Frequently Asked Questions

Q. I was the victim of crime. Do I need to get an attorney?
A. It is not necessary for you to get an attorney. The Office of the District Attorney is the prosecutor for the Commonwealth. They represent your interests.

Q. I was the victim of crime. Where can I go for help?
A. Refer to the Victim Assistance Program section for a listing of the services available from the District Attorney’s Office and additional resources available to you as a victim of crime.

Q. What is a subpoena?
A. If you are a victim of crime or a witness to a crime, you will receive a subpoena. A subpoena is an order directing you to appear as a witness in court. You may not ignore such an order – you will be required to appear at the time and place stated on the subpoena. The subpoena may be delivered through the mail or in person. Please notify the District Attorney’s Office upon receipt of the subpoena. The information needed to contact the office is stamped in red on the document. Please save the subpoena and bring it with you to the District Attorney’s Office on the date and time you are told to report for trial.

Q. What is the purpose of bail?
A. Bail is used to ensure the defendant’s appearance in court. Bail is set by a Magisterial District Judge at the time of the preliminary hearing. The seriousness of the crime is only one of the factors considered when setting bail. Also considered is the status of the defendant’s employment, family, age, residence and any other factors relevant to the defendant’s release when money, property or bond is posted for bail. If bail is not posted, the defendant will remain in custody until able to post bail.

Q. What happens if one of the persons arrested in my case is a juvenile?
A. A juvenile is a person who is under the age of 18 years of age when a crime occurs. If a juvenile is arrested, the juvenile’s case is separated from the adult defendant. For further information contact our Juvenile Court Services Victim Witness Coordinators office at (570) 495-

Q. What is A.R.D.?
A. A.R.D. stands for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition. Cases involving less serious offenses and defendants with very little or no criminal record are routinely placed in the A.R.D. program. Defendants placed into the program must agree to a probationary sentence with conditions imposed by the judge such as restitution to the victim. If the defendant completes the sentence, any record is automatically expunged. If the defendant fails to complete the sentence, they will be revoked from the program and the case will go to trial.

Q. Can you provide me with legal advice?
A. No. The District Attorney’s Office cannot give advisory opinions, that is, we can not offer legal advice relating to a criminal act or a particular criminal case.

Q. Where do I file for child custody?
A. Northumberland County Custody and PFA Office located in the Northumberland County Courthouse, 201 Market Street, Sunbury, PA 17801 (570) 988-4172

Q. Does the District Attorney provide assistance with child custody matters?
A. No. The District Attorney’s Office does not handle child custody cases.

Q. Where do I file for child support?

A. Northumberland County Domestic Relations, 609 Market Street, Sunbury, PA 17801 (570) 988-4227

Q. What is a PFA? 
A. PFA stands for Protection From Abuse and is a restraining order. In order to petition the Court for a PFA, you must be, or have been, in a relationship with or a family member of the person against whom you want to file. Under the Protection From Abuse Act, abuse is defined as physical abuse, a threat which places you in immediate fear of physical injury, or a pattern of conduct which place you in immediate fear of physical injury.

Q. How do I get a PFA?
A. An Emergency Order can be issued by a Magisterial District Judge after 3:00 on a business day or when the Court of Common Pleas is closed. An emergency order is in effect until the end of the next business day of the Court of Common Pleas. You must report to the Court of Common Pleas to have a Temporary order issued. (See below)

If you feel you are in danger,
Dial 9-1-1

Law enforcement will assist you in obtaining an emergency protection order after normal business hours.

Susquehanna Valley Women in Transition can also assist you in obtaining a Protection From Abuse Order as well as other valuable services. To contact them call their 24 hour hotline at 1-800-850-7948.

A Temporary Order stays in effect until the hearing for a Final PFA is held. You will need to report to the Court Administrator’s Office on the 2nd floor of the Northumberland County Courthouse at 201 Market Street, Sunbury, PA. You will be given a petition to apply for the Temporary Order. Please be award that the process can take several hours to complete. Once the petition is completed, the clerk will type the order in the computer system, print out a Temporary Order and take it to a Judge for review. If after reviewing the petition, the judge signs the order, granting temporary protection, the court administration staff will provide you with further instructions regarding who needs to have copies of the order. (Copies are provided to you at the time the petition is granted.) Your case will then be scheduled for a Final PFA hearing within 10 days of the issuance of the temporary order.

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