PROTECTION OF VICTIMS OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE OR INTIMIDATION ACT (PSVI)
42 Pa. C.S. § 62A
The Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation Act (PSVI) went into effect in Pennsylvania on July 1, 2015.
There are two orders available under the PSVI – the Sexual Violence Protection Order (SVPO) and the Protection From Intimidation Order (PFI order).
Sexual Violence Protection Order (SVPO):
Definition of Sexual Violence
The PSVI Act defines sexual violence as conduct between persons who are not family or household members that constitutes one of the following crimes:
- Sexual offenses
- Endangering the welfare of children if the offense involved sexual contact with the victim
- Corruption of minors
- Sexual abuse of children
- Unlawful contact with minor
- Sexual exploitation of children
An SVPO is a civil order designed to protect victims of sexual violence from further abuse and/or intimidation, regardless of whether or not criminal charges have been filed against the perpetrator. Adults and minors (with a parent or guardian to file on their behalf) can petition for an SVPO.
Similar in many ways to a Protection from Abuse order or PFA, the key difference is that there is no relationship requirement between the alleged perpetrator and the victim. (While PFAs require an intimate or household relationship between the two parties, an SVPO does not, and is available to all victims of sexual violence.)
Examples of situations where the SVPO may be appropriate relief:
- A victim is sexually assaulted by a co-worker (not related or in a relationship; not household members)
- A student is sexually assaulted by another student
- A tenant is fondled by a landlord
- A college student (an adult) who was sexually assaulted experiences harassment from the perpetrator’s friends after reporting the assault
Protection From Intimidation (PFI) Order:
Definition of Intimidation
Intimidation under the PSVI Act can be described as harassment or stalking (according to statutes) of a minor (under the age of 18) by an adult (18 or older), when there is no family, dating, intimate or household relationship between them.
The Protection From Intimidation Order was created to protect minors who have experienced harassment or stalking when the offender is age 18 or older. An adult (parent or guardian) must petition for the PFI order on the minor’s behalf.
Examples of situations where the PFI order may be the appropriate relief:
- A child victim whose offender repeatedly drives by the bus stop
- A teen athlete is stalked by an adult coach
- A teen is harassed on line by a teacher
Both SVPOs AND PFI orders prohibit an offender from having any contact with the victim. Protections can include preventing the offender from entering the victim’s home, workplace, or school. Both orders can also be expanded to prevent intimidation/contact from a third party on behalf of the offender, or extend to protection to related parties, such as parents, siblings, or children of the victim.
The SVPO and PFI order time period is up to 36 months.
Violations: Criminal and Civil Contempt
Although SVPO and PFI orders are civil in nature, like PFA orders, violating them can have criminal consequences. If a violation of a SVP or PFI order is reported, law enforcement may arrest a defendant for Indirect Criminal Contempt (ICC). The arrest may be made without a warrant upon probable cause, whether or not an officer witnesses the violation.
Like criminal violations of a PFA, hearings on an ICC violation shall be scheduled within 10 business days of an officer filing the charge or complaint. Sentencing for an ICC conviction may include a fine of up to $1,000, but no less than $300, and up to six months either in prison or under supervised probation.
Upon an ICC conviction, and at the request of plaintiff, the court shall extend the order. Plaintiffs may also file a private criminal complaint for a violation of any provision of the order. The PSVI Act provides plaintiffs with additional remedies. Plaintiffs can file a petition for civil contempt alleging a violation of any provision of the order. Upon finding a defendant in civil contempt, a court may order a prison term of no more than six months until the defendant complies with the order.
HOW TO FILE FOR AN SVPO or PFI Order:
In Berks County, the process is the same as the process to file for a PFA.
Follow this link for instructions.
Which Protection Order is right for you? PFA or SVPO?
Link to PCADV (Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence) echnical Assistance Bulletin: