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Child Abuse

I think my child has been a victim of child abuse? What should I do?
If you suspect child abuse, it is imperative that you call 911 immediately and seek medical assistance for the child. There are supports to assist you in taking steps to assist a child who has been the victim of child abuse. You can also contact the District AttorneyÕs Office Family Violence and Sexual Assault Victim/Witness Coordinator at (215) 686-8084.

   What should I do if I think that a child who is not in my care is being abused or neglected?
Contact the Department of Human Services 24 hour hotline at (215) 683-6100.

   Supportive services for victims of child abuse/neglect:

Family Violence Sexual Assault Unit
District Attorney's Office
(215) 686-8096

CCTC-Children's Crisis Treatment Center
1080 North Delaware Ave., Suite 600
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 496-0707

Philadelphia ChildrenÕs Alliance
300 E. Hunting Park Ave.
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 387-9500

Support Center for Child Advocates
1900 Cherry St.
Philadelphia, PA
(267) 546-9200

Defense Counsel Contacting a Bureau

Are you are a defense attorney seeking contact with one of the Bureaus in the Trial Division? 
Please send an e-mail to the appropriate address below. Messages must include the your client's name, case number and next listing date. Also, the subject line of your e-mail must include one of three categories:

1. Discovery Request
2. Continuance Request
3. Offer Request







If your client's case is next listed in a Smart Room for a Pre-trial Conference and you have a question regarding your client's offer, please contact the Assistant District Attorney who made the offer. You can find his/her information on your Smart Offer sheet.

Please note the Rules of Professional Conduct prohibits the District Attorney's Office from having direct contact with defendants listed on a case. The Office will only reply to correspondence sent on behalf of a client from a defense attorney.

Domestic Violence

I am the victim of domestic violence. What should I do?
Call 911 immediately. Your information will be referred to the police district where you are located, and district officers will contact you regarding your complaint.

*For Crisis and Counseling services for victims of domestic violence please contact the Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-866-SAFE-014.

What is a Protection from Abuse Order?
A Protection from Abuse (PFA) Order is the same thing as a restraining order. Under the Protection from Abuse Act, you have the right to go to court and ask a judge to grant a PFA order, which can set limits on the contact that the person who committed the acts of abuse can have with the person who requests the order. A PFA is a civil order, not a criminal order. The violation of a PFA is a criminal matter and could be addressed by the police and/or the District AttorneyÕs Office. The court order may include any of the following:

  • Stopping the abuser from further acts of abuse;
  • Evicting the abuser from your household;
  • Keeping the abuser from going to your home, school, or job;
  • Giving you or the other parent temporary custody of, or temporary visitation, with your child or children.

It is important to note that a PFA is not a guarantee of safety Ð it is one tool that can be used to deter one person from abusing another and is only one part of a comprehensive safety plan. Victims of domestic violence may also be interested in registering with PA SAVIN, PennsylvaniaÕs offender release notification service.

If you would like assistance or information related to other steps you can take to increase your safety, please call the Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-866-SAFE-014 or contact the Victim/Witness Services Unit at 215-686-8027. If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.

Am I eligible for a Protection from Abuse Order?
The Protection from Abuse Act focuses on preventing abuse between family or household members, sexual or intimate partners, or persons who have children together. You may be eligible if such a person:

  • Injured you or is trying to injure you (physically or sexually);
  • Is threatening to harm you;
  • Is preventing you from going somewhere;
  • Is abusing or has abused minor children (physically or sexually); or
  • Is stalking you so that you become afraid of getting hurt.

  How do I obtain a Protection from Abuse Order?
  You can file for a Protection from Abuse Orders at the following locations and times:

Family Court
34 South 11th Street 
Room B-15
Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
(215) 686-3511

Criminal Justice Center
1301 Filbert Street
Room B-03
Monday-Friday, 5 p.m.-8:30 a.m.

Please note that a Protection from Abuse Order is a civil order, not a criminal order. The           violation of a PFA is a criminal matter and could be addressed by the police and/or the District AttorneyÕs Office.

  I have a Protection from Abuse Order and it has been violated. What do I do?
Call 911 immediately and report the violation. Once the police arrive at your location, you may be asked to show a copy of the Protection from Abuse Order. It is therefore recommended that you keep a copy with you at all times. Pennsylvania State Police and Philadelphia Police keep a record of all active protection orders, so the officer may need to confirm that your order is valid before making an arrest. Although a Protection from Abuse order is not a criminal order, violation of a Protection from Abuse order is a crime and is subject to criminal prosecution.

  Note: Police will NOT evict your abuser from your home unless the order specifically states "eviction."

  I received a Stay Away Order in court. Is that the same thing as a Protection from Abuse Order?
No. Stay Away Orders are temporary, are issued by Judges, and are only good for one year or until the associated criminal case is resolved. Additionally, Stay Away Orders are not entered into the police computer system. For a permanent Protection from Abuse Order, you must go to 34 South 11th Street (8:30am-5:00pm) or the Criminal Justice Center (5:00pm-8:30am) and file for a Protection from Abuse Order. All active protection orders are recognized by the Pennsylvania State Police and the Philadelphia Police.

  I am the victim in a domestic violence case and I want to drop charges. How do I drop charges?
The decision to file and/or drop charges in criminal cases belongs to the District Attorney's Office. As the victim, your input related to the case will be considered, but the final decision about whether to drop or move forward with criminal charges is made by the District Attorney's Office.

Family Violence Sexual Assault Unit
District Attorney's Office
(215) 686-8096

Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline

Women Against Abuse
Emergency Shelter:

1-866-SAFE-014 (Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline)
Legal Center: 215-686-7082

Lutheran Settlement House
1340 Frankford Avenue
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 426-8610

Women In Transition
21 South 12th Street, 6th floor
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 751-1111

Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Inc. 
216 W. Somerset St.
Philadelphia, PA 
1-866-SAFE-014 (Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline)

Women's Law Project
125 S. 9th St. #300
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 928-9801

Elder Abuse

What is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse is the abuse or exploitation of a person age 60 or older by family members or caregivers, which may include physical, emotional, or sexual abuse and/or financial exploitation. In addition to family members and caregivers, others can perpetuate elder abuse by violence, fraud, and scams.

  Who do I call if I think I am a victim of Elder Abuse?
If you believe you are a crime victim, please call 911. The Philadelphia Police Department will           investigate, prepare a report and, where appropriate, arrest the perpetrator.

  Is there a fee for the services provided by the Victim/Witness Services Unit?
No. All assistance is provided free of charge.

  Supportive services for victims of elder abuse:

Elder Victim/Witness Coordinator
Philadelphia District Attorney's Office
(215) 686-8035

Philadelphia Police Department CARE
(Crimes Against the Retired Elderly) Unit (a division of the Special Victims Unit) 215-685-3265

Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE)
100 S. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 545-5728

Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA)
642 N. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 765-9040

SeniorLAW Center
100 S. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 988-1242

Hate Crime

What is a hate crime?
A hate crime is an act motivated by prejudice or bias. To be a hate crime, the act must be criminal - not a mere expression of an intolerant opinion. Certain offenses become hate crimes because of what motivated the criminal act. When certain crimes are committed because of a victim's real or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, or ancestry a hate crime has been committed in Pennsylvania.

What should I do if I am a victim of a hate crime?
Contact the police immediately by calling 911 or go to your local police station. You can also call the Philadelphia Police Victim Services Unit at (215) 685-1158 for information regarding your rights as a victim and how they can help you.

How are charges filed and what will happen to the case?
The police will investigate, prepare a report, and, where possible, arrest the perpetrator. When the police have completed their investigation, the case will be reviewed by the District Attorney's Office, which will determine the appropriate charges and prosecute the case. A judge will set bail for the defendant and prescribe conditions to protect you and others. After a preliminary hearing, the case will be assigned to a trial judge. An assistant district attorney is often assigned to specially prosecute the case and trained victim services coordinators will assist you at every stage of the proceedings.

What if it's not a crime, but still hate-related?
If you were the target of a non-criminal bias act, you can contact the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR). PCHR responds to acts of bias and interpersonal or community conflict in multiple ways including mediation, facilitated discussions, and convening meetings with all affected parties to begin the healing process. When a discriminatory act occurs in the workplace or public accommodation, PCHR can enforce the CityÕs anti-discrimination laws. To contact PCHR, call 215-686-4670 or email them at pchr@phila.gov. PCHR also has an anonymous hotline at 215-686-2856.

Does the law treat hate crimes differently than other crimes?
Yes. For example, under the Ethnic Intimidation Act (Act 154 of 1982, 18 Pa. C.S. sec2710) crimes motivated by bias or hate can effectively be elevated to a more serious crime with a more severe penalty.

What are examples of possible hate crimes?

  • Physical assault
  • Destruction of Property
  • Cross Burnings
  • Criminal Trespass
  • Arson or Firebombing
  • Terroristic Threats
  • Vandalism
  • Harassment
  • Stalking
  • Harassment by Telephone
Private Criminal Complaint

Where do I go to file a private criminal complaint?
The District Attorney's Criminal Complaint Unit, 1425 Arch St. 4th Floor, Phila. Pa. 19102, is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

What do I need to file a private criminal complaint?
Complainant MUST have accused's full name and address (home or work.) The Private Criminal Complaint (PCC) Unit has the same burden of proof as the police, so the complainant must be a witness or have a witness to the crime.

What types of cases does the private criminal complaint unit handle?
This Unit handles misdemeanor offenses. Victims of felony offenses such as Aggravated Assault or Burglary should make a report to the Police Department. Below is a list of common misdemeanors:

  • Simple Assault
  • Terroristic Threats
  • Harassment by Communication
  • Theft under $2000 (except motor vehicles and firearms)
  • Bad Checks
  • Stalking
  • Unlawful Restraint
  • False Imprisonment
  • Criminal Mischief
  • Defiant Trespass
  • Unauthorized Use of Auto
  • Contempt of Court Order (Violation of Orders)

What will happen after I go to the Private Criminal Complaint Unit?
If your complaint is approved for prosecution, you will file it with the Municipal Court upon payment of a $39.10 fee. You will receive a court date in the Criminal Justice Center in approximately four weeks. No additional witnesses or evidence is necessary at the first listing.

Sexual Assault

I am a victim of Sexual Assault. What should I do?
If you have been the victim of sexual assault, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Please call 911 or the Philadelphia Police Department Special Victims Unit at 215-685-3251 for transportation to the Philadelphia Sexual Assault Response Center (PSARC).

Please do NOT shower, eat, drink, or smoke before going to the PSARC, as this may destroy evidence. At the PSARC, you will receive a comprehensive medical examination and treatment for possible sexually transmitted infections, and forensic evidence will be collected. The medical examination will be completed by a registered nurse who is specially trained in conducting sexual assault exams. You will also have the opportunity to be connected with a counselor who can offer support and answer your questions.

If you would like to report a sexual assault that occurred in the past, please contact the Philadelphia Police Department Special Victims Unit at 215-685-3251. You may also contact WOAR, a non-profit organization that assists victims of sexual assault, for assistance with this process.

Supportive services for victims of sexual assault: WOAR - Women Organized Against Rape
1617 JFK Boulevard
One Penn Center
Suite 1100
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 985-3333 (hotline)

Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition

What is Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Ð ARD?
Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition is most commonly referred to as ARD. These types of cases involve relatively minor offenses and defendants who are first time offenders. Such cases will only be placed in the ARD program after a careful review by the District AttorneyÕs Office. Defendants placed in the ARD program must agree to a probationary sentence with conditions imposed such as restitution to the victim, rehabilitative classes and/or community service. If the defendant completes the sentence, any record of the arrest may be expunged. If the defendant fails to complete the sentence, the case will go to trial. In minor assault type cases the victim must agree to ARD.

Are you are a defense attorney seeking information about your client's eligibility for ARD? 
Please send an e-mail to DA_ARD@phila.gov. Messages must include the your client's name, case number and next listing date. Also, "ARD Eligibility" must be the subject line of your message.

Please note the Rules of Professional Conduct prohibits the District Attorney's Office from having direct contact with defendants listed on a case. The Office will only reply to correspondence sent on behalf of a client from a defense attorney.