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I-Team: Is There Protection in a PFA?

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(WBRE/WYOU-TV) On Monday, the I-Team’s Andy Mehalshick spoke exclusively with State Representative Tarah Toohil. The lawmaker from Luzerne County filed for a protection from abuse order against a colleague. And that has PFA’s in the headlines. But does that document really help victims

 On average 2, 400 people–mostly women file for PFA.’s in Luzerne County every year.

Judge Tina Gartley hears many of those cases. For the most part, she thinks the PFA. Does help protect people in volatile situations?

 “It is a court order and people violate court orders on a regular basis. It is an effective tool but it alone does not stop domestic violence,” said Judge Gartley.

A PFA sets up boundaries of where the alleged abuser can go as it pertains to the victim. The court can order that alleged abuser to stay away from the person and there home or place of work. Violations could land the alleged perpetrator in prison for up to 6 months on each violation and thousands of dollars in fines.

Judge Gartley could not comment on whether she feels the PFA. Laws can be strengthened because it would be a violation of judicial ethics. Judges are forbidden by law to comment on the laws they enforce. She did say the present system does impose strict penalties to those who violate the orders laid out in a PFA

 “If a PFA is entered there are very strong remedies that can be granted. Someone’s right to bear, own and possess arms for three years. They can’t go to a residence for three years and it can impact your custody rights.” 

Cara Solimine handles PFA. Cases for the Luzerne County District Attorney’s office. She says For now it is the best system we have  “You’re always going to have people who do think if it as a piece of paper which is unfortunate. As far as what protection we can give we do the very best.” 

Paula Triano is Director of the Domestic Violence Service Center in Luzerne County. She believes the PFA. Laws could be strengthened and she says working with potential victims is a key part of the current system.   “A lot of people say it’s a piece of paper but we work with the victim for a safety plan. It’s important they have a plan to keep themselves safe because you can’t control what an abuser can continue to do.”

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