Officials explain Protection From Abuser order following murder suicide case

Local News

An apartment murder suicide in a west Erie neighborhood has renewed the debate over protection from abuse orders, most importantly do they work?

We’re being told that there isn’t a clear answer if the PFA order works or not. They said that it depends on how the victim follows through on their end.

Erie’s Crime Victim Center deals with 15 domestic violence cases a week. We’re told many people in Erie have been filing for a Protection From Abuser order since the pandemic began.

A victim of domestic violence would file a PFA through the court system in hopes to receive protection.

A judge then decides if the victim is granted a temporary PFA order.

During the same week of filing, the abuser is served, but that may not be all.

“About a week later where the defendant can either choose to have a hearing or a judge makes a decision or they can agree to the consent of the PFA,” said Chrissy Fortin, Director of Counseling at Crime Victim Center.

Fortin said that the victim should be aware of their surroundings once the abuser has been served.

“And if they need to maybe stay with a friend or family member for a few days or stay in a shelter to be safe,” Fortin.

Some lawyers said if a person violates the order, there are serious penalties that a person could face.

“They would face what they call an indirect criminal content and they can face everything from up to six months in jail to very serious fines,” said Bruce Sandmeyer, Attorney.

Sandmeyer, who has been an attorney for 20 plus years, said that he has dealt with hundreds of PFA cases. He said that there are other repercussions for the one that’s being accused.

“If they lose their ability to handle weapons because of the Protection From Abuser order, they can’t handle weapons in the military and that terminates a military career very quickly,” said Sandmeyer.

We are told that all centers that deal with domestic violence in the area have a 24/7 on the call service.

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