§ 6102.  Definitions.

(a)  General rule.--The following words and phrases when used in this chapter shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"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).

"Adult."  An individual who is 18 years of age or older.

"Appropriate law enforcement agency."  The duly constituted municipal law enforcement agency that regularly provides primary police services to a political subdivision or, in the absence of any such municipal law enforcement agency, the Pennsylvania State Police installation that regularly provides primary police services to the political subdivision.

"Certified copy."  A paper copy of the original order of the issuing court endorsed by the appropriate clerk of that court or an electronic copy of the original order of the issuing court endorsed with a digital signature of the judge or appropriate clerk of that court. A raised seal on the copy of the order of the issuing court shall not be required.

"Commercial armory."  A for-profit entity which holds the appropriate Federal and State licenses to possess and secure firearms of third persons.

"Comparable court."  A foreign court that:

(1)  has subject matter jurisdiction and is authorized to issue ex parte, emergency, temporary or final protection orders in that jurisdiction; and

(2)  possessed jurisdiction over the parties when the protection order was issued in that jurisdiction.

"Confidential communications."  All information, whether written or spoken, transmitted between a victim and a domestic violence counselor or advocate in the course of the relationship. The term includes information received or given by the domestic violence counselor or advocate in the course of the relationship, as well as advice, reports, statistical data, memoranda or working papers, records or the like, given or made in the course of the relationship. The term also includes communications made by or to a linguistic interpreter assisting the victim, counselor or advocate in the course of the relationship.

"Domestic violence counselor/advocate."  An individual who is engaged in a domestic violence program, the primary purpose of which is the rendering of counseling or assistance to victims of domestic violence, who has undergone 40 hours of training.

"Domestic violence program."  A nonprofit organization or program whose primary purpose is to provide services to domestic violence victims which include, but are not limited to, crisis hotline; safe homes or shelters; community education; counseling systems intervention and interface; transportation, information and referral; and victim assistance.

"Family or household members."  Spouses or persons who have been spouses, persons living as spouses or who lived as spouses, parents and children, other persons related by consanguinity or affinity, current or former sexual or intimate partners or persons who share biological parenthood.

"Firearm."  Any weapon which is designed to or may readily be converted to expel any projectile by the action of an explosive or the frame or receiver of any such weapon as defined by 18 Pa.C.S. § 6105(i) (relating to persons not to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms).

"Foreign protection order."  A protection order as defined by 18 U.S.C. § 2266 (relating to definitions) issued by a comparable court of another state, the District of Columbia, Indian tribe or territory, possession or commonwealth of the United States.

"Hearing officer."  A magisterial district judge, judge of the Philadelphia Municipal Court, arraignment court magistrate appointed under 42 Pa.C.S. § 1123 (relating to jurisdiction and venue), master appointed under 42 Pa.C.S. § 1126 (relating to masters) and master for emergency relief.

"Master for emergency relief."  A member of the bar of the Commonwealth appointed under section 6110(e) (relating to emergency relief by minor judiciary).

"Minor."  An individual who is not an adult.

"Other weapon."  Anything readily capable of lethal use and possessed under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for lawful uses which it may have. The term does not include a firearm.

"Safekeeping permit."  A permit issued by a sheriff allowing a person to take possession of any firearm, other weapon or ammunition that a judge ordered a defendant to relinquish in a protection from abuse proceeding.

"Secure visitation facility."  A court-approved visitation program offered in a facility with trained professional staff operated in a manner that safeguards children and parents from abuse and abduction.


(1)  Except as provided in paragraph (2), the sheriff of the county.

(2)  In a city of the first class, the chief or head of the police department.

"Victim."  A person who is physically or sexually abused by a family or household member. For purposes of section 6116 (relating to confidentiality), a victim is a person against whom abuse is committed who consults a domestic violence counselor or advocate for the purpose of securing advice, counseling or assistance. The term shall also include persons who have a significant relationship with the victim and who seek advice, counseling or assistance from a domestic violence counselor or advocate regarding abuse of the victim.

"Weapon."  Anything readily capable of lethal use and possessed under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for lawful uses which it may have. The term includes a firearm which is not loaded or lacks a magazine, clip or other components to render it immediately operable and components which can readily be assembled into a weapon as defined by 18 Pa.C.S. § 907 (relating to possessing instruments of crime).

(b)  Other terms.--Terms not otherwise defined in this chapter shall have the meaning given to them in 18 Pa.C.S. (relating to crimes and offenses).


(Oct. 6, 1994, P.L.574, No.85, eff. 60 days; Mar. 31, 1995, 1st Sp.Sess., P.L.985, No.10, eff. 60 days; June 22, 2001, P.L.576, No.39, eff. 60 days; Nov. 30, 2004, P.L.1618, No.207, eff. 60 days; Nov. 10, 2005, P.L.335, No.66, eff. 180 days; Oct. 9, 2008, P.L.1352, No.98, eff. 60 days; Oct. 12, 2018, P.L.519, No.79, eff. 180 days)


2018 Amendment.  Act 79 added the defs. of "appropriate law enforcement agency" and "commercial armory" in subsec. (a). Act 79 shall apply to orders issued pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. § 6108 on or after the effective date of section 11 of Act 79.

2008 Amendment.  Act 98 amended the def. of "hearing officer" in subsec. (a). Section 10 of Act 98 provided that nothing in Act 98 shall be construed or deemed to provide arraignment court magistrates with retirement benefits or rights different from those availiable to bail commissioners immediately prior to the effective date of Act 98.

2005 Amendment.  Act 66 amended the defs. of "confidential communications" and "hearing officer" and added the defs. of "firearm," "master for emergency relief," "other weapon," "safekeeping permit," "sheriff" and "weapon" in subsec. (a).

2004 Amendment. See section 29 of Act 207 in the appendix to this title for special provisions relating to construction of law.

2001 Amendment.  Act 39 added the defs. of "certified copy," "comparable court" and "foreign protection order" in subsec. (a).

1995 Amendment.  Act 10, 1st Sp.Sess., amended the def. of "abuse" in subsec. (a).

Cross References.  Section 6102 is referred to in sections 3701, 5322, 6702, 6711 of this title; sections 2711, 2718, 6102, 6105, 9158 of Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses); sections 1726.2, 5920, 8127, 9720.8, 9774.1 of Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure); section 304 of Title 53 (Municipalities Generally).