If you have experienced domestic violence or someone is threatening your safety, you probably wonder how to go about getting a protective order. The state of Maryland allows people who have been going through some type of abuse to seek protection through a Peace Order or Protective Order. You can get a protective order against the person who is hurting you or threatening you that requires them to stay away from you and your children. These types of orders are often referred to as restraining orders in other states.
Domestic Violence and Protection Orders
Domestic violence victims can apply for a protective order at Maryland district and circuit courts. When applying for a protective order, the person allegedly abusing the victim is called the respondent. The person filing the petition for a protective order is called the petitioner. The petitioner needs to prove that he or she:
- Has a child with the respondent
- Used to be married to the respondent or is currently married to the respondent
- Lived with the respondent for at least 90 days within a one-year time frame
- Is related to the respondent by adoption, blood, or marriage
- Is a parent’s, stepchild, or stepparent
- Had sexual relationships with the respondent within the last 12 months
Filing a Petition for a Protective Order in Maryland
Applying for a protective order in Maryland is usually a three-step process. During the first step of the process, you will receive an interim order. After that, the court will schedule a hearing. During the hearing, both the respondent and the petitioner will be present in court and present their evidence and arguments. Once the court issues the protective order, they will require the accused person to stay away from the victim for 12 months. The court does have the power to extend this amount of time.
Petitioning for a Peace Order
Sometimes people assume that you need to prove that domestic violence occurred to get a Maryland protective order. However, even those who are not involved in a domestic abuse situation but are the victims of other types of abuse can file for a type of protective order called a peace order. You will need to petition the district court to grant you a peace order. After you initially petition, the court can issue an interim order and then hold a hearing.
You will need to face the response at the hearing and prove that the court should issue the peace order. After the court issues a peace order, the respondent must stay away from the petitioner for at least six months. If the petitioner still fears for his or her safety during this period, he or she can petition the court again to extend the order for another six months. If you think you need a peace order, or if you have been served a petition for a peace order, you need to speak to an experienced Maryland attorney about your situation. Those who have been involved in the following situations can petition the court for a peace order:
- Any acts that make you fearful of bodily harm
- Any acts committed against you that result in serious bodily harm
- Sexual assault or rape
- Attempted sexual assault or rape
- Restraining someone without having legal authority to do so
- Destroying the petitioner’s property with malicious intent
- Using an electronic communication device or phone to intimidate or hurt someone
What Do Peace Orders and Protective Orders Do?
When a judge finds that the petitioner is eligible for a protective or peace order, the judge will issue it. Judges do have some discretion about the terms in the order. They can include other types of relief that will help the petitioner feel safe and protected. In a peace order, the accused can be ordered to:
- Stop threatening to abuse you or abusing you
- Keep a certain amount of distance away from your home, place of work, school, or any other location where you may be present
- Turn in his or her firearm to a law enforcement agency in Maryland
- Not possess any firearms during the time frame of the peace order
- Not have any unlawful or lawful contact with you
- Turn around and walk away if he or she does see you
- Refrain from contacting you in any way, whether digital or physical
In protective orders, the judge can require the respondent to:
- Give you temporary ownership and use of a shared residence
- Give you temporary custody of your pets and minor children, when applicable
- Provide you with temporary financial support
Facing Criminal Charges for Violating a Protective Order or Peace Order
Maryland courts typically take peace orders and protective orders seriously. When a respondent violates a peace order, the court can charge him or her with a criminal act. In some cases, the court will sentence the respondent to jail time for violating a protective order or peace order. It can be easy not to take protective orders or peace orders seriously, but if you violate a protective order or peace order and you have been charged with a crime, you need to contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Your freedom could be at stake. Your defense lawyer will provide you with a successful legal defense and help you protect your rights.
About Brian Bishop
Brian Bishop started the Bishop Law Group in October 2018. Mr. Bishop is an active member of Maryland Association of Justice, The American Association of Justice, The Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys. Mr. Bishop has received a nationally ranked Top 40 Under 40 Attorney award since 2017. Mr. Bishop has also been named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers. The American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys has named Brian Bishop as one of The 10 Best Attorneys for Outstanding Client Services.