Protection From Abuse

Protection From Abuse

Protection From Abuse (PFA) is a civil order of the court available to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. It prohibits the offender from abusing, stalking, harassing, threatening or attempting to cause bodily injury to the victim. 


Protection From Abuse Office
Physical Location: 1st Floor Services Center 
Mailing Address Only: 4th Floor 
633 Court Street
Reading, PA 19601

Phone: 610-478-6208 ext. 5701 / ext. 5702
Fax: 610-478-4995


The PFA FILING hours are 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and the PFA Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  

After PFA filing hours, PFA staff can assist you with applying for an Emergency PFA from your local Magisterial District Judge or you can go to Reading Central Court on the 1st floor of the Courthouse after 7:00 p.m. weekdays and on weekends or holidays.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Obtain a PFA in Berks County

  • A spouse or former spouse of the offender
  • A parent of a common child of the offender
  • A current or former sexual or intimate partner with the offender
  • A child of the victim
  • A child of the offender
  • A family member related by blood/marriage to the offender
  • A sibling (person who shares biological parenthood) of the offender
  • A current or former cohabitant (person who lives with) like a spouse
A temporary PFA Order is effective up to 10 business days until the court hearing on the Final Order is held. The Final PFA Order can be in effect for up to 3 years.
There is no cost to you (plaintiff) to initially file a PFA. The party responsible for paying the costs of filing and serving the PFA will be determined by the Judge at the final hearing.
  • Restrain the defendant from abusing, threatening, harassing, or stalking the plaintiff and/or minor child(ren)
  • Prohibit defendant from contacting the plaintiff, and any other protected person under the Order, at any location noted by the plaintiff
  • Evict/exclude the defendant from the plaintiff’s residence or the residence of any other person protected under the Order
  • Award plaintiff temporary custody of minor child(ren) and provide defendant with partial custody and/or visitation if appropriate
  • Order defendant to pay temporary support for plaintiff and/or the minor child(ren), including medical support and payment of rent/mortgage
  • Reimburse plaintiff for out-of-pocket financial losses as a result of the abuse
  • Prohibit defendant from having any contact with plaintiff’s relatives and children listed in the PFA Order, except as the court finds necessary with respect to partial custody and/or visitation with the minor child(ren)
  • Require the defendant to temporarily turn over weapons to the Berks County Sheriff’s Office and prohibit defendant from transferring, acquiring or possessing any such weapons for the duration of the PFA Order
The PFA Act defines "abuse" as follows:
"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).
The plaintiff should call the police immediately (Dial 911). The police have the authority to arrest the defendant if they have reason to believe that the defendant violated the PFA Order.
When an arrest is made, a complaint for Indirect Criminal Contempt (ICC) is completed and signed by either a police officer or the plaintiff. When the complaint is filed by a police officer, neither the plaintiff's presence nor signature is required.
If an arrest is not made, the plaintiff may file a complaint in the District Attorney's Office for Indirect Criminal Contempt. A court hearing on the ICC will be scheduled. The plaintiff is notified of the date and time for the ICC hearing and is usually present to testify regarding the violation of the PFA. If the defendant is found in contempt of the PFA Order, he/she can be fined up to $1,000 and/or sentenced to jail for up to 6 months and may receive probation.
If you have an active PFA Order and want to withdraw it, go to the Courtroom of the Emergency Family Motions Judge for that day. The Judge may grant or deny your request.