New PA Law Creates Protection Order for “Sexual Violence”

By: Dave Mueller, Criminal Defense Attorney

A recently enacted law in Pennsylvania will create new legal remedies and potential consequences for cases where certain sexual offenses are alleged. Senate Bill 681, which was signed into law by the governor on March 25, 2014, is modeled after the existing Protection from Abuse Act, and is designed to allow persons alleging certain sexually based offenses to seek a civil protection order preventing contact by the alleged perpetrator.

The new law is modeled after the existing Protection from Abuse Statute, in that it allows a petitioner to file a civil action in court requesting a court order that prohibits another person from having any contact with them. Under the previously existing Protection from Abuse Statute, protection orders were only available to those alleging certain types of domestic abuse between family members or former intimate partners. The new law would not require a prior family or intimate partner relationship, and would be available to any person alleging “sexual violence” or “intimidation” committed by a person who is not a family member or former intimate partner.

For the purposes of this law, “sexual violence” is defined to include conduct that would otherwise be a crime under the sex offenses chapter of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code. This would include conduct that fits the definition of rape, indecent assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, and a range of other sexual offenses, including indecent exposure. The definition of “intimidation” includes certain conduct by a person over the age of 18 involving a victim who is under 18, which would otherwise be considered harassment or stalking under the Crimes Code.
Much like a Protection from Abuse Order, if a court order is issued under the new law, the person subject to the order would be prohibited from any contact with the protected party, and subject to any other conditions the court imposes. Violation of the order is a criminal offense, subjecting the offender to up to 6 months in jail and a $1000 fine.
Although this law does not go into effect until July, 2015, its passage highlights the need for any person charged or accused of any sexual offense to seek an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. An allegation for much of the conduct covered by the new law also could subject a person to serious criminal charges, and how one responds to a civil petition of this nature can have grave impact on current or future criminal charges.

If you, or anyone you know, is facing a criminal charge or any civil action seeking a protection order, contact us today for a no charge consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

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