For those suffering the horrors of domestic violence, Maryland law offers two primary remedies: the peace order and the protective order. One’s eligibility for either order is contingent upon a showing of abuse. Maryland statute defines abuse as (i) any act that causes serious bodily harm; (ii) an act that would reasonably place the victim in fear of imminent, serious bodily harm; (iii) assault in any degree; (iv) rape or sexual offense in any degree; (v) false imprisonment; or stalking. Peace orders have also statutorily expanded prohibited acts to include revenge porn. While peace orders are available to any alleged victim regardless of relation to the alleged perpetrator, protective orders carry additional requirements.
To successfully obtain a protective order, a petitioner must demonstrate a relationship of some sort to the accused, whether spousal, romantic, familial or parental. Regarding unmarried, romantic relationships, the petitioner must demonstrate that he/she is a cohabitant of the accused for at least 90 days within one year of filing. Additionally, a petitioner may seek a protective order on behalf of a minor child or vulnerable adult with whom he/she has relation to by blood or adoption.
There are three types of protective order available under Maryland law. One may seek an interim protective order by filing a Petition for Protection from Domestic Violence with the office of the District Court commissioner, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, when courts are closed. The interim order will state the date, time and location of the hearing for a temporary protective order. It will also set a tentative date for a final protective order hearing and the interim order expires within two business days of issuance, or on the date of the hearing for the temporary order, whichever occurs first. Temporary protective orders can remain in effect for up to six months. Final protective orders typically remain in effect for one year with the option to extend for an additional six months. In the event that both petitioner and respondent mutually consent, a final protective order can be effective for up to two years. In extreme cases, a judge may order that the final protective order remain permanent.
Under the terms of a protective order, a judge can order: that the abuser cease threatening, harassing, or otherwise contacting the victim; that the abuser vacate the premises in which he/she cohabited with the victim; that the abuser attend counseling; that the abuser relinquish possession of firearms; that the abuser stay away from his/her children’s school or childcare facility; modification of the abuser’s child custody and visitation rights; modification of pet custody; temporary restriction of the abuser’s rights to any car which he/she co-owns with the victim or; any other relief which the judge determines necessary to prevent further abuse. In the event the abuser violates the terms of the protective order, he/she may be convicted of a misdemeanor and subject to a $500 fine and/or 90 days imprisonment. Repeat offenses can result in steeper fines and sentences. If you believe that you are the victim of abuse or that you have been unfairly accused of having committed domestic abuse, it is vital that you contact an attorney experienced in handling such matters.
If you have any questions about this topic or other family law matters, please contact us.
If you believe that you are the victim of abuse, get help right away or contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233
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