The client was in the process of getting a divorce when his wife sought a Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order from the Blair County Court based upon allegations of domestic violence. The PFA Order prohibited the client from having any contact with his wife, including a prohibition on making phone calls. The client had been working for 12 hours of a 24 hour shift, had undergone a very emotional situation as his terminally ill mother was transported to the hospital, and the client mistakenly called his wife when he was intending to call his employer in an attempt to find someone to replace him on the shift. The client apologized to his wife for the call and hung up the phone. The call lasted less than 10 seconds. The client's wife contacted the police and informed the police that she wanted the client to be prosecuted for violating the PFA Order based upon the unintended phone call.
Challenge to PFA Violation by Altoona Defense Attorney
The client was charged with Indirect Criminal Contempt, and the case proceeded to a hearing before a Blair County judge. At the hearing, the client testified that he mistakenly called his wife because her number was somewhat similar to his employer's number and that he was distracted because his mother was dying. The client testified that he did not intentionally call his wife, and, after discovering the error, he apologized and immediately hung up. Phone records confirmed that the client called his employer immediately after terminating the call with his wife. The district attorney argued that the client was guilty on Indirect Criminal Contempt because he made the call and thereby violated the PFA. Experienced Altoona criminal defense attorney Jason S. Dunkle argued that the client should be found not guilty because the client did not intentionally make the call, and the client did not have the wrongful intent that is required for a conviction of Indirect Criminal Contempt. The Blair County judge found the client not guilty of Indirect Criminal Contempt.