No extra manpower or money will be needed for the district attorney's office.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- The Lawrence County District Attorney's Office is continuing its efforts to combat domestic violence.
District Attorney Matthew Mangino said his office will take over prosecuting people who violate court-issued, protection-from-abuse orders. The county's Neighborhood Legal Services previously had prosecuted people who ignored those court orders.
"We felt it would be better if we brought this into our office. It's not a reflection on anyone else, but this works well in the whole scheme of things involving our domestic violence prosecution team," he said.
John Bongivengo, assistant district attorney, was scheduled to appear in court today to handle the office's first three cases of protection order violators.
An average of four to five people are prosecuted each month for violating protection from abuse orders. Mangino said this new duty will not require any extra manpower or money for his office.
Court orders: Protection orders are given to spouses or others who fear physical violence from their intimate partner. A protection order generally instructs a person not to have contact with the person who fears physical violence.
Violating the court order could result in fines or jail time.
Mangino said the change should streamline prosecution efforts because many people who violate those orders also face criminal charges in the same matter.
There was a concern that that person could claim they were being prosecuted twice for the same crime because two different agencies were involved, he said.
Pamela Dalton-Arlotti, managing attorney for Neighborhood Legal Services, said the district attorney's office will have access to information and services that her office does not.
"The district attorney's office has the ability to use adult probation to make sure people comply [with protection orders]. Neighborhood Legal Services did not have that ability," she said. Her office could only seek jail time or fines from violators, Dalton-Arlotti said.
Jeanette Rice, executive director of the Women's Shelter/Rape Crisis Center in Lawrence County, said violators may take the court orders more seriously now that district attorney's office is handling prosecution.
"Over time this could serve as a deterrent. It's a crime, and it impacts everyone in the community," she said.