Case Notes: Who falls under a PFA?

Protection from Abuse (PFA) cases only apply between "family or household members" or "sexual or intimate partners". 23 Pa.CSA 6102 (a). Violence between strangers or acquaintances can be the basis of a criminal action, but not a PFA.

In the case of Evans v. Braun, 12 A.3d 395 (Pa. Super 2010), the Pennsylvania Superior Court answered the question of whether 2 dates are enough to contsitute "sexual or intimate partners" and thus fall under the PFA statute, There was no finding that the parties were ever involved in a sexual relationship. But the Court found that the two dates were sufficient to create "intimate partners" under the PFA statute. Accodingly, the PFA against Mr. Braun was upheld.

By including non-sexual dating relationships, the Court seems to have significantly widened the scope of the PFA statute. However, in addition to the 2 dates, the Court also noted that the parties had interacted more often on a personal and emotional level (the parties were former co-workers). So, it would be premature to say that any dating relationship will autmotically lead to standing under the PFA statute.

Also, the Court dealt with a disturbing sitatuation - the defendant had brandished a gun and threatened to use it. There is an old saying that "bad cases make bad law" and it may be that the Court simply wanted to protect this particular woman. In any event, extending the PFA statute to including at least some short-term dating realationsihps is a major enlargement of the statute.

As always, speak to your attorney before applying this case to your circumstances. In the interest of clarity, I did not address several aspects of this opinion. Also, almost all rules have exceptions and the exceptions often have exceptions.