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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: December 14, 2015 11:09 AM
From: Senator John P. Sabatina, Jr.
To: All Senate members
Subject: Changes to the Protection From Abuse - Act 66 of 2005
In the near future I plan on introducing legislation that would provide added security for women who file Protection From Abuse (PFA) matters in Pennsylvania. Changes were made under Act 66 of 2005 that helped strengthen the law. However, during a recent meeting with Philadelphia Sheriff's office, it became apparent that there are some unintentional holes in the original Rule 1930.4. Service of Original Process in Domestic Relations Matter under the Pennsylvania Codes.

There have been instances where victims of abuse have filed PFA's only to return home unprotected by law enforcement. Under "Rule 1930.4. Service of Original Process in Domestic Relations Matters.
(a) Persons Who May Serve. Original process in all domestic relations matters may be served by the sheriff or a competent adult:" My suggestion is to change 'may' to 'must' in order to provide absolute protection for those returning home after filing a Protection From Abuse. The Philadelphia Sheriff's office had over 3,000 instances last year where women returned home unaccompanied after filing for protection - only to be subjected to further abuse.

Also, a change to "(b) Service in Protection From Abuse Matters. In Protection from Abuse matters only, original process may also be served by an adult using any means set forth in subdivision (a) above. If personal service cannot be completed within forty-eight (48) hours after a Protection From Abuse petition is filed. . ."

My suggestion would change 48 hours to 6 hours. This would provide law enforcement with enough time to find an officer able to accompany the victim to their home, in order to gather personal belongings and serve the order. Again, 48 hours can be a lifetime for victims of abuse. Many times they return to a more hostile environment than when they left.

If you wish to join me on this issue but have questions, please contact my Harrisburg office.

Introduced as SB1143