Pennsylvania's Protection from Sexual Violence and/or Intimidation Act (PSVI) became effective this month. The Act allows victims to obtain a civil no-contact order for up to three (3) years. Adults and minors can petition for an Order on the basis of sexual violence. Only minors may obtain an Order on the basis of intimidation provided the offender is over 18 years old. There is no filing fee to file. A temporary Order can be granted following an ex parte hearing. A final hearing must be held within ten (10) days of when the Petition is filed. The victim must establish sexual violence and/or intimidation by a preponderance of the evidence.
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The Protection from Abuse (PFA) Act also provides a civil remedy in the form of a stay away order however the PFA Act can only be utilized if there is a certain relationship between the victim and the offender. The PSVI Act does not restrict protection based on relationship of the parties involved. Sexual violence for purposes of the PSVI Act includes but is not limited to rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, indecent exposure, and unlawful dissemination of an intimate image. Violation of a PSVI Order can carry criminal consequences. Pennsylvania is the 34th state to pass such an Act to provide some protection for victims of sexual assault since many cases do not make it into the criminal justice system.