alimony, except that the court shall consider the abuse of one party by the other party. As used in this paragraph, “abuse” shall have the meaning given to it under section 6102 (relating to definitions).

(15) The Federal, State and local tax ramifications of the alimony award.

(16) Whether the party seeking alimony lacks sufficient property, including, but not limited to, property distributed under Chapter 35 (relating to property rights), to provide for the party's reasonable needs.

(17) Whether the party seeking alimony is incapable of self-support through appropriate employment.

(c) Duration.--The court in ordering alimony shall determine the duration of the order, which may be for a definite or an indefinite period of time which is reasonable under the circumstances.

(d) Statement of reasons.--In an order made under this section, the court shall set forth the reason for its denial or award of alimony and the amount thereof.

(e) Modification and termination.--An order entered pursuant to this section is subject to further order of the court upon changed circumstances of either party of a substantial and continuing nature whereupon the order may be modified, suspended, terminated or reinstituted or a new order made. Any further order shall apply only to payments accruing subsequent to the petition for the requested relief. Remarriage of the party receiving alimony shall terminate the award of alimony.

(f) Status of agreement to pay alimony.--Whenever the court approves an agreement for the payment of alimony voluntarily entered into between the parties, the agreement shall constitute the order of the court and may be enforced as provided in section 3703 (relating to enforcement of arrearages).

Part VI. Children and Minors

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Chapter 51. General Provisions

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

5104. Blood tests to determine paternity

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Short title of section.--This section shall be known and may be cited as the Uniform Act on Blood Tests to Determine Paternity.

(b) Scope of section.--

(1) Civil matters.--This section shall apply to all civil matters.

(2) Criminal proceedings.--This section shall apply to all criminal proceedings subject to the following limitations and provisions:

(i) An order for the tests shall be made only upon application of a party or on the initiative of the court.

(ii) The compensation of the experts shall be paid by the party requesting the blood test or by the county, as the court shall direct.

(iii) The court may direct a verdict of acquittal upon the conclusions of all the experts under subsection (f). Otherwise, the case shall be submitted for determination upon all the evidence.

(iv) The refusal of a defendant to submit to the tests may not be used in evidence against the defendant.

(c) Authority for test.--In any matter subject to this section in which paternity, parentage or identity of a child is a relevant fact, the court, upon its own initiative or upon suggestion made by or on behalf of any person whose blood is involved, may or, upon motion of any party to the action made at a time so as not to delay the proceedings unduly, shall order the mother, child and alleged father to submit to blood tests. If any party refuses to submit to the tests, the court may resolve the question of paternity, parentage or identity of a child against the party or enforce its order if the rights of others and the interests of justice so require.

(d) Selection of experts.--The tests shall be made by experts qualified as examiners of blood types, who shall be appointed by the court. The experts shall be called by the court as witnesses to testify to their findings and shall be subject to cross-examination by the parties. Any party or person at whose suggestion the tests have been ordered may demand that other experts qualified as examiners of blood types perform independent tests under order of court, the results of which may be offered in evidence. The number and qualifications of experts shall be determined by the court.

(e) Compensation of experts.--The compensation of each expert witness appointed by the court shall be fixed at a reasonable amount. It shall be paid as the court shall order. Subject to general rules, the court may order that it be paid by the parties in such proportions and at such times as it shall prescribe or that the proportion of any party be paid by the county and that, after payment by the parties or the county, or both, all or part or none of it be taxed as costs in the action. Subject to general rules, the fee of an expert witness called by a party but not appointed by the court shall be paid by the party calling him, but shall not be taxed as costs in the action.

(f) Effect of test results.--If the court finds that the conclusions of all the experts as disclosed by the evidence based upon the tests are that the alleged father is not the father of the child, the question of paternity, parentage or identity of a child shall be resolved accordingly. If the experts disagree in their findings or conclusions, the question shall be submitted upon all the evidence.

(g) Effect on presumption of legitimacy.--The presumption of legitimacy of a child born during wedlock is overcome if the court finds that the conclusions of all the experts as disclosed by the evidence based upon the tests show that the husband is not the father of the child.

Chapter 53. Custody

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Subchapter A General Provisions

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

5322. Definitions

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) This chapter.--The following words and phrases when used in this chapter shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

“Abuse.” As defined in section 6102 (relating to definitions).

“Adult.” An individual 18 years of age or older.

“Agency.” Any organization, society, institution, court facility or other entity which provides for the care of a child. The term does not include a county children and youth social service agency.

“Child.” An unemancipated individual under 18 years of age.

“Legal custody.” The right to make major decisions on behalf of the child, including, but not limited to, medical, religious and educational decisions.

“Parental duties.” Includes meeting the physical, emotional and social needs of the child.

“Partial physical custody.” The right to assume physical custody of the child for less than a majority of the time.

“Physical custody.” The actual physical possession and control of a child.

“Primary physical custody.” The right to assume physical custody of the child for the majority of time.

“Relocation.” A change in a residence of the child which significantly impairs the ability of a nonrelocating party to exercise custodial rights.

“Shared legal custody.” The right of more than one individual to legal custody of the child.

“Shared physical custody.” The right of more than one individual to assume physical custody of the child, each having significant periods of physical custodial time with the child.

“Sole legal custody.” The right of one individual to exclusive legal custody of the child.

“Sole physical custody.” The right of one individual to exclusive physical custody of the child.

“Supervised physical custody.” Custodial time during which an agency or an adult designated by the court or agreed upon by the parties monitors the interaction between the child and the individual with those rights.

(b) Other law.--In a statutory provision other than in this chapter, when the term “visitation” is used in reference to child custody, the term may be construed to mean:

(1) partial physical custody;

(2) shared physical custody; or

(3) supervised physical custody.

5323. Award of custody

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Types of award.--After considering the factors set forth in section 5328 (relating to factors to consider when awarding custody), the court may award any of the following types of custody if it is in the best interest of the child:

(1) Shared physical custody.

(2) Primary physical custody.

(3) Partial physical custody.

(4) Sole physical custody.

(5) Supervised physical custody.

(6) Shared legal custody.

(7) Sole legal custody.

(b) Interim award.--The court may issue an interim award of custody to a party who has standing under section 5324 (relating to standing for any form of physical custody or legal custody) or 5325 (relating to standing for partial physical custody and supervised physical custody) in the manner prescribed by the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure governing special relief in custody matters.

(c) Notice.--Any custody order shall include notice of a party's obligations under section 5337 (relating to relocation).

(d) Reasons for award.--The court shall delineate the reasons for its decision on the record in open court or in a written opinion or order.

(e) Safety conditions.--After considering the factors under section 5328(a)(2), if the court finds that there is an ongoing risk of harm to the child or an abused party and awards any form of custody to a party who committed the abuse or who has a household member who committed the abuse, the court shall include in the custody order safety conditions designed to protect the child or the abused party.

(f) Enforcement.--In awarding custody, the court shall specify the terms and conditions of the award in sufficient detail to enable a party to enforce the court order through law enforcement authorities.

(g) Contempt for noncompliance with any custody order.--

(1) A party who willfully fails to comply with any custody order may, as prescribed by general rule, be adjudged in contempt. Contempt shall be punishable by any one or more of the following:

(i) Imprisonment for a period of not more than six months.

(ii) A fine of not more than $500.

(iii) Probation for a period of not more than six months.

(iv) An order for nonrenewal, suspension or denial of operating privilege under section 4355 (relating to denial or suspension of licenses).

(v) Counsel fees and costs.

(2) An order committing an individual to jail under this section shall specify the condition which, when fulfilled, will result in the release of that individual.

(h) Parties in same residence.--Parties living separate and apart in the same residence may seek relief under this chapter, but any custody order made under such a circumstance shall be effective only upon:

(1) one party physically vacating the residence; or

(2) an order awarding one party exclusive possession of the residence.

5324. Standing for any form of physical custody or legal custody

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

The following individuals may file an action under this chapter for any form of physical custody or legal custody:

(1) A parent of the child.

(2) A person who stands in loco parentis to the child.

(3) A grandparent of the child who is not in loco parentis to the child:

(i) whose relationship with the child began either with the consent of a parent of the child or under a court order;

(ii) who assumes or is willing to assume responsibility for the child; and

(iii) when one of the following conditions is met:

(A) the child has been determined to be a dependent child under 42 Pa.C.S. Ch. 63 (relating to juvenile matters);

(B) the child is substantially at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse or incapacity; or

(C) the child has, for a period of at least 12 consecutive months, resided with the grandparent, excluding brief temporary absences of the child from the home, and is removed from the home by the parents, in which case the action must be filed within six months after the removal of the child from the home.

5325. Standing for partial physical custody and supervised physical custody

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

In addition to situations set forth in section 5324 (relating to standing for any form of physical custody or legal custody), grandparents and great-grandparents may file an action under this chapter for partial physical custody or supervised physical custody in the following situations:

(1) where the parent of the child is deceased, a parent or grandparent of the deceased parent may file an action under this section;

(2) where the parents of the child have been separated for a period of at least six months or have commenced and continued a proceeding to dissolve their marriage; or

(3) when the child has, for a period of at least 12 consecutive months, resided with the grandparent or great-grandparent, excluding brief temporary absences of the child from the home, and is removed from the home by the parents, an action must be filed within six months after the removal of the child from the home.

5328. Factors to consider when awarding custody

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Factors.--In ordering any form of custody, the court shall determine the best interest of the child by considering all relevant factors, giving weighted consideration to those factors which affect the safety of the child, including the following:

(1) Which party is more likely to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and another party.

(2) The present and past abuse committed by a party or member of the party's household, whether there is a continued risk of harm to the child or an abused party and which party can better provide adequate physical safeguards and supervision of the child.

(2.1) The information set forth in section 5329.1(a) (relating to consideration of child abuse and involvement with protective services).

(3) The parental duties performed by each party on behalf of the child.

(4) The need for stability and continuity in the child's education, family life and community life.

(5) The availability of extended family.

(6) The child's sibling relationships.

(7) The well-reasoned preference of the child, based on the child's maturity and judgment.

(8) The attempts of a parent to turn the child against the other parent, except in cases of domestic violence where reasonable safety measures are necessary to protect the child from harm.

(9) Which party is more likely to maintain a loving, stable, consistent and nurturing relationship with the child adequate for the child's emotional needs.

(10) Which party is more likely to attend to the daily physical, emotional, developmental, educational and special needs of the child.

(11) The proximity of the residences of the parties.

(12) Each party's availability to care for the child or ability to make appropriate child-care arrangements.

(13) The level of conflict between the parties and the willingness and ability of the parties to cooperate with one another. A party's effort to protect a child from abuse by another party is not evidence of unwillingness or inability to cooperate with that party.

(14) The history of drug or alcohol abuse of a party or member of a party's household.

(15) The mental and physical condition of a party or member of a party's household.

(16) Any other relevant factor.

(b) Gender neutral.--In making a determination under subsection (a), no party shall receive preference based upon gender in any award granted under this chapter.

(c) Grandparents and great-grandparents.--

(1) In ordering partial physical custody or supervised physical custody to a party who has standing under section 5325(1) or (2)(relating to standing for partial physical custody and supervised physical custody), the court shall consider the following:

(i) the amount of personal contact between the child and the party prior to the filing of the action;

(ii) whether the award interferes with any parent-child relationship; and

(iii) whether the award is in the best interest of the child.

(2) In ordering partial physical custody or supervised physical custody to a parent's parent or grandparent who has standing under section 5325(3), the court shall consider whether the award:

(i) interferes with any parent-child relationship; and

(ii) is in the best interest of the child.

5329. Consideration of criminal conviction

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Offenses.--Where a party seeks any form of custody, the court shall consider whether that party or member of that party's household has been convicted of or has pleaded guilty or no contest to any of the offenses in this section or an offense in another jurisdiction substantially equivalent to any of the offenses in this section. The court shall consider such conduct and determine that the party does not pose a threat of harm to the child before making any order of custody to that parent when considering the following offenses:

18 Pa.C.S. Ch. 25 (relating to criminal homicide).

18 Pa.C.S. § 2702 (relating to aggravated assault).

18 Pa.C.S. § 2706 (relating to terroristic threats).

18 Pa.C.S. § 2709.1 (relating to stalking).

18 Pa.C.S. § 2901 (relating to kidnapping).

18 Pa.C.S. § 2902 (relating to unlawful restraint).

18 Pa.C.S. § 2903 (relating to false imprisonment).

18 Pa.C.S. § 2910 (relating to luring a child into a motor vehicle or structure).

18 Pa.C.S. § 3121 (relating to rape).

18 Pa.C.S. § 3122.1 (relating to statutory sexual assault).

18 Pa.C.S. § 3123 (relating to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse).

18 Pa.C.S. § 3124.1 (relating to sexual assault).

18 Pa.C.S. § 3125 (relating to aggravated indecent assault).

18 Pa.C.S. § 3126 (relating to indecent assault).

18 Pa.C.S. § 3127 (relating to indecent exposure).

18 Pa.C.S. § 3129 (relating to sexual intercourse with animal).

18 Pa.C.S. § 3130 (relating to conduct relating to sex offenders).

18 Pa.C.S. § 3301 (relating to arson and related offenses).

18 Pa.C.S. § 4302 (relating to incest).

18 Pa.C.S. § 4303 (relating to concealing death of child).

18 Pa.C.S. § 4304 (relating to endangering welfare of children).

18 Pa.C.S. § 4305 (relating to dealing in infant children).

18 Pa.C.S. § 5902(b) (relating to prostitution and related offenses).

18 Pa.C.S. § 5903(c) or (d) (relating to obscene and other sexual materials and performances).

18 Pa.C.S. § 6301 (relating to corruption of minors).

18 Pa.C.S. § 6312 (relating to sexual abuse of children).

18 Pa.C.S. § 6318 (relating to unlawful contact with minor).

18 Pa.C.S. § 6320 (relating to sexual exploitation of children).

Section 6114 (relating to contempt for violation of order or agreement).

The former 75 Pa.C.S. § 3731 (relating to driving under influence of alcohol or controlled substance).

75 Pa.C.S. Ch. 38 (relating to driving after imbibing alcohol or utilizing drugs).

Section 13(a)(1) of the act of April 14, 1972 (P.L. 233, No. 64),1 known as The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, to the extent that it prohibits the manufacture, sale or delivery, holding, offering for sale or possession of any controlled substance or other drug or device.

(b) Parent convicted of murder.--No court shall award custody, partial custody or supervised physical custody to a parent who has been convicted of murder under 18 Pa.C.S. § 2502(a) (relating to murder) of the other parent of the child who is the subject of the order unless the child is of suitable age and consents to the order.

(b.1) Parent convicted of certain sexual offenses.--

(1) Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter to the contrary and subject to paragraph (2), if a parent who is a victim of any of the offenses set forth in this paragraph objects, no court shall award any type of custody set forth in section 5323 (relating to award of custody) to the other parent of a child conceived as a result of any of the following offenses for which the other parent has been convicted:

18 Pa.C.S. § 3121.

18 Pa.C.S. § 3122.1.

18 Pa.C.S. § 3124.1, where the offense involved sexual intercourse.

18 Pa.C.S. § 3124.2 (relating to institutional sexual assault), where the offense involved sexual intercourse.

18 Pa.C.S. § 4302.

(2) A court may award any type of custody set forth in section 5323 to a parent who has been convicted of an offense under paragraph (1) if:

(i) the parent who is a victim had an opportunity to address the court;

(ii) the child is of suitable age and consents to the custody order; and

(iii) the court determines the award is in the best interest of the child.

(3) Paternity of the child shall be established by voluntary acknowledgment of paternity or blood, genetic or other paternity testing acceptable to the court. The cost of the testing shall be borne by the parent who was convicted of the offense.

(c) Initial evaluation.--At the initial in-person contact with the court, the judge, conference officer or other appointed individual shall perform an initial evaluation to determine whether the party or household member who committed an offense under subsection (a) poses a threat to the child and whether counseling is necessary. The initial evaluation shall not be conducted by a mental health professional. After the initial evaluation, the court may order further evaluation or counseling by a mental health professional if the court determines it is necessary.

(d) Counseling.--

(1) Where the court determines under subsection (c) that counseling is necessary, it shall appoint a qualified professional specializing in treatment relating to the particular offense to provide counseling to the offending individual.

(2) Counseling may include a program of treatment or individual therapy designed to rehabilitate the offending individual which addresses, but is not limited to, issues regarding physical and sexual abuse, the psychology of the offender and the effects of the offense on the victim.

(e) Subsequent evaluation.--

(1) At any time during or subsequent to the counseling under subsection (d), the court may require another evaluation to determine whether further counseling is necessary.

(2) If the court awards custody to a party who committed an offense under subsection (a) or who shares a household with an individual who committed an offense under subsection (a), the court may require subsequent evaluations on the rehabilitation of the offending individual and the well-being of the child subsequent to the order. If, upon review of a subsequent evaluation, the court determines that the offending individual poses a threat of physical, emotional or psychological harm to the child, the court may schedule a hearing to modify the custody order.

(f) Costs.--The court may order a party to pay all or part of the costs of the counseling and evaluations under this section.

5329.1. Consideration of child abuse and involvement with protective services

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Information sharing.--In accordance with section 6340(a)(5.1) (relating to release of information in confidential reports), where a party seeks any form of custody subject to the examination of the parties, the court shall determine:

(1) With respect to child abuse under Chapter 63 (relating to child protective services) or a child who is a victim of a crime under 18 Pa.C.S. (relating to crimes and offenses) which would constitute abuse under Chapter 63:

(i) Whether the child is the subject of an indicated or founded report of child abuse.

(ii) Whether a party or a member of the party's household has been identified as the perpetrator in an indicated or founded report of child abuse.

(iii) The date and circumstances of the child abuse.

(iv) The jurisdiction where the child abuse investigation took place.

(2) With respect to child protective services or general protective services under Chapter 63:

(i) Whether a party or a member of a party's household has been provided services.

(ii) The type of services provided.

(iii) The circumstances surrounding the provision of services.

(iv) The status of services.

(v) The date the services were provided.

(vi) The jurisdiction where the services were provided.

(b) Cooperation.--The following apply:

(1) The Department of Public Welfare [FN1] and the county children and youth social service agency shall fully cooperate with the court and assist the court in fulfilling its duties under this section.

(2) The Department of Public Welfare and the county children and youth social service agency shall fully cooperate with the governing authority in order to implement the provisions of this section.

(3) The governing authority shall develop procedures to implement the provisions of this section.

(4) As used in this subsection, the term “governing authority” shall have the meaning given to it in 42 Pa.C.S. § 102 (relating to definitions).

5337. Relocation

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Applicability.--This section applies to any proposed relocation.

(b) General rule.--No relocation shall occur unless:

(1) every individual who has custody rights to the child consents to the proposed relocation; or

(2) the court approves the proposed relocation.

(c) Notice.--

(1) The party proposing the relocation shall notify every other individual who has custody rights to the child.

(2) Notice, sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, shall be given no later than:

(i) the 60th day before the date of the proposed relocation; or

(ii) the tenth day after the date that the individual knows of the relocation, if:

(A) the individual did not know and could not reasonably have known of the relocation in sufficient time to comply with the 60-day notice; and

(B) it is not reasonably possible to delay the date of relocation so as to comply with the 60-day notice.

(3) Except as provided by section 5336 (relating to access to records and information), the following information, if available, must be included with the notice of the proposed relocation:

(i) The address of the intended new residence.

(ii) The mailing address, if not the same as the address of the intended new residence.

(iii) Names and ages of the individuals in the new residence, including individuals who intend to live in the new residence.

(iv) The home telephone number of the intended new residence, if available.

(v) The name of the new school district and school.

(vi) The date of the proposed relocation.

(vii) The reasons for the proposed relocation.

(viii) A proposal for a revised custody schedule.

(ix) Any other information which the party proposing the relocation deems appropriate.

(x) A counter-affidavit as provided under subsection (d)(1) which can be used to object to the proposed relocation and the modification of a custody order.

(xi) A warning to the nonrelocating party that if the nonrelocating party does not file with the court an objection to the proposed relocation within 30 days after receipt of the notice, that party shall be foreclosed from objecting to the relocation.

(4) If any of the information set forth in paragraph (3) is not known when the notice is sent but is later made known to the party proposing the relocation, then that party shall promptly inform every individual who received notice under this subsection.

(d) Objection to proposed relocation.--

(1) A party entitled to receive notice may file with the court an objection to the proposed relocation and seek a temporary or permanent order to prevent the relocation. The nonrelocating party shall have the opportunity to indicate whether he objects to relocation or not and whether he objects to modification of the custody order or not. If the party objects to either relocation or modification of the custody order, a hearing shall be held as provided in subsection (g)(1). The objection shall be made by completing and returning to the court a counter-affidavit, which shall be verified subject to penalties under 18 Pa.C.S. § 4904 (relating to unsworn falsification to authorities), in substantially the following form:

COUNTER-AFFIDAVIT REGARDING RELOCATION

This proposal of relocation involves the following child/children:

Child's Name

Age

Currently residing at:
....................

..........

....................
Child's Name

Age

Currently residing at:
....................

..........

....................
Child's Name

Age

Currently residing at:
....................

..........

....................

I have received a notice of proposed relocation and

1. ... I do not object to the relocation and I do not object to the modification of the custody order consistent with the proposal for revised custody schedule as attached to the notice.

2. ... I do not object to the relocation, but I do object to modification of the custody order, and I request that a hearing be scheduled:

a. ... Prior to allowing (name of child/children) to relocate.

b. ... After the child/children relocate.

3. ... I do object to the relocation and I do object to the modification of the custody order, and I further request that a hearing be held on both matters prior to the relocation taking place.

...............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

I understand that in addition to checking (2) or (3) above, I must also file this notice with the court in writing and serve it on the other party by certified mail, return receipt requested. If I fail to do so within 30 days of my receipt of the proposed relocation notice, I shall be foreclosed from objecting to the relocation.

...............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

I verify that the statements made in this counter-affidavit are true and correct. I understand that false statements herein are made subject to the penalties of 18 Pa.C.S. § 4904 (relating to unsworn falsification to authorities).

Date:

...............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

...............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

(2) An objection made under this subsection shall be filed with the court within 30 days of receipt of the proposed relocation notice and served on the other party by certified mail, return receipt requested.

(3) If notice of the proposed relocation has been properly given and no objection to the proposed relocation has been filed in court, then it shall be presumed that the nonrelocating party has consented to the proposed relocation.

(4) If a party who has been given proper notice does not file with the court an objection to the relocation within 30 days after receipt of the notice but later petitions the court for review of the custodial arrangements, the court shall not accept testimony challenging the relocation.

(e) Confirmation of relocation.--If no objection to the proposed relocation is filed under subsection (d), the party proposing the relocation shall file the following with the court prior to the relocation:

(1) an affidavit stating that the party provided notice to every individual entitled to notice, the time to file an objection to the proposed relocation has passed and no individual entitled to receive notice has filed an objection to the proposed relocation;

(2) Proof that proper notice was given in the form of a return receipt with the signature of the addressee and the full notice that was sent to the addressee.

(3) a petition to confirm the relocation and modify any existing custody order; and

(4) a proposed order containing the information set forth in subsection (c)(3).

(f) Modification of custody order.--If a counter-affidavit regarding relocation is filed with the court which indicates the nonrelocating party both has no objection to the proposed relocation and no objection to the modification of the custody order consistent with the proposal for revised custody schedule, the court may modify the existing custody order by approving the proposal for revised custody schedule submitted under subsection (c)(3)(viii), and shall specify the method by which its future modification can be made if desired by either party. If a counter-affidavit regarding relocation is filed with the court which indicates the nonrelocating party objects either to the proposed relocation or to the modification of the custody order consistent with the proposal for revised custody schedule, the court shall modify the existing custody order only after holding a hearing to establish the terms and conditions of the order pursuant to the relocation indicating the rights, if any, of the nonrelocating parties.

(g) Hearing.--

(1) Except as set forth in paragraph (3), the court shall hold an expedited full hearing on the proposed relocation after a timely objection has been filed and before the relocation occurs.

(2) Except as set forth in paragraph (3), the court may, on its own motion, hold an expedited full hearing on the proposed relocation before the relocation occurs.

(3) Notwithstanding paragraphs (1) and (2), if the court finds that exigent circumstances exist, the court may approve the relocation pending an expedited full hearing.

(4) If the court approves the proposed relocation, it shall:

(i) modify any existing custody order; or

(ii) establish the terms and conditions of a custody order.

(h) Relocation factors.--In determining whether to grant a proposed relocation, the court shall consider the following factors, giving weighted consideration to those factors which affect the safety of the child:

(1) The nature, quality, extent of involvement and duration of the child's relationship with the party proposing to relocate and with the nonrelocating party, siblings and other significant persons in the child's life.

(2) The age, developmental stage, needs of the child and the likely impact the relocation will have on the child's physical, educational and emotional development, taking into consideration any special needs of the child.

(3) The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the nonrelocating party and the child through suitable custody arrangements, considering the logistics and financial circumstances of the parties.

(4) The child's preference, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child.

(5) Whether there is an established pattern of conduct of either party to promote or thwart the relationship of the child and the other party.

(6) Whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life for the party seeking the relocation, including, but not limited to, financial or emotional benefit or educational opportunity.

(7) Whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life for the child, including, but not limited to, financial or emotional benefit or educational opportunity.

(8) The reasons and motivation of each party for seeking or opposing the relocation.

(9) The present and past abuse committed by a party or member of the party's household and whether there is a continued risk of harm to the child or an abused party.

(10) Any other factor affecting the best interest of the child.

(i) Burden of proof.--

(1) The party proposing the relocation has the burden of establishing that the relocation will serve the best interest of the child as shown under the factors set forth in subsection (h).

(2) Each party has the burden of establishing the integrity of that party's motives in either seeking the relocation or seeking to prevent the relocation.

(j) Failure to provide reasonable notice.--The court may consider a failure to provide reasonable notice of a proposed relocation as:

(1) a factor in making a determination regarding the relocation;

(2) a factor in determining whether custody rights should be modified;

(3) a basis for ordering the return of the child to the nonrelocating party if the relocation has occurred without reasonable notice;

(4) sufficient cause to order the party proposing the relocation to pay reasonable expenses and counsel fees incurred by the party objecting to the relocation; and

(5) a ground for contempt and the imposition of sanctions against the party proposing the relocation.

(k) Mitigation.--Any consideration of a failure to provide reasonable notice under subsection (i) shall be subject to mitigation if the court determines that such failure was caused in whole, or in part, by abuse.

(l) Effect of relocation prior to hearing.--If a party relocates with the child prior to a full expedited hearing, the court shall not confer any presumption in favor of the relocation.

5338. Modification of existing order

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Best interest of the child.--Upon petition, a court may modify a custody order to serve the best interest of the child.

(b) Applicability.--Except as provided in 51 Pa.C.S. § 4109 (relating to child custody proceedings during military deployment), this section shall apply to any custody order entered by a court of this Commonwealth or any other state subject to the jurisdictional requirements set forth in Chapter 54 (relating to uniform child custody jurisdiction and enforcement).

Chapter 54. Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Subchapter A. General Provisions

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

5402. Definitions

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

The following words and phrases when used in this chapter shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

“Abandoned.” Left without provision for reasonable and necessary care or supervision.

“Child.” An individual who has not attained 18 years of age.

“Child custody determination.” A judgment, decree or other order of a court providing for legal custody, physical custody or visitation with respect to a child. The term includes a permanent, temporary, initial and modification order. The term does not include an order relating to child support or other monetary obligation of an individual.

“Child custody proceeding.” A proceeding in which legal custody, physical custody or visitation with respect to a child is an issue. The term includes a proceeding for divorce, separation, neglect, abuse, dependency, guardianship, paternity, termination of parental rights and protection from domestic violence, in which the issue may appear. The term does not include a proceeding involving juvenile delinquency, contractual emancipation or enforcement under Subchapter C (relating to enforcement).

“Commencement.” The filing of the first pleading in a proceeding.

“Court.” An entity authorized under the law of a state to establish, enforce or modify a child custody determination.

“Home state.” The state in which a child lived with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least six consecutive months immediately before the commencement of a child custody proceeding. In the case of a child six months of age or younger, the term means the state in which the child lived from birth with any of the persons mentioned. A period of temporary absence of any of the mentioned persons is part of the period.

“Initial determination.” The first child custody determination concerning a particular child.

“Issuing court.” The court that makes a child custody determination for which enforcement is sought under this chapter.

“Modification.” A child custody determination that changes, replaces, supersedes or is otherwise made after a previous determination concerning the same child, whether or not it is made by the court that made the previous determination.

“Person.” An individual, corporation, business trust, estate, trust, partnership, limited liability company, association, joint venture, government or governmental subdivision, agency or instrumentality, public corporation or any other legal or commercial entity.

“Person acting as a parent.” A person, other than a parent, who:

(1) has physical custody of the child or has had physical custody for a period of six consecutive months, including any temporary absence, within one year immediately before the commencement of a child custody proceeding; and

(2) has been awarded legal custody by a court or claims a right to legal custody under the laws of this Commonwealth.

“Physical custody.” The physical care and supervision of a child.

“State.” A state of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands or any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

“Tribe.” A Native American tribe or band, or Alaskan Native village, which is recognized by Federal law or formally acknowledged by a state.

“Warrant.” An order issued by a court authorizing law enforcement officers to take physical custody of a child.

Subchapter B. Jurisdiction

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

5421. Initial child custody jurisdiction

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--Except as otherwise provided in section 5424 (relating to temporary emergency jurisdiction), a court of this Commonwealth has jurisdiction to make an initial child custody determination only if:

(1) this Commonwealth is the home state of the child on the date of the commencement of the proceeding or was the home state of the child within six months before the commencement of the proceeding and the child is absent from this Commonwealth but a parent or person acting as a parent continues to live in this Commonwealth;

(2) a court of another state does not have jurisdiction under paragraph (1) or a court of the home state of the child has declined to exercise jurisdiction on the ground that this Commonwealth is the more appropriate forum under section 5427 (relating to inconvenient forum) or 5428 (relating to jurisdiction declined by reason of conduct) and:

(i) the child and the child's parents, or the child and at least one parent or a person acting as a parent, have a significant connection with this Commonwealth other than mere physical presence; and

(ii) substantial evidence is available in this Commonwealth concerning the child's care, protection, training and personal relationships;

(3) all courts having jurisdiction under paragraph (1) or (2) have declined to exercise jurisdiction on the ground that a court of this Commonwealth is the more appropriate forum to determine the custody of the child under section 5427 or 5428; or

(4) no court of any other state would have jurisdiction under the criteria specified in paragraph (1), (2) or (3).

(b) Exclusive jurisdictional basis.--Subsection (a) is the exclusive jurisdictional basis for making a child custody determination by a court of this Commonwealth.

(c) Physical presence and personal jurisdiction unnecessary.--Physical presence of or personal jurisdiction over a party or a child is not necessary or sufficient to make a child custody determination.

5423. Jurisdiction to modify determination

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Except as otherwise provided in section 5424 (relating to temporary emergency jurisdiction), a court of this Commonwealth may not modify a child custody determination made by a court of another state unless a court of this Commonwealth has jurisdiction to make an initial determination under section 5421 (a)(1) or (2) (relating to initial child custody jurisdiction) and:

(1) the court of the other state determines it no longer has exclusive, continuing jurisdiction under section 5422 (relating to exclusive, continuing jurisdiction) or that a court of this Commonwealth would be a more convenient forum under section 5427 (relating to inconvenient forum); or

(2) a court of this Commonwealth or a court of the other state determines that the child, the child's parents and any person acting as a parent do not presently reside in the other state.

5424. Temporary emergency jurisdiction

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--A court of this Commonwealth has temporary emergency jurisdiction if the child is present in this Commonwealth and the child has been abandoned or it is necessary in an emergency to protect the child because the child or a sibling or parent of the child is subjected to or threatened with mistreatment or abuse.

(b) No previous custody determination or proceeding.--If there is no previous child custody determination that is entitled to be enforced under this chapter and a child custody proceeding has not been commenced in a court of a state having jurisdiction under sections 5421 (relating to initial child custody jurisdiction) through 5423 (relating to jurisdiction to modify determination), a child custody determination made under this section remains in effect until an order is obtained from a court of a state having jurisdiction under sections 5421 through 5423. If a child custody proceeding has not been or is not commenced in a court of a state having jurisdiction under sections 5421 through 5423, a child custody determination made under this section becomes a final determination if it so provides and this Commonwealth becomes the home state of the child.

(c) Previous custody determination or proceeding.--If there is a previous child custody determination that is entitled to be enforced under this chapter or a child custody proceeding has been commenced in a court of a state having jurisdiction under sections 5421 through 5423, any order issued by a court of this Commonwealth under this section must specify in the order a period that the court considers adequate to allow the person seeking an order to obtain an order from the state having jurisdiction under sections 5421 through 5423. The order issued in this Commonwealth remains in effect until an order is obtained from the other state within the period specified or the period expires.

(d) Mandatory communication between courts.--A court of this Commonwealth which has been asked to make a child custody determination under this section, upon being informed that a child custody proceeding has been commenced in or a child custody determination has been made by a court of a state having jurisdiction under sections 5421 through 5423, shall immediately communicate with the other court. A court of this Commonwealth which is exercising jurisdiction pursuant to sections 5421 through 5423, upon being informed that a child custody proceeding has been commenced in or a child custody determination has been made by a court of another state under a statute similar to this section, shall immediately communicate with the court of that state to resolve the emergency, protect the safety of the parties and the child and determine a period for the duration of the temporary order.

5427. Inconvenient forum

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--A court of this Commonwealth which has jurisdiction under this chapter to make a child custody determination may decline to exercise its jurisdiction at any time if it determines that it is an inconvenient forum under the circumstances and that a court of another state is a more appropriate forum. The issue of inconvenient forum may be raised upon motion of a party, the court's own motion or request of another court.

(b) Factors.--Before determining whether it is an inconvenient forum, a court of this Commonwealth shall consider whether it is appropriate for a court of another state to exercise jurisdiction. For this purpose, the court shall allow the parties to submit information and shall consider all relevant factors, including:

(1) whether domestic violence has occurred and is likely to continue in the future and which state could best protect the parties and the child;

(2) the length of time the child has resided outside this Commonwealth;

(3) the distance between the court in this Commonwealth and the court in the state that would assume jurisdiction;

(4) the relative financial circumstances of the parties;

(5) any agreement of the parties as to which state should assume jurisdiction;

(6) the nature and location of the evidence required to resolve the pending litigation, including testimony of the child;

(7) the ability of the court of each state to decide the issue expeditiously and the procedures necessary to present the evidence; and

(8) the familiarity of the court of each state with the facts and issues in the pending litigation.

(c) Stay.--If a court of this Commonwealth determines that it is an inconvenient forum and that a court of another state is a more appropriate forum, it shall stay the proceedings upon condition that a child custody proceeding be promptly commenced in another designated state and may impose any other condition the court considers just and proper.

(d) Jurisdiction declined.--A court of this Commonwealth may decline to exercise its jurisdiction under this chapter if a child custody determination is incidental to an action for divorce or another proceeding while still retaining jurisdiction over the divorce or other proceeding.

Subchapter C. Enforcement

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

5451. Warrant to take physical custody of child

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--Upon the filing of a petition seeking enforcement of a child custody determination, the petitioner may file a verified application for the issuance of a warrant to take physical custody of the child if the child is immediately likely to suffer serious physical harm or be removed from this Commonwealth.

(b) Petition.--If the court, upon the testimony of the petitioner or other witness, finds that the child is imminently likely to suffer serious physical harm or be removed from this Commonwealth, it may issue a warrant to take physical custody of the child. The petition must be heard on the next judicial day after the warrant is executed unless that date is impossible. In that event, the court shall hold the hearing on the first judicial day possible. The application for the warrant must include the statements required by section 5448(b) (relating to expedited enforcement of child custody determination).

(c) Warrant.--A warrant to take physical custody of a child must:

(1) recite the facts upon which a conclusion of imminent serious physical harm or removal from the jurisdiction is based;

(2) direct law enforcement officers to take physical custody of the child immediately; and

(3) provide for the placement of the child pending final relief.

(d) Time of service.--The respondent must be served with the petition, warrant and order immediately after the child is taken into physical custody.

(e) Enforcement.--A warrant to take physical custody of a child is enforceable throughout this Commonwealth. If the court finds on the basis of the testimony of the petitioner or other witness that a less intrusive remedy is not effective, it may authorize law enforcement officers to enter private property to take physical custody of the child. If required by exigent circumstances of the case, the court may authorize law enforcement officers to make a forcible entry at any hour.

(f) Appearance of child.--The court may impose conditions upon placement of a child to ensure the appearance of the child and the child's custodian.

5445. Registration of child custody determination

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--A child custody determination issued by a court of another state may be registered in this Commonwealth, with or without a simultaneous request for enforcement, by sending to the appropriate court in this Commonwealth:

(1) a letter or other document requesting registration;

(2) two copies, including one certified copy, of the determination sought to be registered and a statement under penalty of perjury that to the best of the knowledge and belief of the person seeking registration the order has not been modified; and

(3) except as otherwise provided in section 5429 (relating to information to be submitted to court), the name and address of the person seeking registration and any parent or person acting as a parent who has been awarded custody or visitation in the child custody determination sought to be registered.

(b) Duties of registering court.--On receipt of the documents required by subsection (a), the registering court shall:

(1) cause the determination to be filed as a foreign judgment, together with one copy of any accompanying documents and information, regardless of their form; and

(2) serve notice upon the persons named pursuant to subsection (a)(3) and provide them with an opportunity to contest the registration in accordance with this section.

(c) Notice.--The notice required by subsection (b)(2) must state that:

(1) a registered determination is enforceable as of the date of the registration in the same manner as a determination issued by a court of this Commonwealth;

(2) a hearing to contest the validity of the registered determination must be requested within 20 days after service of notice; and

(3) failure to contest the registration will result in confirmation of the child custody determination and preclude further contest of that determination with respect to any matter that could have been asserted.

(d) Contest over validity of registered order.--A person seeking to contest the validity of a registered order must request a hearing within 20 days after service of the notice. At that hearing, the court shall confirm the registered order unless the person contesting registration establishes that:

(1) the issuing court did not have jurisdiction under Subchapter B (relating to jurisdiction);

(2) the child custody determination sought to be registered has been vacated, stayed or modified by a court having jurisdiction to do so under Subchapter B; or

(3) the person contesting registration was entitled to notice, but notice was not given in accordance with the standards of section 5408 (relating to notice to persons outside Commonwealth), in the proceedings before the court that issued the order for which registration is sought.

(e) Failure to contest.--If a timely request for a hearing to contest the validity of the registration is not made, the registration is confirmed as a matter of law and the person requesting registration and all persons served must be notified of the confirmation.

(f) Res judicata.--Confirmation of a registered order, whether by operation of law or after notice and hearing, precludes further contest of the order with respect to any matter that could have been asserted at the time of registration.

5446. Enforcement of registered determination

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--A court of this Commonwealth may grant any relief normally available under the laws of this Commonwealth to enforce a registered child custody determination made by a court of another state.

(b) Modification.--A court of this Commonwealth shall recognize and enforce but may not modify, except in accordance with Subchapter B (relating to jurisdiction), a registered child custody determination of a court of another state.

Part VII. Abuse of Family

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Chapter 61. Protection from Abuse

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

6101. Short title of chapter.

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the Protection From Abuse Act.

6102. Definitions

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--The following words and phrases when used in this chapter shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Abuse." The occurrence of one or more of the following acts between family or household members, sexual or intimate partners or persons who share biological parenthood:

(1) Attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury, serious bodily injury, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault or incest with or without a deadly weapon.
(2) Placing another in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
(3) The infliction of false imprisonment pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. § 2903 (relating to false imprisonment).
(4) Physically or sexually abusing minor children, including such terms as defined in Chapter 63 (relating to child protective services).
(5) Knowingly engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts toward another person, including following the person, without proper authority, under circumstances which place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury. The definition of this paragraph applies only to proceedings commenced under this title and is inapplicable to any criminal prosecutions commenced under Title 18 (relating to crimes and offenses).


"Adult." An individual who is 18 years of age or older.

"Certified copy." A paper copy of the original order of the issuing court endorsed by the appropriate clerk of that court or an electronic copy of the original order of the issuing court endorsed with a digital signature of the judge or appropriate clerk of that court. A raised seal on the copy of the order of the issuing court shall not be required.

"Comparable court." A foreign court that:

(1) has subject matter jurisdiction and is authorized to issue ex parte, emergency, temporary or final protection orders in that jurisdiction; and
(2) possessed jurisdiction over the parties when the protection order was issued in that jurisdiction.


"Confidential communications." All information, whether written or spoken, transmitted between a victim and a domestic violence counselor or advocate in the course of the relationship. The term includes information received or given by the domestic violence counselor or advocate in the course of the relationship, as well as advice, reports, statistical data, memoranda or working papers, records or the like, given or made in the course of the relationship. The term also includes communications made by or to a linguistic interpreter assisting the victim, counselor or advocate in the course of the relationship.

"Domestic violence counselor/advocate." An individual who is engaged in a domestic violence program, the primary purpose of which is the rendering of counseling or assistance to victims of domestic violence, who has undergone 40 hours of training.

"Domestic violence program." A nonprofit organization or program whose primary purpose is to provide services to domestic violence victims which include, but are not limited to, crisis hotline; safe homes or shelters; community education; counseling systems intervention and interface; transportation, information and referral; and victim assistance.

"Family or household members." Spouses or persons who have been spouses, persons living as spouses or who lived as spouses, parents and children, other persons related by consanguinity or affinity, current or former sexual or intimate partners or persons who share biological parenthood.

"Firearm." Any weapon which is designed to or may readily be converted to expel any projectile by the action of an explosive or the frame or receiver of any such weapon as defined by 18 Pa.C.S. § 6105(i) (relating to persons not to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms).

"Foreign protection order." A protection order as defined by 18 U.S.C. § 2266 (relating to definitions) issued by a comparable court of another state, the District of Columbia, Indian tribe or territory, possession or commonwealth of the United States.

"Hearing officer." A magisterial district judge, judge of the Philadelphia Municipal Court, arraignment court magistrate appointed under 42 Pa.C.S. § 1123 (relating to jurisdiction and venue), master appointed under 42 Pa.C.S. § 1126 (relating to masters) and master for emergency relief.

"Master for emergency relief." A member of the bar of the Commonwealth appointed under section 6110(e) (relating to emergency relief by minor judiciary).

"Minor." An individual who is not an adult.

"Other weapon." Anything readily capable of lethal use and possessed under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for lawful uses which it may have. The term does not include a firearm.

"Safekeeping permit." A permit issued by a sheriff allowing a person to take possession of any firearm, other weapon or ammunition that a judge ordered a defendant to relinquish in a protection from abuse proceeding.

"Secure visitation facility." A court-approved visitation program offered in a facility with trained professional staff operated in a manner that safeguards children and parents from abuse and abduction.

"Sheriff."

(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), the sheriff of the county.

(2) In a city of the first class, the chief or head of the police department.


"Victim." A person who is physically or sexually abused by a family or household member. For purposes of section 6116 (relating to confidentiality), a victim is a person against whom abuse is committed who consults a domestic violence counselor or advocate for the purpose of securing advice, counseling or assistance. The term shall also include persons who have a significant relationship with the victim and who seek advice, counseling or assistance from a domestic violence counselor or advocate regarding abuse of the victim.

"Weapon." Anything readily capable of lethal use and possessed under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for lawful uses which it may have. The term includes a firearm which is not loaded or lacks a magazine, clip or other components to render it immediately operable and components which can readily be assembled into a weapon as defined by 18 Pa.C.S. § 907(relating to possessing instruments of crime).

(b) Other terms.--Terms not otherwise defined in this chapter shall have the meaning given to them in 18 Pa.C.S. (relating to crimes and offenses).

6103. Jurisdiction

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--The court shall have jurisdiction over all proceedings under this chapter.

(b) Effect of departure and nonresidence.-The right of the plaintiff to relief under this chapter shall not be affected by either of the following:

(1) The plaintiff's leaving the residence or household to avoid further abuse.
(2) The defendant's absence from this Commonwealth or the defendant's nonresidence in this Commonwealth, provided that the court has personal jurisdiction over the defendant in accordance with 42 Pa.C.S. § 5322 (relating to bases of personal jurisdiction over persons outside this Commonwealth).

6104. Full faith and credit and foreign protection orders

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--A court shall recognize and enforce a valid foreign protection order issued by a comparable court. The validity of a foreign protection order shall only be determined by a court.

(b) Affirmative defense.--Failure by a comparable court to provide reasonable notice and opportunity to be heard shall be an affirmative defense to any charge or process filed seeking enforcement of a foreign protection order. A comparable court shall have complied with that court's notice requirements and shall have given the defendant the opportunity to be heard before the foreign order was issued. In the case of ex parte orders, the comparable court shall have complied with that court's notice requirements and have given the defendant an opportunity to be heard within a reasonable period of time after the order was issued, consistent with due process.

(c) Invalid orders.--A foreign protection order issued by a comparable court against a party who has filed a petition, complaint or other written pleading for a protection order is not valid and not entitled to full faith and credit if:

(1) no cross or counter petition, complaint or other written pleading was filed seeking the protection order; or

(2) a cross or counter petition, complaint or other written pleading was filed and the court did not make a specific finding that each party was entitled to a protection order.

(d) Filing a foreign protection order.--A plaintiff may file a certified copy of a foreign protection order with the prothonotary in any county within this Commonwealth where the plaintiff believes enforcement may be necessary. The following provisions shall apply:

(1) No costs or fees associated with filing a foreign protection order shall be assigned to the plaintiff, including the cost of obtaining certified copies of the order. Costs and fees associated with filing a foreign protection order may be assessed against the defendant.
(2) Upon filing of a foreign protection order, a prothonotary shall transmit, in a manner prescribed by the Pennsylvania State Police, a copy of the order to the Pennsylvania State Police registry of protection orders.

(3) Filing of a foreign protection order shall not be a prerequisite for service and enforcement.

(e) Orders issued in another judicial district within this Commonwealth.--The filing of an order issued in another judicial district within this Commonwealth is not required for enforcement purposes.

6105. Responsibilities of law enforcement agencies

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--The police department of each municipal corporation, the Pennsylvania State Police and the sheriff of each county shall insure that all their officers, deputies and employees are familiar with the provisions of this chapter. Instruction concerning protection from abuse shall be made a part of the training curriculum for all trainee officers and deputies. All law enforcement agencies within this Commonwealth shall adopt a written domestic violence policy.

(b) Notice of services and rights.--Each law enforcement agency shall provide the abused person with oral and written notice of the availability of safe shelter and of domestic violence services in the community, including the hotline number for domestic violence services. The written notice, which shall be in English and Spanish and any additional language required by local rule of court, shall include the following statement:

"If you are the victim of domestic violence, you have the right to go to court and file a petition requesting an order for protection from domestic abuse pursuant to the Protection From Abuse Act (23 Pa.C.S. Ch. 61), which could include the following:
(1) An order restraining the abuser from further acts of abuse.
(2) An order directing the abuser to leave your household.
(3) An order preventing the abuser from entering your residence, school, business or place of employment.
(4) An order awarding you or the other parent temporary custody of or temporary visitation with your child or children.
(5) An order directing the abuser to pay support to you and the minor children if the abuser has a legal obligation to do so."

(c) Mandatory report.--Each law enforcement agency shall make an incident report, on a form prescribed by the Pennsylvania State Police, consistent with the report required by the Federal National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). The mandate for incident report completion shall not be operative until the Pennsylvania State Police have implemented NIBRS. The incident report may include the following:

(1) Names, addresses and telephone numbers of the victim, the accused, any witnesses and the caller.

(2) A second permanent address and telephone number for the victim, such as a close family member or a friend.

(3) A statement of the relationship between the victim and the accused.

(4) A narrative for the incident, including the date, time and whether the accused appeared intoxicated or under the influence of a controlled substance.

(5) What, if any, weapons were used or threatened to be used.

(6) A description of any injuries observed by the officer.

(7) A description of any injuries described by the victim but not observed by the officer and an indication that the injury was not observed.

(8) Documentation of any evidence that would tend to establish that a crime was committed.

(9) An indication of whether an arrest was made and the reason for electing not to arrest, whether there was a warrantless arrest, an arrest with a warrant or no arrest.

(10) Whether the accused actually was arrested or whether there is an outstanding arrest warrant.

(11) The crimes with which the accused was charged.

(12) If the accused was arrested and arraigned, whether bail was set and any conditions of bail imposed.

(13) If the officer did not arrest or seek an arrest warrant even though arrest was authorized, a detailed explanation of the reasons for the officer's decision not to arrest.

(14) The names and ages of any children present in the household and their address and telephone number if children were relocated.

(15) Notation of previous incidents of which the officer is personally aware.

(16) Notation of previous incidents reported by the victim or witnesses.

(17) If an officer was injured in the incident, the nature and circumstances of the injury.

(d) Notice of arrest.--All law enforcement agencies shall make reasonable efforts to notify any adult or emancipated minor protected by an order issued under this chapter of the arrest of the defendant for violation of an order as soon as possible. Unless the person cannot be located, notice of the arrest shall be provided not more than 24 hours after preliminary arraignment.

(e) Statewide registry.--

(1) The Pennsylvania State Police shall establish a Statewide registry of protection orders and shall maintain a complete and systematic record and index of all valid temporary and final court orders of protection, court-approved consent agreements and a foreign protection order filed pursuant to section 6104(d) (relating to full faith and credit and foreign protection orders). The Statewide registry shall include, but need not be limited to, the following:

(i) The names of the plaintiff and any protected parties.

(ii) The name and address of the defendant.

(iii) The relationship between the plaintiff and defendant.

(iv) The date the order was entered.

(v) The date the order expires.

(vi) The relief granted under sections 6108(a)(1), (2), (4), (6) and (7) (relating to relief) and 6110(a) (relating to emergency relief by minor judiciary).

(vii) The judicial district in which the order was entered.

(viii) Where furnished, the Social Security number and date of birth of the defendant.

(ix) Whether or not any or all firearms, other weapons or ammunition were ordered relinquished.

(2) The prothonotary shall send, on a form prescribed by the Pennsylvania State Police, a copy of the protection order or approved consent agreement to the Statewide registry of protection orders so that it is received within 24 hours of the entry of the order. Likewise, amendments to or revocation of an order shall be transmitted by the prothonotary within 24 hours of the entry of the order for modification or revocation. The Pennsylvania State Police shall enter orders, amendments and revocations in the Statewide registry of protection orders within eight hours of receipt. Vacated or expired orders shall be purged from the registry.

(3) The registry of the Pennsylvania State Police shall be available at all times to inform courts, dispatchers and law enforcement officers of any valid protection order involving any defendant.

(4) When an order granting relief under section 6108(a)(7) has been entered by a court, such information shall be available to the Pennsylvania State Police for the purpose of conducting a criminal history records check in compliance with the applicable provisions of 18 Pa.C.S. Ch. 61 Subch. A (relating to Uniform Firearms Act).

(5) Information contained in the Statewide registry shall not be subject to access under the act of June 21, 1957 (P.L. 390, No. 212), [FN1] referred to as the Right-to-Know Law.

(f) Information concerning crimes of violence.--Each police department in a city, borough or township and the Pennsylvania State Police shall transmit to the Pennsylvania State Police, in a manner prescribed by the Pennsylvania State Police, the information specified in subsection (c) related to crimes of violence between family or household members.

(g) Annual report.--The Pennsylvania State Police shall annually compile and analyze the incident report data received and publish a Statewide report which includes aggregate, county and department-based statistical profiles. The Pennsylvania State Police shall transmit a copy of the annual report to the Governor, the General Assembly and each domestic violence program in this Commonwealth.

(h) Enforcement of foreign protection orders.--

(1) All foreign protection orders shall have the presumption of validity in this Commonwealth, and police officers shall make arrests for violations thereof in the same manner as set for violations of protection orders issued within this Commonwealth. Until a foreign order is declared to be invalid by a court, it shall be enforced by all law enforcement personnel in this Commonwealth.

(2) A police officer shall rely upon any copy of a foreign protection order which has been presented to the officer by any source and may verify the existence of a protection order consistent with the provisions of section 6113(a) (relating to arrest for violation of order). The fact that a foreign protection order has not been filed with a prothonotary or entered into the Pennsylvania State Police registry shall not be grounds for law enforcement to refuse to enforce the order.

(i) Immunity.--The following entities shall be immune from civil liability for good faith conduct in any action arising in connection with a court's finding that the foreign order is invalid or unenforceable:

(1) Law enforcement agencies and their agents and employees.

(2) County correctional and detention facilities and their agents and employees.

(3) Prothonotaries and their agents and employees.


6106. Commencement of proceedings

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

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.

(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) (relating to hearings), 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 Welfare 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), [FN1] 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.

6107. Hearings

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--Within ten business days of the filing of a petition under this chapter, a hearing shall be held before the court, at which the plaintiff must prove the allegation of abuse by a preponderance of the evidence. The court shall, at the time the defendant is given notice of the hearing, advise the defendant of the right to be represented by counsel, of the possibility that any firearm, other weapon or ammunition owned and any firearm license possessed may be ordered temporarily relinquished, of the options for relinquishment of a firearm pursuant to this chapter, of the possibility that Federal law may prohibit the possession of firearms, including an explanation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8) (relating to unlawful acts), and that any protection order granted by a court may be considered in any subsequent proceedings under this title. This notice shall be printed and delivered in a manner which easily attracts attention to its content and shall specify that child custody is one of the proceedings where prior protection orders may be considered.

(b) Temporary orders.--

(1) If a plaintiff petitions for temporary order for protection from abuse and alleges immediate and present danger of abuse to the plaintiff or minor children, the court shall conduct an ex parte proceeding.
(2) The court may enter such a temporary order as it deems necessary to protect the plaintiff or minor children when it finds they are in immediate and present danger of abuse. The order shall remain in effect until modified or terminated by the court after notice and hearing.
(3) In addition to any other relief, the court may, pursuant to section 6108 (relating to relief), direct that the defendant temporarily relinquish to the sheriff any firearms, other weapons or ammunition for the duration of the temporary order if the petition demonstrates any of the following:
(i) Abuse which involves a firearm or other weapon.

(ii) An immediate and present danger of abuse. In determining whether an immediate and present danger of abuse exists, the court shall consider a number of factors, including, but not limited to:

(A) Whether the temporary order of protection from abuse is not likely to achieve its purpose in the absence of such a condition.

(B) Whether the defendant has previously violated a protection from abuse order.

(C) Whether past or present abuse to the plaintiff or any of the plaintiff's minor children resulted in injury.

(D) Whether the abuse occurred in public.

(E) Whether the abuse includes:

(I) threats of abuse or suicide;

(II) killing or threatening to kill pets;

(III) an escalation of violence;

(IV) stalking or obsessive behavior;

(V) sexual violence; or

(VI) drug or excessive alcohol use.

(4) If the court orders the defendant to temporarily relinquish any firearm, other weapon or ammunition pursuant to paragraph (3), the defendant shall decide in what manner the defendant is going to relinquish any firearm, other weapon or ammunition listed in the order. Relinquishment may be to the sheriff pursuant to section 6108(a)(7) or to a third party for safekeeping pursuant to section 6108.3 (relating to relinquishment to third party for safekeeping).

(c) Continued hearings.--If a hearing under subsection (a) is continued and no temporary order is issued, the court may make ex parte temporary orders under subsection (b) as it deems necessary.

6108. Relief

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--The court may grant any protection order or approve any consent agreement to bring about a cessation of abuse of the plaintiff or minor children. The order or agreement may include:

(1) Directing the defendant to refrain from abusing the plaintiff or minor children.
(2) Granting possession to the plaintiff of the residence or household to the exclusion of the defendant by evicting the defendant or restoring possession to the plaintiff if the residence or household is jointly owned or leased by the parties, is owned or leased by the entireties or is owned or leased solely by the plaintiff.
(3) If the defendant has a duty to support the plaintiff or minor children living in the residence or household and the defendant is the sole owner or lessee, granting possession to the plaintiff of the residence or household to the exclusion of the defendant by evicting the defendant or restoring possession to the plaintiff or, with the consent of the plaintiff, ordering the defendant to provide suitable alternate housing.
(4) Awarding temporary custody of or establishing temporary visitation rights with regard to minor children. In determining whether to award temporary custody or establish temporary visitation rights pursuant to this paragraph, the court shall consider any risk posed by the defendant to the children as well as risk to the plaintiff. The following shall apply:
(i) A defendant shall not be granted custody, partial custody or unsupervised visitation where it is alleged in the petition, and the court finds after a hearing under this chapter, that the defendant:
(A) abused the minor children of the parties or poses a risk of abuse toward the minor children of the parties; or
(B) has been convicted of violating 18 Pa.C.S. § 2904 (relating to interference with custody of children) within two calendar years prior to the filing of the petition for protection order or that the defendant poses a risk of violating 18 Pa.C.S. § 2904.
(ii) Where the court finds after a hearing under this chapter that the defendant has inflicted abuse upon the plaintiff or a child, the court may require supervised custodial access by a third party. The third party must agree to be accountable to the court for supervision and execute an affidavit of accountability.

(iii) Where the court finds after a hearing under this chapter that the defendant has inflicted serious abuse upon the plaintiff or a child or poses a risk of abuse toward the plaintiff or a child, the court may:

(A) award supervised visitation in a secure visitation facility; or

(B) deny the defendant custodial access to a child.

(iv) If a plaintiff petitions for a temporary order under section 6107(b) (relating to hearings) and the defendant has partial, shared or full custody of the minor children of the parties by order of court or written agreement of the parties, the custody shall not be disturbed or changed unless the court finds that the defendant is likely to inflict abuse upon the children or to remove the children from the jurisdiction of the court prior to the hearing under section 6107(a). Where the defendant has forcibly or fraudulently removed any minor child from the care and custody of a plaintiff, the court shall order the return of the child to the plaintiff unless the child would be endangered by restoration to the plaintiff.

(v) Nothing in this paragraph shall bar either party from filing a petition for custody under Chapter 53 (relating to custody) or under the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure.

(vi) In order to prevent further abuse during periods of access to the plaintiff and child during the exercise of custodial rights, the court shall consider, and may impose on a custody award, conditions necessary to assure the safety of the plaintiff and minor children from abuse.

(5) After a hearing in accordance with section 6107(a), directing the defendant to pay financial support to those persons the defendant has a duty to support, requiring the defendant, under sections 4324 (relating to inclusion of medical support) and 4326 (relating to mandatory inclusion of child medical support), to provide health coverage for the minor child and spouse, directing the defendant to pay all of the unreimbursed medical expenses of a spouse or minor child of the defendant to the provider or to the plaintiff when he or she has paid for the medical treatment, and directing the defendant to make or continue to make rent or mortgage payments on the residence of the plaintiff to the extent that the defendant has a duty to support the plaintiff or other dependent household members. The support order shall be temporary, and any beneficiary of the order must file a complaint for support under the provisions of Chapters 43 (relating to support matters generally) and 45 (relating to reciprocal enforcement of support orders) within two weeks of the date of the issuance of the protection order. If a complaint for support is not filed, that portion of the protection order requiring the defendant to pay support is void. When there is a subsequent ruling on a complaint for support, the portion of the protection order requiring the defendant to pay support expires.

(6) Prohibiting the defendant from having any contact with the plaintiff or minor children, including, but not limited to, restraining the defendant from entering the place of employment or business or school of the plaintiff or minor children and from harassing the plaintiff or plaintiff's relatives or minor children.

(7) Ordering the defendant to temporarily relinquish to the sheriff the defendant's other weapons and ammunition which have been used or been threatened to be used in an incident of abuse against the plaintiff or the minor children and the defendant's firearms and prohibiting the defendant from acquiring or possessing any firearm for the duration of the order and requiring the defendant to relinquish to the sheriff any firearm license, issued under section 6108.3 (relating to relinquishment to third party for safekeeping) or 18 Pa.C.S. § 6106 (relating to firearms not to be carried without a license) or 6109 (relating to licenses) the defendant may possess. A copy of the court's order shall be transmitted to the chief or head of the police force or police department of the municipality and to the sheriff of the county of which the defendant is a resident. When relinquishment is ordered, the following shall apply:


(i)(A) The court's order shall require the defendant to relinquish such firearms, other weapons, ammunition and any firearm license pursuant to the provisions of this chapter within 24 hours of service of a temporary order or the entry of a final order or the close of the next business day as necessary by closure of the sheriffs' offices, except for cause shown at the hearing, in which case the court shall specify the time for relinquishment of any or all of the defendant's firearms.

(B) A defendant subject to a temporary order requiring the relinquishment of firearms, other weapons or ammunition shall, in lieu of relinquishing specific firearms, other weapons or ammunition which cannot reasonably be retrieved within the time for relinquishment in clause (A) due to their current location, provide the sheriff with an affidavit listing the firearms, other weapons or ammunition and their current location. If the defendant, within the time for relinquishment in clause (A), fails to provide the affidavit or fails to relinquish, pursuant to this chapter, any firearms, other weapons or ammunition ordered to be relinquished which are not specified in the affidavit, the sheriff shall, at a minimum, provide immediate notice to the court, the plaintiff and appropriate law enforcement authorities. The defendant shall not possess any firearms, other weapons or ammunition specifically listed in the affidavit provided to the sheriff pursuant to this clause for the duration of the temporary order.

(C) As used in this subparagraph, the term "cause" shall be limited to facts relating to the inability of the defendant to retrieve a specific firearm within 24 hours due to the current location of the firearm.

(ii) The court's order shall contain a list of any firearm, other weapon or ammunition ordered relinquished. Upon the entry of a final order, the defendant shall inform the court in what manner the defendant is going to relinquish any firearm, other weapon or ammunition ordered relinquished. Relinquishment may occur pursuant to section 6108.2 (relating to relinquishment for consignment sale, lawful transfer or safekeeping) or 6108.3 or to the sheriff pursuant to this paragraph. Where the sheriff is designated, the sheriff shall secure custody of the defendant's firearms, other weapons or ammunition and any firearm license listed in the court's order for the duration of the order or until otherwise directed by court order. In securing custody of the defendant's relinquished firearms, the sheriff shall comply with 18 Pa.C.S. § 6105(f)(4) (relating to persons not to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms). In securing custody of the defendant's other weapons and ammunition, the sheriff shall provide the defendant with a signed and dated written receipt which shall include a detailed description of the other weapon or ammunition and its condition.

(iii) The sheriff shall provide the plaintiff with the name of the person to which any firearm, other weapon or ammunition was relinquished.

(iv) Unless the defendant has complied with subparagraph (i)(B) or section 6108.2 or 6108.3, if the defendant fails to relinquish any firearm, other weapon, ammunition or firearm license within 24 hours or upon the close of the next business day due to closure of sheriffs' offices or within the time ordered by the court upon cause being shown at the hearing, the sheriff shall, at a minimum, provide immediate notice to the court, the plaintiff and appropriate law enforcement agencies.

(v) Any portion of any order or any petition or other paper which includes a list of any firearm, other weapon or ammunition ordered relinquished shall be kept in the files of the court as a permanent record thereof and withheld from public inspection except:

(A) upon an order of the court granted upon cause shown;

(B) as necessary, by law enforcement and court personnel; or

(C) after redaction of information listing any firearm, other weapon or ammunition.

(vi) As used in this paragraph, the term "defendant's firearms" shall, if the defendant is a licensed firearms dealer, only include firearms in the defendant's personal firearms collection pursuant to 27 CFR § 478.125a (relating to personal firearms collection).

(7.1) If the defendant is a licensed firearms dealer, ordering the defendant to follow such restrictions as the court may require concerning the conduct of his business, which may include ordering the defendant to relinquish any Federal or State license for the sale, manufacture or importation of firearms as well as firearms in the defendant's business inventory. In restricting the defendant pursuant to this paragraph, the court shall make a reasonable effort to preserve the financial assets of the defendant's business while fulfilling the goals of this chapter.

(8) Directing the defendant to pay the plaintiff for reasonable losses suffered as a result of the abuse, including medical, dental, relocation and moving expenses; counseling; loss of earnings or support; costs of repair or replacement of real or personal property damaged, destroyed or taken by the defendant or at the direction of the defendant; and other out-of-pocket losses for injuries sustained. In addition to out-of-pocket losses, the court may direct the defendant to pay reasonable attorney fees. An award under this chapter shall not constitute a bar to litigation for civil damages for injuries sustained from the acts of abuse giving rise to the award or a finding of contempt under this chapter.

(9) Directing the defendant to refrain from stalking or harassing the plaintiff and other designated persons as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. §§ 2709 (relating to harassment) and 2709.1 (relating to stalking).

(10) Granting any other appropriate relief sought by the plaintiff.

(b) Identifying information.--Any order issued under this section shall, where furnished by either party, specify the Social Security number and date of birth of the defendant.

(c) Mutual orders of protection.--Mutual orders of protection shall not be awarded unless both parties have filed timely written petitions, complied with service requirements under section 6106 (relating to commencement of proceedings) and are eligible for protection under this chapter. The court shall make separate findings and, where issuing orders on behalf of both petitioners, enter separate orders.

(d) Duration and amendment of order or agreement.--
A protection order or approved consent agreement shall be for a fixed period of time not to exceed three years. The court may amend its order or agreement at any time upon subsequent petition filed by either party.

(e) Extension of protection orders.--

(1) An extension of a protection order may be granted:

(i) Where the court finds, after a duly filed petition, notice to the defendant and a hearing, in accordance with the procedures set forth in sections 6106 and 6107, that the defendant committed one or more acts of abuse subsequent to the entry of the final order or that the defendant engaged in a pattern or practice that indicates continued risk of harm to the plaintiff or minor child.

(ii) When a contempt petition or charge has been filed with the court or with a hearing officer in Philadelphia County, but the hearing has not occurred before the expiration of the protection order, the order shall be extended, at a minimum, until the disposition of the contempt petition and may be extended for another term beyond the disposition of the contempt petition.

(2) Service of an extended order shall be made in accordance with section 6109 (relating to service of orders).

(3) There shall be no limitation on the number of extensions that may be granted.

(f) Support procedure.--The domestic relations section shall enforce any support award in a protection order where the plaintiff files a complaint for support under subsection (a)(5).

(g) Notice.--Notice shall be given to the defendant, in orders issued under this section, stating that violations of an order will subject the defendant to arrest under section 6113 (relating to arrest for violation of order) or contempt of court under section 6114 (relating to contempt for violation of order or agreement). Resumption of coresidency on the part of the plaintiff and defendant shall not nullify the provisions of the court order.

(h) Title to real property unaffected.--No order or agreement under this chapter shall in any manner affect title to any real property.

6108.1. Return of relinquished firearms, other weapons and ammunition and additional relief

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--Any court order requiring the relinquishment of firearms, other weapons or ammunition shall provide for the return of the relinquished firearms, other weapons or ammunition to the defendant upon expiration of the order or dismissal of a petition for a protection from abuse order. The defendant may take custody of the firearms, other weapons and ammunition provided that the defendant is otherwise eligible to lawfully possess the relinquished items. The defendant shall not be required to pay any fees, costs or charges associated with the returns, whether those fees, costs or charges are imposed by the Pennsylvania State Police, any local law enforcement agency or any other entity, including a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer or licensed dealer in order to secure return of the relinquished firearms, other weapons or ammunition.

(b) Modification of court's order providing for return of relinquished firearm, other weapon or ammunition.--

(1) The defendant may petition the court to allow for the return of firearms, other weapons and ammunition to the defendant prior to the expiration of the court's order. The petition shall be served upon the plaintiff and the plaintiff shall be a party to the proceedings regarding that petition.
(2) Any other person may petition the court to allow for the return of that other person's firearms, other weapons and ammunition prior to the expiration of the court's order. The petition shall be served upon the plaintiff, and the plaintiff shall be given notice and an opportunity to be heard regarding that petition.

(c) Modification of court's order to provide for alternative means of relinquishing firearms, other weapons or ammunition.--The defendant may petition the court for modification of the order to provide for an alternative means of relinquishment in accordance with this chapter. The petition shall be served upon the plaintiff, and the plaintiff shall have an opportunity to be heard at the hearing as provided in subsection (d). Where the court orders a modification pursuant to this subsection providing for alternative means of relinquishment, the sheriff shall proceed as directed by the court.

(d) Hearing.--Within ten business days of the filing of any petition under this section, a hearing shall be held before the court.

(e) Definitions.--As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:

"Other person." Any person, except the defendant, who is the lawful owner of a firearm, other weapon or ammunition relinquished pursuant to this chapter.

"Safekeeping." The secure custody of a firearm, other weapon or ammunition ordered relinquished by an active protection from abuse order.

6108.2. Relinquishment for consignment sale, lawful transfer or safekeeping

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a defendant who is the subject of a final protection from abuse order, which order provides for the relinquishment of firearms, other weapons or ammunition during the period of time the order is in effect may, within the time frame specified in the order and in lieu of relinquishment to the sheriff, relinquish to a dealer licensed pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. § 6113 (relating to licensing of dealers) any firearms, other weapons or ammunition for consignment sale, lawful transfer or safekeeping.

(b) Affidavit.--A defendant relinquishing firearms, other weapons or ammunition to a dealer pursuant to subsection (a) shall obtain an affidavit from the dealer on a form prescribed by the Pennsylvania State Police which shall include, at a minimum, the following:

(1) The caption of the case in which the protection from abuse order was issued.
(2) The name, address, date of birth and Social Security number of the defendant.
(3) A list of the firearms, other weapons or ammunition, including, if applicable, the manufacturer, model and serial number.
(4) The name and license number of the dealer licensed pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. § 6113 and the address of the licensed premises.
(5) An acknowledgment that the firearms, other weapons or ammunition will not be returned to the defendant or sold or transferred to a person the dealer knows is a member of the defendant's household, while the defendant is the subject of an active protection from abuse order pursuant to section 6108, which order provides for the relinquishment of the firearm, other weapon or ammunition being returned, sold or transferred.
(6) An acknowledgment that the firearms, other weapons or ammunition, if sold or transferred, will be sold or lawfully transferred in compliance with 18 Pa.C.S. Ch. 61 (relating to firearms and other dangerous articles).

(c) Failure to provide affidavit.--A defendant relinquishing firearms, other weapons or ammunition to a dealer pursuant to subsection (a) shall, within the time frame specified in the order for relinquishing firearms, other weapons or ammunition, provide to the sheriff the affidavit obtained pursuant to subsection (b) and relinquish to the sheriff any firearms, other weapons or ammunition ordered to be relinquished which are not specified in the affidavit, in an affidavit provided in accordance with section 6108(a)(7)(i)(B) (relating to relief) or in an acknowledgment of receipt from a third party provided to the sheriff pursuant to section 6108.3 (relating to relinquishment to third party for safekeeping). If the defendant fails to comply with this subsection, the sheriff shall, at a minimum, provide immediate notice to the court, the plaintiff and appropriate law enforcement agencies.

(d) Form.--The Pennsylvania State Police shall develop and make available a form to be used by dealers to accept possession of firearms, other weapons and ammunition for consignment sale, lawful transfer or safekeeping pursuant to this section.

(e) Transfer upon entry of final order.--Upon entry of a final protection from abuse order issued pursuant to section 6108, which order provides for the relinquishment of firearms, other weapons or ammunition during the period of time the order is in effect, a defendant who had relinquished firearms, other weapons or ammunition to the sheriff pursuant to a temporary order may request that the firearms, other weapons or ammunition be relinquished to a dealer for consignment sale, lawful transfer or safekeeping pursuant to this section. If the defendant can identify a licensed dealer willing to accept the firearms, other weapons or ammunition in compliance with this section, the court shall order the sheriff to transport the firearms, other weapons or ammunition to the licensed dealer at no cost to the defendant or the licensed dealer.

(f) Nondisclosure.--The affidavit obtained under subsection (c) shall not be subject to access under the act of June 21, 1957 (P.L. 390, No. 212), [FN1] referred to as the Right-to-Know Law.

(g) Definitions.--As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:

"Safekeeping." The secure custody of firearms, other weapons or ammunition ordered relinquished by an active protection from abuse order.

"Sale or lawful transfer." Any sale or transfer to a person other than the defendant or a member of the defendant's household which is conducted in accordance with 18 Pa.C.S. Ch. 61 (relating to firearms and other dangerous articles).

6108.3. Relinquishment to third party for safekeeping

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--A defendant who is the subject of a protection from abuse order, which order provides for the relinquishment of firearms, other weapons or ammunition during the period of time the order is in effect, may, within the time frame specified in the order and in lieu of relinquishment to the sheriff, relinquish any firearms, other weapons or ammunition to a third party for safekeeping.

(b) Transfer to third party.

(1) A defendant wishing to relinquish firearms, other weapons or ammunition to a third party pursuant to subsection (a) shall, within the time frame specified in the order for relinquishing firearms, other weapons and ammunition, report to the sheriff's office in the county where the order was entered along with the third party.

(2) Upon determination by the sheriff that the third party is not prohibited from possessing firearms, other weapons or ammunition pursuant to any Federal or State law and after the defendant and third party have executed the affidavits required under paragraph (3), the sheriff shall issue a safekeeping permit to the third party, which shall include, at a minimum, a list of the firearms, other weapons and ammunition which will be relinquished to the third party. The permit shall be issued at no cost to the third party or defendant. The permit shall require the third party to possess the defendant's firearms, other weapons and ammunition until the time that:
(i) the sheriff revokes the safekeeping permit pursuant to subsection (c)(1); or
(ii) the sheriff accepts return of the safekeeping permit pursuant to subsection (d).
(3)(i) A defendant wishing to relinquish firearms, other weapons or ammunition to a third party pursuant to subsection (a) shall, in the presence of the sheriff or the sheriff's designee, execute an affidavit on a form prescribed by the Pennsylvania State Police which shall include, at a minimum, the following:
(A) The caption of the case in which the protection from abuse order was issued.
(B) The name, address, date of birth and the Social Security number of the defendant.
(C) The name, address and date of birth of the third party.
(D) A list of the firearms, other weapons and ammunition which will be relinquished to the third party, including, if applicable, the manufacturer, model and serial number.
(E) An acknowledgment that the defendant will not take possession of any firearm, other weapon or ammunition relinquished to the third party until the sheriff accepts return of the safekeeping permit pursuant to subsection (d).
(F) A plain-language summary of 18 Pa.C.S. § 6105(a.1)(2) and (c)(6) (relating to persons not to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms).
(G) A plain-language summary of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8) (relating to unlawful acts).
(ii) A third party who will be accepting possession of firearms, other weapons and ammunition pursuant to subsection (a) shall, in the presence of the sheriff or the sheriff's designee, execute an affidavit on a form prescribed by the Pennsylvania State Police which shall include, at a minimum, the following:
(A) The caption of the case in which the protection from abuse order was issued.
(B) The name, address and date of birth of the defendant.
(C) The name, address, date of birth and the Social Security number of the third party.
(D) A list of the firearms, other weapons and ammunition which will be relinquished to the third party, including, if applicable, the manufacturer, model and serial number.
(E) An acknowledgment that no firearm, other weapon or ammunition relinquished to the third party will be returned to the defendant until the sheriff accepts return of the safekeeping permit pursuant to subsection (d).
(F) A plain-language summary of 18 Pa.C.S. §§ 6105(a.1)(5) and (c)(6), 6111(c) (relating to sale or transfer of firearms) and 6115 (relating to loans on, or lending or giving firearms prohibited).
(G) A plain-language summary of this section.
(H) An acknowledgment that the third party is not prohibited from possessing firearms, other weapons or ammunition pursuant to any Federal or State law.
(I) An acknowledgment that the third party is not subject to an active protection from abuse order.
(J) An acknowledgment that the defendant has never been the subject of a protection from abuse order issued on behalf of the third party.
(K) An acknowledgment that any firearms, other weapons and ammunition relinquished to the third party will be stored using a locking device as defined in paragraph (1) of the definition of "locking device" in 18 Pa.C.S. § 6142(f) (relating to locking device for firearms) or in a secure location to which the defendant does not have access.
(L) A detailed description of the third party liability pursuant to this section relating to civil liability.
(M) An acknowledgment that the third party shall inform the sheriff of any change of address for the third party within seven days of the change of address.
(4) The defendant shall, within the time frame specified in the order and in lieu of relinquishment to the sheriff, relinquish the firearms, other weapons and ammunition specified in the affidavits provided to the sheriff pursuant to paragraph (3) to the third party who has been issued a safekeeping permit pursuant to paragraph (2). Upon relinquishment of the firearms to the third party, the third party shall sign an acknowledgment of receipt on a form prescribed by the Pennsylvania State Police, which shall include, at a minimum, an acknowledgment that the firearms were relinquished to the third party within the time frame specified in the order.
(5) Within 24 hours of the issuance of the safekeeping permit issued to the third party pursuant to paragraph (2) or by close of the next business day as necessary due to the closure of the sheriff's office, the defendant shall return the signed acknowledgment of receipt required under paragraph (4) to the sheriff in the county where the order was entered.

(6) If the defendant fails to provide the acknowledgment of receipt to the sheriff as required under paragraph (5), an affidavit prepared in accordance with section 6108(a)(7)(i)(B) (relating to relief), an affidavit under section 6108.2 (relating to relinquishment for consignment sale, lawful transfer or safekeeping) or fails to relinquish any firearms, other weapons or ammunition, the sheriff shall, at a minimum, provide immediate notice to the court, the plaintiff and appropriate law enforcement agencies.

(c) Revocation of safekeeping permit.--

(1) The sheriff shall revoke a third party's safekeeping permit and require the third party to relinquish to the sheriff any firearms, other weapons or ammunition which were relinquished to the third party by a defendant pursuant to subsection (a) upon determining or being notified that any of the following apply:
(i) A protection from abuse order has been entered against the third party.
(ii) The third party is prohibited from possessing firearms, other weapons or ammunition pursuant to any Federal or State law.
(iii) The defendant has been convicted of a violation of 18 Pa.C.S. Ch. 61 (relating to firearms and other dangerous articles) or any other offense involving the use of a firearm.
(iv) The defendant has been held in indirect criminal contempt for violating a provision of the protection from abuse order consistent with section 6108(a)(1), (2), (6), (7) or (9) (relating to relief).
(2) Upon revocation of a safekeeping permit, the sheriff shall seize the safekeeping permit and all of the defendant's firearms, other weapons and ammunition which were relinquished to the third party. If revocation of the safekeeping permit was:
(i) Required pursuant to paragraph (1)(i) or (ii), the sheriff shall notify the defendant that the firearms, other weapons and ammunition which were relinquished to the third party are in the sheriff's possession and that the defendant may report to the sheriff's office in order to relinquish the firearms, other weapons and ammunition to a subsequent third party pursuant to this section or to a licensed dealer pursuant to section 6108.2.
(ii) Required pursuant to paragraph (1)(iii) or (iv), the sheriff shall maintain possession of the firearms, other weapons and ammunition until the defendant is no longer prohibited from possessing firearms, other weapons and ammunition pursuant to any Federal or State law unless:
(A) the defendant has the firearms, other weapons and ammunition relinquished to a licensed dealer pursuant to section 6108.2; or
(B) the sheriff is directed to relinquish the firearms, other weapons and ammunition pursuant to a court order.

(d) Return of safekeeping permit.--

(1) Following expiration of a protection from abuse order, which order provided for the relinquishment of firearms, other weapons or ammunition, the defendant and the third party shall report to the sheriff's office to return the safekeeping permit. Upon a determination by the sheriff that the defendant is:
(i) Not prohibited from possessing firearms, other weapons and ammunition, the sheriff shall accept the return of the safekeeping permit, and the third party shall relinquish to the defendant all of the defendant's firearms, other weapons and ammunition which were relinquished to the third party pursuant to this section.
(ii) Prohibited from possessing a firearm, other weapon or ammunition pursuant to any Federal or State law, the sheriff shall accept return of the permit and seize from the third party all of the defendant's firearms, other weapons and ammunition which were relinquished to the third party pursuant to this section. The sheriff shall return to the defendant any firearm, other weapon or ammunition which the defendant is lawfully entitled to possess.
(2) Upon issuance of a court order pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. § 6105(f)(2) or section 6108.1(b) (relating to return of relinquished firearms, other weapons and ammunition and additional relief) which modifies a valid protection from abuse order by allowing the defendant to take possession of a firearm, other weapon or ammunition that had previously been ordered relinquished, the defendant and the third party shall report to the sheriff's office to return the safekeeping permit. The sheriff shall proceed as directed by the court order.
(3) If a third party wishes to relinquish the defendant's firearms, other weapons and ammunition prior to return of the safekeeping permit pursuant to paragraph (1), the sheriff shall accept return of the safekeeping permit and shall seize all of the defendant's firearms, other weapons and ammunition from the third party. The sheriff shall notify the defendant that the firearms, other weapons and ammunition which were relinquished to the third party are in the sheriff's possession and that the defendant may relinquish the firearms, other weapons and ammunition to a subsequent third party pursuant to this section or to a licensed dealer pursuant to section 6108.2.

(e) Civil liability.--A third party who intentionally or knowingly violates any of the provisions of this section shall, in addition to any other penalty prescribed in this chapter or 18 Pa.C.S. Ch. 61, be civilly liable to any person for any damages caused thereby and, in addition, shall be liable to any person for punitive damages in an amount not to exceed $5,000, and the court shall award a prevailing plaintiff a reasonable attorney fee as part of the costs.

(f) Forms.--The Pennsylvania State Police shall develop and make available:

(1) Forms to be used by sheriffs to issue safekeeping permits pursuant to subsection (b)(2).

(2) Affidavit forms and receipt forms to be used by defendants and third parties as required under subsection (b)(3) and (4).
(g) Transfer upon final entry.--
A defendant who has previously relinquished firearms, other weapons or ammunition to the sheriff pursuant to a temporary order shall be permitted to have the firearms, other weapons and ammunition relinquished to a third party pursuant to this section following entry of a final protection from abuse order, which order provides for the relinquishment of firearms, other weapons or ammunition during the period of time the order is in effect.

(h) Nondisclosure.--All copies of the safekeeping permit issued under subsection (b)(2) retained by the sheriff and the affidavits and forms obtained under subsection (b)(3) and (4) shall not be subject to access under the act of June 21, 1957 (P.L. 390, No. 212), [FN1] referred to as the Right-to-Know Law.

(i) Definitions.--As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:

"Safekeeping." The secure custody of firearms, other weapons or ammunition which were ordered relinquished by an active protection from abuse order.

"Third party." A person, other than the defendant, who:

(1) Is not a member of the defendant's household.
(2) Is not prohibited from possessing firearms pursuant to any Federal or State law.


6108.4. Registry or database of firearm ownership

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Confidentiality.--Information retained to ensure compliance with this chapter and to document the return of firearms shall not be subject to access under the act of June 21, 1957 (P.L. 390, No. 212), [FN1] referred to as the Right-to-Know Law.

(b) Construction.--Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to allow a government agency or law enforcement agency, or an agent or employee of either, or any other person or entity to create, maintain or operate a database or registry of firearm ownership within this Commonwealth. However, information may be retained to ensure compliance with this chapter and to document the return of firearms.

6108.5. Penalties for release of information

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Any person who violates section 6108(a)(7)(v) (relating to relief) by releasing information with the intent and purpose of committing such violation commits a misdemeanor of the third degree.

6109. Service of orders

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Issuance.--A copy of an order under this chapter shall be issued to the plaintiff, the defendant and the police department with appropriate jurisdiction to enforce the order or agreement in accordance with the provisions of this chapter or as ordered by the court or hearing officer.

(b) Placement in registry.--Upon receipt of an order, the police department shall immediately place the order in a county registry of protection orders. The police department shall assure that the registry is current at all times and that orders are removed upon expiration thereof. County registries shall not be required when the Pennsylvania State Police registry provided for in section 6105(e) (relating to responsibilities of law enforcement agencies) is established and is fully operational.

6110. Emergency relief by minor judiciary

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--When:

(1) in counties with less than four judges, the court is unavailable:
(i) from the close of business at the end of each day to the resumption of business the next morning;
(ii) from the end of the business week to the beginning of the business week; and
(iii) during the business day by reason of duties outside the county, illness or vacation;
(2) in counties with at least four judges, the court is unavailable:
(i) from the close of business at the end of each day to the resumption of business the next morning; and
(ii) from the end of the business week to the beginning of the business week;


a petition may be filed before a hearing officer who may grant relief in accordance with section 6108(a)(1), (2) and (6) or (1) and (6) (relating to relief) if the hearing officer deems it necessary to protect the plaintiff or minor children from abuse upon good cause shown in an ex parte proceeding. Immediate and present danger of abuse to the plaintiff or minor children shall constitute good cause for the purposes of this subsection.

(b) Expiration of order.--An order issued under subsection (a) shall expire at the end of the next business day the court deems itself available. The court shall schedule hearings on protection orders entered by hearing officers under subsection (a) and shall review and continue in effect protection orders that are necessary to protect the plaintiff or minor children from abuse until the hearing, at which time the plaintiff may seek a temporary order from the court.

(c) Certification of order to court.--An emergency order issued under this section and any documentation in support thereof shall be immediately certified to the court. The certification to the court shall have the effect of commencing proceedings under section 6106 (relating to commencement of proceedings) and invoking the other provisions of this chapter. If it is not already alleged in a petition for an emergency order, the plaintiff shall file a verified statement setting forth the abuse of defendant at least five days prior to the hearing. Service of the verified statement shall be made subject to section 6106.

(d) Instructions regarding the commencement of proceedings.--Upon issuance of an emergency order, the hearing officer shall provide the plaintiff instructions regarding the commencement of proceedings in the court of common pleas at the beginning of the next business day and regarding the procedures for initiating a contempt charge should the defendant violate the emergency order. The hearing officer shall also advise the plaintiff of the existence of programs for victims of domestic violence in the county or in nearby counties and inform the plaintiff of the availability of legal assistance without cost if the plaintiff is unable to pay for them.

(e) Master for emergency relief.--The president judge of a court of common pleas of a judicial district may, with the approval of the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, provide for the selection and appointment of a master for emergency relief on a full-time or part-time basis. The number of masters for emergency relief shall be fixed by the president judge with the approval of the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. The compensation of a master for emergency relief shall be fixed and paid by the county.

6111. Domestic violence counselor/advocate

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

A domestic violence counselor/advocate may accompany a party to any legal proceeding or hearing under this chapter.

6112. Disclosure of addresses

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

During the course of a proceeding under this chapter, the court or hearing officer may consider whether the plaintiff or plaintiff's family is endangered by disclosure of the permanent or temporary address of the plaintiff or minor children. Neither in the pleadings nor during proceedings or hearings under this chapter shall the court or hearing officer require disclosure of the address of a domestic violence program. Where the court concludes that the defendant poses a threat of continued danger to the plaintiff and where the plaintiff requests that his or her address, telephone number and information about whereabouts not be disclosed, the court shall enter an order directing that law enforcement agencies, human service agencies and school districts (both in which a plaintiff's child in custody of the plaintiff is or has been enrolled) shall not disclose the presence of the plaintiff or the child in the jurisdiction or district or furnish any address, telephone number or any other demographic information about the plaintiff and child except by further order of the court.

6113. Arrest for violation of order

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--An arrest for violation of an order issued pursuant to this chapter or a foreign protection order may be without warrant upon probable cause whether or not the violation is committed in the presence of the police officer or sheriff in circumstances where the defendant has violated a provision of an order consistent with section 6108(a)(1), (2), (3) , (4), (6), (7) or (9) (relating to relief). The police officer or sheriff may verify the existence of a protection order by telephone, radio or other electronic communication with the appropriate police department, Pennsylvania State Police registry, protection order file or issuing authority. A police officer or sheriff shall arrest a defendant for violating an order issued under this chapter by a court within the judicial district, issued by a court in another judicial district within this Commonwealth or a foreign protection order issued by a comparable court.

(b) Seizure of firearms, other weapons and ammunition.--Subsequent to an arrest, the police officer or sheriff shall seize all firearms, other weapons and ammunition used or threatened to be used during the violation of the protection order or during prior incidents of abuse and any other firearms in the defendant's possession. As soon as it is reasonably possible, the arresting officer shall deliver the confiscated firearms, other weapons and ammunition to the office of the sheriff. The sheriff shall maintain possession of the firearms, other weapons and ammunition until the court issues an order specifying the firearms, other weapons and ammunition to be relinquished and the persons to whom the firearms, other weapons and ammunition shall be relinquished.

(c) Procedure following arrest.--Subsequent to an arrest, the defendant shall be taken by the police officer or sheriff without unnecessary delay before the court in the judicial district where the contempt is alleged to have occurred. When that court is unavailable, the police officer or sheriff shall convey the defendant to a magisterial district judge designated as appropriate by local rules of court or, in the city of Pittsburgh, to a magistrate of the Pittsburgh Magistrates Court or, in counties of the first class, to the appropriate hearing officer. For purposes of procedure relating to arraignments for arrest for violation of an order issued under this chapter, the judges of Pittsburgh Magistrates Court shall be deemed to be magisterial district judges.

(d) Preliminary arraignment.--The defendant shall be afforded a preliminary arraignment without unnecessary delay.

(e) Other emergency powers unaffected.--This section shall not be construed to in any way limit any of the other powers for emergency relief provided in this chapter.

(f) Hearing.--A hearing shall be scheduled within ten days of the filing of the charge or complaint of indirect criminal contempt. The hearing and any adjudication shall not preclude a hearing on other criminal charges underlying the contempt, nor shall a hearing or adjudication on other criminal charges preclude a hearing on a charge of indirect criminal contempt.

6113.1. Private criminal complaints for violation of order or agreement

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--A plaintiff may file a private criminal complaint against a defendant, alleging indirect criminal contempt for a noneconomic violation of any provision of an order or court-approved consent agreement issued under this chapter or a foreign protection order, with the court, the office of the district attorney or the magisterial district judge in the jurisdiction or county where the violation occurred, except that, in a city of the first class, a complaint may only be filed with the family division of the court of common pleas or the office of the district attorney.

(b) Procedure service.--Procedure for filing and service of a private criminal complaint shall be provided as set forth by local rule. No fees or costs associated with the prosecution of the private criminal complaint shall be assigned to the plaintiff at any stage of the proceeding, including, but not limited to, filing, service, failure to prosecute, withdrawal or dismissal. 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) Fees and costs.--After a finding of indirect criminal contempt, fees and costs may be assessed against the defendant. The court shall waive fees and costs imposed pursuant to this chapter upon a showing of good cause or when the court makes a finding that the defendant is not able to pay the costs associated with the indirect criminal contempt action. 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.

6114. Contempt for violation of order or agreement

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--Where the police, sheriff or the plaintiff have filed charges of indirect criminal contempt against a defendant for violation of a protection order issued under this chapter, a foreign protection order or a court-approved consent agreement, the court may hold the defendant in indirect criminal contempt and punish the defendant in accordance with law.

(a.1) Jurisdiction.--A court shall have jurisdiction over indirect criminal contempt charges for violation of a protection order issued pursuant to this chapter in the county where the violation occurred and in the county where the protection order was granted. A court shall have jurisdiction over indirect criminal contempt charges for violation of a foreign protection order in the county where the violation occurred.

(a.2) Minor defendant.--Any defendant who is a minor and who is charged with indirect criminal contempt for allegedly violating a protection from abuse order shall be considered to have committed an alleged delinquent act as that term is defined in 42 Pa.C.S. § 6302 (relating to definitions) and shall be treated as provided in 42 Pa.C.S. Ch. 63 (relating to juvenile matters).

(b) Trial and punishment.--

(1) A sentence for contempt under this chapter may include:

(i)(A) a fine of not less than $300 nor more than $1,000 and imprisonment up to six months; or
(B) a fine of not less than $300 nor more than $1,000 and supervised probation not to exceed six months; and
(ii) an order for other relief set forth in this chapter.

(2) All money received under this section shall be distributed in the following order of priority:
(i) $100 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 (relating to responsibilities of law enforcement agencies).
(ii) $100 shall be retained by the county and shall be used to carry out the provisions of this chapter as follows:
(A) $50 shall be used by the sheriff.
(B) $50 shall be used by the court.
(iii) $100 shall be forwarded to the Department of Public Welfare 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), [FN1] known as The Administrative Code of 1929.
(iv) Any additional money shall be forwarded to the Commonwealth and shall be used by the Pennsylvania State Police to establish and maintain the Statewide registry of protection orders provided for in section 6105.
(3) The defendant shall not have a right to a jury trial on a charge of indirect criminal contempt. However, the defendant shall be entitled to counsel.
(4) Upon conviction for indirect criminal contempt and at the request of the plaintiff, the court shall also grant an extension of the protection order for an additional term.
(5) Upon conviction for indirect criminal contempt, the court shall notify the sheriff of the jurisdiction which issued the protection order of the conviction.

(6) The minimum fine required by subsection (b)(1) allocated pursuant to subsection (b)(2)(i) and (iii) 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.

(c) Notification upon release.--The appropriate releasing authority or other official as designated by local rule shall use all reasonable means to notify the victim sufficiently in advance of the release of the offender from any incarceration imposed under subsection (b). Notification shall be required for work release, furlough, medical leave, community service, discharge, escape and recapture. Notification shall include the terms and conditions imposed on any temporary release from custody. The plaintiff must keep the appropriate releasing authority or other official as designated by local rule advised of contact information; failure to do so will constitute waiver of any right to notification under this section.

(d) Multiple remedies.--Disposition of a charge of indirect criminal contempt shall not preclude the prosecution of other criminal charges associated with the incident giving rise to the contempt, nor shall disposition of other criminal charges preclude prosecution of indirect criminal contempt associated with the criminal conduct giving rise to the charges.

6114.1. Civil contempt or modification for violation of an order or agreement

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--A plaintiff may file a petition for civil contempt with the issuing court alleging that the defendant has violated any provision of an order or court-approved agreement issued under this chapter or a foreign protection order.

(b) Civil contempt order.--Upon finding of a violation of a protection order or court-approved consent agreement issued under this chapter or a foreign protection order, the court, either pursuant to petition for civil contempt or on its own accord, may hold the defendant in civil contempt and constrain him in accordance with law.

(c) Sentencing.--A sentence for civil contempt under this chapter may include imprisonment until the defendant complies with provisions in the order or consent agreement or demonstrates the intent to do so, but in no case shall a term of imprisonment under this section exceed a period of six months.

(d) Jury trial and counsel.--The defendant shall not have a right to a jury trial; however, the defendant shall be entitled to counsel.

6115. Reporting abuse and immunity

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) REPORTING.-- A person having reasonable cause to believe that a person is being abused may report the information to the local police department.

(b) CONTENTS OF REPORT.-- The report should contain the name and address of the abused person, information regarding the nature and extent of the abuse and information which the reporter believes may be helpful to prevent further abuse.

(c) IMMUNITY.-- A person who makes a report shall be immune from a civil or criminal liability on account of the report unless the person acted in bad faith or with malicious purpose.


6116. Confidentiality

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Unless a victim waives the privilege in a signed writing prior to testimony or disclosure, a domestic violence counselor/advocate or a coparticipant who is present during domestic violence counseling/advocacy shall not be competent nor permitted to testify or to otherwise disclose confidential communications made to or by the counselor/advocate by or to a victim. The privilege shall terminate upon the death of the victim. Neither the domestic violence counselor/advocate nor the victim shall waive the privilege of confidential communications by reporting facts of physical or sexual assault under Chapter 63 (relating to child protective services), a Federal or State mandatory reporting statute or a local mandatory reporting ordinance.


6117. Procedure and other remedies

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--Unless otherwise indicated in this chapter, a proceeding under this chapter shall be in accordance with applicable general rules and shall be in addition to any other available civil or criminal remedies. The plaintiff and the defendant may seek modification of an order issued under section 6108 (relating to relief) at any time during the pendency of an order. Except as otherwise indicated in this chapter, modification may be ordered after the filing of a petition for modification, service of the petition and a hearing on the petition.

(b) Remedies for bad faith.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law, upon finding that an individual commenced a proceeding under this chapter in bad faith, a court shall direct the individual to pay to the defendant actual damages and reasonable attorney fees. Failure to prove an allegation of abuse by a preponderance of the evidence shall not, by itself, result in a finding of bad faith.

Chapter 67 Domestic and Sexual Violence Victim Address Confidentiality

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

6705. Application and certification process

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--A person must file an application with the Office of Victim Advocate on a form prescribed by the Office of Victim Advocate. The Office of Victim Advocate shall certify eligible applicants as program participants in accordance with the procedures outlined in subsection (b). Certification shall be valid for a period of three years following the date of certification unless the certification is withdrawn or canceled before the expiration of that period.

(b) Requirements for certification.--The Office of Victim Advocate shall certify an applicant as a program participant if:

(1) The applicant meets the eligibility requirements under section 6704 (relating to persons eligible to apply).

(2) The applicant designates the Office of Victim Advocate as an agent for the purpose of receiving service of process.

(3) The application contains the applicant's actual address and telephone number where the applicant can be contacted.

(4) The application contains a list of all pending civil and criminal proceedings in which the applicant is a victim, witness, plaintiff or defendant and, if applicable, the applicant's involvement with State and county probation and parole.

(5) The application contains a statement signed by the applicant affirming that the information provided by the applicant is true to the best of the applicant's information, knowledge and belief.

(6) The application contains a statement signed by the applicant acknowledging that the applicant has a continuing duty to notify the Office of Victim Advocate of any change in the information provided to the Office of Victim Advocate in accordance with this chapter. The duty shall remain in effect for the duration of participation in the program.

(7) The application contains the date, the applicant's signature and the signature of any person who assisted in the preparation of the application.

6706. Cancellation, expiration and voluntary withdrawal

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Cancellation.--The Office of Victim Advocate shall cancel the certification of a program participant if:

(1) the program participant willingly provided false information on any portion of the application;

(2) the program participant failed to notify the Office of Victim Advocate within five days of a name change or an address change; or

(3) the program participant's mail is returned to the Office of Victim Advocate as nondeliverable.

(b) Expiration.--Certification as a program participant shall expire three years from the date on which an applicant was certified as a program participant. The Office of Victim Advocate shall send written notification of pending expiration to a program participant's last known actual address 30 days prior to the expiration of certification.

(c) Withdrawal.--A program participant may withdraw at any time by notifying the Office of Victim Advocate in writing.

(d) Effect of cancellation, expiration or withdrawal.--Notwithstanding cancellation, expiration or prior withdrawal from the program, all persons eligible to apply to become program participants may reapply for participation in the program.

Title 42. Judiciary and Judicial Procedure

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Chapter 62A. Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

62A03. Definitions

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

The following words and phrases when used in this chapter shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

“Adult.” An individual who is 18 years of age or older.

“Certified copy.” A paper copy of the original order of the issuing court endorsed by the appropriate clerk of that court or an electronic copy of the original order of the issuing court endorsed with a digital signature of the judge or appropriate clerk of that court, regardless of whether or not there is a raised seal on the copy of the order of the issuing court.

“Confidential communications.” As defined in section 5945.1 (relating to confidential communications with sexual assault counselors).

“Coparticipant.” As defined in section 5945.1 (relating to confidential communications with sexual assault counselors).

“Court.” The court or magisterial district judge having jurisdiction over the matter under and exercised as provided in this title or as otherwise provided or prescribed by law.

“Family or household members.” Spouses or persons who have been spouses, persons living as spouses or who lived as spouses, parents and children, other persons related by consanguinity or affinity, current or former sexual or intimate partners or persons who share biological parenthood.

“Hearing officer.” A magisterial district judge, judge of the Philadelphia Municipal Court, bail commissioner appointed under section 1123 (relating to jurisdiction and venue), master appointed under section 1126 (relating to masters) or master for emergency relief.

“Intimidation.” Conduct constituting a crime under either of the following provisions between persons who are not family or household members:

18 Pa.C.S. § 2709(a)(4), (5), (6) or (7) (relating to harassment) where the conduct is committed by a person 18 years of age or older against a person under 18 years of age.

18 Pa.C.S. § 2709.1 (relating to stalking) where the conduct is committed by a person 18 years of age or older against a person under 18 years of age.

“Master for emergency relief.” A member of the bar of the Commonwealth appointed under section 62A09(e) (relating to emergency relief by minor judiciary).

“Minor.” An individual who is not an adult.

“Plaintiff.” An individual who applies for a protection order, either for the benefit of that individual or on behalf of another individual.

“Protection order” or “order.” An order issued under this chapter designed to protect a victim of sexual violence or intimidation.

“Rape crisis center.” As defined in section 5945.1 (relating to confidential communications with sexual assault counselors).

“Sexual assault counselor.” As defined in section 5945.1 (relating to confidential communications with sexual assault counselors).

“Sexual violence.” Conduct constituting a crime under any of the following provisions between persons who are not family or household members:

18 Pa.C.S. Ch. 31 (relating to sexual offenses), except 18 Pa.C.S. §§ 3129 (relating to sexual intercourse with animal) and 3130 (relating to conduct relating to sex offenders).

18 Pa.C.S. § 4304 (relating to endangering welfare of children) if the offense involved sexual contact with the victim.

18 Pa.C.S. § 6301(a)(1)(ii) (relating to corruption of minors).

18 Pa.C.S. § 6312(b) (relating to sexual abuse of children).

18 Pa.C.S. § 6318 (relating to unlawful contact with minor).

18 Pa.C.S. § 6320 (relating to sexual exploitation of children).

“Sheriff.” The sheriff of a county or, in a city of the first class, the chief or head of the police department.

“Victim.” A person who is the victim of sexual violence or intimidation.

62A05. Commencement of proceedings

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--An adult or 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 a minor child, or the guardian of the person of an adult who has been declared incapacitated under 20 Pa.C.S. Ch. 55 (relating to incapacitated persons) may seek relief on behalf of an incapacitated adult, by filing a petition with the court alleging the need for protection from the defendant with respect to sexual violence or intimidation.

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

(b) No prepayment of fees.--The petition shall be filed and service shall be made without the prepayment of fees.

(c) Assessment of fees and costs.--

(1)(i) 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.

(ii) 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 under this chapter.

(2) When an order is granted under 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 fees and costs.

(3) Nothing in this section is intended to expand or diminish the court's authority to enter an order under Pa.R.C.P. No. 1023.1 (relating to Scope. Signing of Documents. Representations to the Court. Violation.).

(c.1) Surcharge on order.--When an order is granted under section 62A06 (relating to hearings), 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) Twenty-five dollars shall be forwarded to the Commonwealth and shall be used by the Pennsylvania State Police to establish and maintain the Statewide registry of protection orders provided for in section 62A04(c) (relating to responsibilities of law enforcement agencies).

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

(i) Twenty-five dollars shall be used by the sheriff.

(ii) Twenty-five dollars shall be used by the court.

(3) Twenty-five dollars shall be forwarded to the Department of Public Welfare1 for use for victims of sexual assault 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.

(4) The surcharge allocated under paragraphs (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.

(d) Service.--

(1) The court shall adopt a means of prompt and effective service. If the court so orders, the sheriff or another court-designated agency or individual shall serve the petition and protection order. Under no circumstances shall the plaintiff be obligated to serve the petition or protection order.

(2) The petition and order shall be served upon the defendant.

(3) Within two business days, the order shall be served upon the police department, sheriff and district attorney in the jurisdiction where the order was entered.

(4) A certified copy of the order shall be issued to the plaintiff.

(5) In the case of a minor victim of sexual violence, a copy of the petition and order shall be served upon the county agency and the Department of Public Welfare. For purposes of this subparagraph, the term “county agency” shall be as defined in 23 Pa.C.S. § 6303 (relating to definitions).

(6) A copy of the order shall be issued as otherwise ordered by the court or hearing officer.

(7) Failure to serve the police department, sheriff or district attorney's office shall not stay the effect of a valid order.

(e) 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 an order for an individual not represented by counsel.

(2) Provide the plaintiff with written and oral referrals, in English and Spanish, to local sexual assault services in the case of sexual violence and to the local legal services office and to the county bar association's lawyer referral service in the case of sexual violence or intimidation.

(f) Effect of departure and nonresidence.--The right of the plaintiff to relief under this chapter shall not be affected by the defendant's absence from this Commonwealth or the defendant's nonresidence in this Commonwealth, provided that the court has personal jurisdiction over the defendant in accordance with section 5322 (relating to bases of personal jurisdiction over persons outside this Commonwealth).

62A06. Hearings

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--Within ten business days of the filing of a petition under this chapter, a hearing shall be held before the court where the plaintiff must:

(1) assert that the plaintiff or another individual, as appropriate, is a victim of sexual violence or intimidation committed by the defendant; and

(2) prove by preponderance of the evidence that the plaintiff or another individual, as appropriate, is at a continued risk of harm from the defendant.

(a.1) Right to counsel.--The court shall, at the time the defendant is given notice of the hearing, advise the defendant of the right to be represented by counsel. The notice shall be printed and delivered in a manner that easily attracts attention to its contents.

(b) Temporary orders.--If a plaintiff seeks a temporary order for protection from an immediate and present danger, the court shall conduct an ex parte proceeding. The court may enter a temporary order as it deems necessary to protect the plaintiff or another individual, as appropriate, when it finds the plaintiff or another individual is in immediate and present danger from the defendant. The temporary order shall remain in effect until modified or terminated by the court after notice and hearing.

(c) Continued hearings.--If a hearing under subsection (a) is continued and no temporary order is issued, the court may make ex parte temporary orders under subsection (b), as it deems necessary.

62A07. Relief

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Order or consent agreement.--The court may issue an order or approve a consent agreement to protect the plaintiff or another individual, as appropriate, from the defendant.

(b) General rule.--An order or a consent agreement may include:

(1) Prohibiting the defendant from having any contact with the victim, including, but not limited to, restraining the defendant from entering the victim's residence, place of employment, business or school.This may include prohibiting indirect contact through third parties and also prohibiting direct or indirect contact with other designated persons.

(2) Granting any other appropriate relief sought by the plaintiff.

(c) Duration and amendment of order or agreement.--A protection order or an approved consent agreement shall be for a fixed period of time not to exceed 36 months. The court may amend its order or agreement at any time upon subsequent petition filed by either party.

(d) Extension of protection orders.--

(1) An extension of an order may be granted:

(i) Where the court, after a duly filed petition, notice to the defendant and a hearing, in accordance with the procedures set forth in sections 62A05 (relating to commencement of proceedings) and 62A06 (relating to hearings), finds that the extension is necessary because the defendant engaged in one or more acts or finds some other circumstances that, in the discretion of the court, demonstrate a continued risk of harm to the victim.

(ii) When a contempt petition or charge has been filed with the court or, in a county of the first class, a hearing officer, but the hearing has not occurred before the expiration of the protection order, the order shall be extended, at a minimum, until the disposition of the contempt petition.

(2) Service of an extended order shall be made in accordance with section 62A05(d).

(3) There shall be no limitation on the number of extensions that may be granted.

(e) Notice.--Notice shall be given to the defendant stating that violations of the order will subject the defendant to arrest under section 62A12 (relating to arrest for violation of order) or contempt of court under section 62A14 (relating to contempt for violation of order).

(f) Incarceration.--When the defendant is or was incarcerated and will be released from custody in the next 90 days or has been released from custody within the past 90 days, a plaintiff does not need to show that the defendant engaged in one or more acts that indicate a continued risk of harm to the victim in order to obtain an extension or a subsequent protection order under this chapter.

(g) Identifying information.--Any order issued under this chapter shall, when furnished by either party, specify the Social Security number and date of birth of the defendant.

62A09. Emergency relief by minor juidicary

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--When:

(1) in counties with fewer than four judges, the court is unavailable:

(i) from the close of business at the end of each day to the resumption of business the next morning;

(ii) from the end of the business week to the beginning of the business week; and

(iii) during the business day by reason of duties outside the county, illness or vacation; or

(2) in counties with at least four judges, the court is unavailable:

(i) from the close of business at the end of each day to the resumption of business the next morning; and

(ii) from the end of the business week to the beginning of the business week;

a petition may be filed before a hearing officer who may grant relief in accordance with section 62A07 (relating to relief) if the hearing officer deems it necessary to protect the victim upon good cause shown in an ex parte proceeding. Immediate and present danger posed by the defendant to the victim shall constitute good cause for the purposes of this subsection.

(b) Expiration of order.--An order issued under subsection (a) shall expire at the end of the next business day the court deems itself available. The court shall schedule hearings on orders entered by hearing officers under subsection (a) and shall review and continue in effect orders that are necessary to protect the plaintiff or another individual, as appropriate, until the hearing, at which time the plaintiff may seek a temporary order from the court.

(c) Certification of order to court.--An emergency order issued under this section and any documentation in support thereof shall be immediately certified to the court. The certification to the court shall have the effect of commencing proceedings under section 62A05 (relating to commencement of proceedings) and invoking the other provisions of this chapter. If it is not already alleged in a petition for an emergency order, the plaintiff shall file a verified statement setting forth the reasons for the need for protection at least five days prior to the hearing. Service of the verified statement shall be made subject to section 62A05(d).

(d) Instructions regarding the commencement of proceedings.--Upon issuance of an emergency order, the hearing officer shall provide the plaintiff instructions regarding the commencement of proceedings in the court at the beginning of the next business day and regarding the procedures for initiating a contempt charge should the defendant violate the emergency order. The hearing officer shall also advise the plaintiff of the existence of rape crisis centers in the county or in nearby counties in the case of sexual violence and inform the plaintiff of the availability of legal assistance without cost if the plaintiff is unable to pay for them in the case of sexual violence or intimidation.

(e) Master of emergency relief.--The president judge of a court of common pleas of a judicial district may, with the approval of the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, provide for the selection and appointment of a master for emergency relief on a full-time or part-time basis. The number of masters for emergency relief shall be fixed by the president judge with the approval of the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. The compensation of a master for emergency relief shall be fixed and paid by the county.

62A12. Arrest for violation of order

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--An arrest for a violation of an order issued under this chapter may be without warrant upon probable cause, whether or not the violation is committed in the presence of the police officer or sheriff, in circumstances where the defendant has violated a provision of an order consistent with section 62A07 (relating to relief). The police officer or sheriff may verify the existence of an order by telephone, radio or other electronic communication with the appropriate police department, Pennsylvania State Police registry or issuing authority. A police officer or sheriff shall arrest a defendant for violating an order by a court within the judicial district or issued by a court in another judicial district within this Commonwealth.

(b) Procedure following arrest.--

(1) Subsequent to an arrest, the defendant shall be taken by the police officer or sheriff without unnecessary delay before the court in the judicial district where the contempt is alleged to have occurred.

(2) When that court is unavailable, the police officer or sheriff shall convey the defendant to a magisterial district judge designated as appropriate by local rules of court or, in counties of the first class, to the appropriate hearing officer.

(c) Preliminary arraignment.--The defendant shall be afforded a preliminary arraignment without unnecessary delay.

(d) Other emergency powers unaffected.--This section shall not be construed to in any way limit any of the other powers for emergency relief provided under this chapter.

(e) Hearing.--A hearing shall be scheduled within ten business days of the filing of the charge or complaint of indirect criminal contempt. The hearing and any adjudication shall not preclude a hearing on other criminal charges underlying the contempt, nor shall a hearing or adjudication on other criminal charges preclude a hearing on a charge of indirect criminal contempt.

62A17. Procedure and other remedies

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) General rule.--Unless otherwise indicated under this chapter, a proceeding under this chapter shall be in accordance with applicable general rules and shall be in addition to any other available civil or criminal remedies. The plaintiff and the defendant may seek modification of a protection order issued under section 62A07 (relating to relief) at any time during the pendency of the order. Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, modification may be ordered after the filing of a petition for modification, service of the petition and a hearing on the petition.

(b) Remedies for bad faith.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law, upon finding that an individual commenced a proceeding under this chapter in bad faith, a court shall direct the individual to pay to the defendant actual damages and reasonable attorney fees. Failure to prove an allegation of continued risk of harm by a preponderance of the evidence shall not, by itself, result in a finding of bad faith.

Chapter 83. Particular Rights and Immunities

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Subchapter A. Rights of Action

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

8316.1. Damages in actions for unlawful dissemination of intimate image

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Cause of action established.--A person may bring a civil cause of action based upon unlawful dissemination of intimate image, as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 3131 (relating to unlawful dissemination of intimate image), in order to recover damages for any loss or injury sustained as a result of the violation.

(b) Parties authorized to bring action.--An action may be brought by a natural person or a guardian of the natural person, if the person is incompetent.

(c) Damages.--A court of competent jurisdiction may award damages as set forth in this subsection. In determining the extent of injury, the court shall consider that dissemination of an intimate image may cause long-term or permanent injury. The court may award:

(1) Actual damages arising from the incident or $500, whichever is greater. Damages include loss of money, reputation or property, whether real or personal. The court may, in its discretion, award up to three times the actual damages sustained, but not less than $500.

(2) Reasonable attorney fees and court costs.

(3) Additional relief the court deems necessary and proper.

(d) Other remedies preserved.--Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the ability of a person to receive restitution under 18 Pa.C.S. § 1106 (relating to restitution for injuries to person or property).

(e) Nonapplicability.--The provisions of this section shall not be applicable to a law enforcement officer engaged in the law enforcement officer's official duties.

(f) Definition.--As used in this section, the term “law enforcement officer” means any officer of the United States, of the Commonwealth or political subdivision thereof, or of another state or subdivision thereof, who is empowered to conduct investigations of or to make arrests for offenses enumerated in 18 Pa.C.S. (relating to crimes and offenses), or an equivalent crime in another jurisdiction, and any attorney authorized by law to prosecute or participate in the prosecution of such offense.

Title 51. Military Affairs

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Part II. Pennsylvania National Guard, Pennsylvania Guard and Militia

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Subpart D. Rights and Immunities

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Chapter 41. Rights and Immunities

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

4109. Child custody proceedings during military deployment

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Restriction on change of custody.--If a petition for change of custody of a child of an eligible servicemember is filed with any court in this Commonwealth while the eligible servicemember is deployed in support of a contingency operation, no court may enter an order modifying or amending any previous judgment or order, or issue a new order, that changes the custody arrangement for that child that existed as of the date of the deployment of the eligible servicemember, except that a court may enter a temporary custody order if it is in the best interest of the child.

(a.1) Temporary assignment to family members.--If an eligible servicemember has received notice of deployment in support of a contingency operation, a court may issue a temporary order to an eligible servicemember who has rights to a child under 23 Pa.C.S. § 5323 (relating to award of custody) or former 23 Pa.C.S. Ch. 53 Subch. A (relating to general provisions), including a temporary order to temporarily assign custody rights to family members of the servicemember. In the case of temporary assignment of rights to family members of the servicemember, the following shall apply:

(1) The servicemember may petition the court for a temporary order to temporarily assign custody rights to family members of the servicemember. The servicemember shall be joined in the petition by the family members to whom the servicemember is seeking to assign temporary custody rights. The petition shall include a proposed revised custody schedule for care of the child by the family members. The proposed revised custody schedule may not include custody rights which exceed the rights granted to a servicemember set forth in the order in effect at the time of the filing of the petition to grant temporary custody rights to family members.

(2) The court may issue a temporary order with a revised custody schedule as proposed by the servicemember and the family members or another revised custody schedule as the court deems appropriate, if the court finds that a temporary assignment of custody rights to family members of the servicemember is in the best interest of the child. In no case shall a temporary order granting custody rights to the family members of a servicemember exceed the custody rights granted to the servicemember set forth in the order in effect at the time of the filing of the petition to assign temporary custody rights to family members.

In the case of any other temporary order issued under this subsection, the court may issue a temporary order if it is in the best interest of the child.

(b) Completion of deployment.--In any temporary custody order entered under subsection (a) or (a.1), a court shall require that, upon the return of the eligible servicemember from deployment in support of a contingency operation, the custody order that was in effect immediately preceding the date of the deployment of the eligible servicemember is reinstated.

(c) Exclusion of military service from determination of child's best interest.--If a petition for the change of custody of the child of an eligible servicemember who was deployed in support of a contingency operation is filed after the end of the deployment, no court may consider the absence of the eligible servicemember by reason of that deployment in determining the best interest of the child.

(d) Failure to appear due to military deployment.--The failure of an eligible servicemember to appear in court due to deployment in support of a contingency operation shall not, in and of itself, be sufficient to justify a modification of a custody order if the reason for the failure to appear is the eligible servicemember's active duty in support of a contingency operation.

(e) Relationship to other laws.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the provisions of this section shall be applied with regard to child custody issues related to eligible servicemembers deployed in support of contingency operations.

(f) Definitions.--As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:

“Contingency operation.” A military operation that:

(1) is designated by the Secretary of Defense as an operation in which members of the armed forces are or may become involved in military actions, operations or hostilities against an enemy of the United States or against an opposing military force; or

(2) results in the call or order to, or retention on, active duty of members of the uniformed services under 10 U.S.C. § 688 (relating to retired members: authority to order to active duty; duties), 12301(a) (relating to reserve components generally), 12302 (relating to Ready Reserve), 12304 (relating to Selected Reserve and certain Individual Ready Reserve members; order to active duty other than during war or national emergency), 12305 (relating to authority of President to suspend certain laws relating to promotion, retirement, and separation) or 12406 (relating to National Guard in Federal service: call) or any other provision of 10 U.S.C. during a war or during a national emergency declared by the President or Congress.

“Eligible servicemember.” A member of the Pennsylvania National Guard or a member of an active or reserve component of the Armed Forces of the United States who is serving on active duty, other than active duty for training, for a period of 30 or more consecutive days, in support of a contingency operation.

“Family members.” As defined in 23 Pa.C.S. § 6303 (relating to definitions).

Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Actions Pursuant to Protection from Abuse Act

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Rule 1901.1. Venue

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), an action for protection from abuse may be brought in a county in which

(1) the plaintiff resides, either temporarily or permanently, or is employed, or

(2) the defendant may be served, or

(3) the abuse occurred.

(b) If the relief sought includes possession of the residence or household to the exclusion of the defendant, the action shall be brought only in the county in which the residence or household is located.

(c) An action for indirect criminal contempt may be filed in, and heard by, the court in the county in which the order was issued or where the violation occurred.

Actions for Custody, Partial Custody and Visitation of Minor Children

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

Rule 1915.2. Venue

Updated: 
May 25, 2017

(a) An action may be brought in any county

(1)(i) which is the home county of the child at the time of commencement of the proceeding, or

(ii) which had been the child's home county within six months before commencement of the proceeding and the child is absent from the county but a parent or person acting as parent continues to live in the county; or

(2) when the court of another county does not have venue under subdivision (1), and the child and the child's parents, or the child and at least one parent or a person acting as a parent, have a significant connection with the county other than mere physical presence and there is available within the county substantial evidence concerning the child's, protection, training and personal relationships; or

(3) when all counties in which venue is proper pursuant to subdivisions (1) and (2) have found that the court before which the action is pending is the more appropriate forum to determine the custody of the child; or

(4) when it appears that venue would not be proper in any other county under prerequisites substantially in accordance with paragraphs (1), (2) or (3); or

(5) when the child is present in the county and has been abandoned or it is necessary in an emergency to protect the child because the child or a sibling or parent of the child is subjected to or threatened with mistreatment or abuse.

(b) Physical presence of the child or a party, while desirable, is not necessary or sufficient to make a child custody determination except as provided in subdivision (a)(5) above.

(c) The court at any time may transfer an action to the appropriate court of any other county where the action could originally have been brought or could be brought if it determines that it is an inconvenient forum under the circumstances and the court of another county is the more appropriate forum. It shall be the duty of the prothonotary of the court in which the action is pending to forward to the prothonotary of the county to which the action is transferred certified copies of the docket entries, process, pleadings and other papers filed in the action. The costs and fees of the petition for transfer and the removal of the record shall be paid by the petitioner in the first instance to be taxable as costs in the case.

Note: Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 5401 et seq., the court may decline to exercise its jurisdiction in a particular action despite the action having been brought in a county of proper venue. Section 5426 of the act, relating to simultaneous proceedings in other courts, provides for the mandatory refusal by the court to exercise its jurisdiction in an action. Section 5427 of the act, relating to inconvenient forum, and § 5428 of the act, relating to jurisdiction declined by reason of conduct, provide for the discretionary refusal by the court to exercise its jurisdiction.