Legal Advocacy

What is Legal Advocacy?

WIN’s Legal Advocates provide advocacy and accompaniment through the civil and criminal court system.

Legal Advocates are not attorneys and cannot provide legal advice.

What Can Legal Advocates Assist With?

Civil Protection Orders: Legal Advocates assist victims of domestic and sexual violence in completing the steps necessary to obtain Protection From Abuse Orders (PFAs) and Sexual Violence Protection Orders (SVPOs). Legal advocates also work with victims to schedule appointments with WIN’s attorneys and advocate for them throughout the court process.

Referrals to Attorneys: WIN’s Legal Advocates can also provide referrals for victims of intimate partner violence to the WIN Law Office for certain civil matters, including custody, divorce with no property, child support and spousal support.

For cases that WIN cannot assist with, you can call the Franklin County Bar Association Legal Aid and Lawyer Referral Hotline at 717.238.6807.

Accompaniment: Legal Advocates provide court accompaniment for civil and criminal proceedings to provide support and answer questions. Advocates are also available to accompany victims to local police stations to make a report.

WIN does not assist with Emergency Custody situations or Emergency Protection Orders. If you or your child are in danger, please contact the police.

What Are Civil Protection Orders?

Civil Protection Orders (CPOs) are documents, granted by the civil court, intended to provide victims of certain crimes relief from further harm.

CPOs can be filed whether or not the incident has been reported to the police, however, violations of the order are criminal and must be reported to police.

It is important to keep in mind that CPOs are just one tool to help protect victims and may not be appropriate in every situation. Other safety precautions should also be considered. Call our 24-Hour Crisis Hotline for assistance from a WIN Advocate in creating a safety plan.

Are There Different Kinds of Civil Protection Orders?

In Pennsylvania, there are three different civil protection orders:

Protection From Abuse Order (PFA): is intended to prevent further physical or sexual abuse, stalking, or harassment when the victim and defendant have one of the following relationships:

  • Current or former spouses
  • Current or former intimate or sexual partners
  • Parent and child*
  • Family and/or household members who are related by blood*
  • Family and/or household members who are related through marriage*

Certain protections may be requested when filing for a PFA including, no contact, temporary custody, eviction, return of property, and relinquishment of firearms.

Sexual Violence Protection Order (SVPO): is intended to assist victims of sexual violence from further harassment or violence when the victim and perpetrator do not have and have never had a family, household, or intimate partner relationship.

Protection From Intimidation Order (PFI)*: is intended to assist in cases where a child under the age of 18 is being harassed or stalked by an adult who has never had a family, household, or intimate partner relationship with the child.

If the victim requesting a CPO is under the age of 18, a parent, legal guardian, or adult household member must file on the minor’s behalf.

*WIN is only able to assist with PFAs against current or former intimate partners or spouses and SVPOs. For assistance with other PFAs or PFIs, victims can file on their own at the courthouse or call MidPenn Legal Services at 717.264.5354.

To speak to a Legal Advocate or for more information about Civil Protection Orders, call our 24-Hour Crisis Hotline at 717.264.4444.

You can also learn more about the PFA process by visiting the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s website.