A: The Protection From Abuse Act is a state law which gives a court the power to issue a civil (non-criminal) order to protect certain people. To be eligible for an order for protection from abuse, you must have been physically abused or be in real fear of serious physical abuse because of threats or menace, or have been sexually abused or have been knowingly restrained (kept somewhere against your will) with no safe way to escape. If you have been assaulted, call the police. If you need protection from further abuse, you should file a Petition for Protection from Abuse. The Protection from Abuse Act defines “abuse” and states who the abuser must be (spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, present or former lover, etc.). Filing procedures vary from county to county. If you need to file for a “protection order” and the courthouse is closed or an emergency judge is unavailable, you must file a petition before a Municipal Court Judge (in Philadelphia) or a District Justice (in the surrounding counties.) If a hearing officer believes that you are in immediate danger, he or she will grant you a temporary emergency order for protection. The hearing officer will advise you on what procedures you need to follow in order to obtain a final protection from abuse order. Someone at a local crisis hotline, domestic violence shelter or an organization such as Woman Against Abuse can provide immediate assistance. Assistance, advice and guidance is provided in Bucks County by the Legal Aid Society. Call [number] for Legal Aid’s Abuse Line. In Bucks County, contact a Woman’s Place at 1-800-220-8116 if you need shelter, want to arrange for someone to accompany you to court, or want further guidance and information.
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