Sadly, sometimes a relationship can become abusive. If you find yourself in an abusive relationship, you can use legal resources to protect yourself from an abusive partner. We have caring and compassionate professionals to assist you through the legal process. Our legal professionals will ensure that you get protection, and stay protected, from your abuser. In Maryland, this legal protection comes from protective orders and peace orders.
What is a protective order?
You’ve probably heard of a restraining order or a stay-away order. In Maryland, we call those orders a protective order. A protective order is a circuit court judge’s decree (or judgment) that prevents one person from committing certain acts against another person. Protective orders are most commonly used in situations of domestic abuse.
What is the difference between a protective order and a peace order?
A protective order provides protection to people in personal relationships, such as spouses or family members. Peace orders apply to all other personal relationships such as neighbors.
Our focus here is on protective orders.
Who is eligible for a protective order?
To qualify for a protective order, you must have a relationship with the person you are accusing of abuse (also known as the respondent). The type of relationship includes:
- a current or former spouse of the abuser;
- a cohabitant of the abuser;
- related to the abuser by blood, marriage, or adoption;
- a parent, stepparent, child, or stepchild of the abuser or the person eligible for the order who resides (or resided) with the abuser or person eligible for the order for at least 90 days the year before the petition is filed;
- a vulnerable adult, such as someone with a mental disability;
- you share a child with the abuser;
- have had a sexual relationship with the abuser within one year of filing for the order;
- you allege that within six months before the filing of the petition, the abuser committed rape or a sexual offense, or an attempted rape or a sexual offense.
If you are not in one of these kinds of relationships, you should explore your eligibility for a peace order.
What qualifies as abuse for a protective order?
In order to get a protective order, you must be able to prove that abuse occurred. This part of the process can be traumatic, but it’s important for future legal proceedings and to prevent misuse of the system.
The following acts qualify as abuse in Maryland:
- Assault such as punching, slapping, kicking, biting, choking, or shoving
- Rape or other sexual assault
- Attempted rape or sexual assault
- Threat of violence
- False imprisonment
- Mental injury to a child
- Revenge porn, such as the distribution of sexual pictures or videos
To best ensure that the court issues you a protective order, it’s important for you to collect proof (evidence) of abuse to present to the court. This proof, when possible, should include pictures of any wounds or bruises received from abuse, copies of police reports, and witness testimonials.
How can a protective order protect me from further abuse?
A protective order goes through stages. Each stage can provide different levels of protection. Whether or not the court orders any or all of these protections will depend on the event, such as if an order involves a child.
A protective order may require the abuser to do any or all of the following:
- stop abusing or threatening you;
- stay away from you and not try to contact you or harass you at your home, school, job, the place where you may be staying, from your children’s school(s), and from your family members’ homes;
- stay out of your home;
- if you and the abuser are married and were living together at the time of the abuse:
- order the abuser to leave the home where the two of you live; and
- award you temporary custody of the children;
- if you are not married to the abuser, but were living together at the time of the abuse and your name is on the lease or the home’s deed, the court can order the abuser to leave the home;
- if you are not married to the abuser and you lived with the abuser for at least ninety (90) days within the past year, the court can order the abuser to leave the home;
- award temporary possession of any pet;
- surrender any firearm to law enforcement authorities in the abuser’s possession, provided the abuser caused or threatened to cause serious bodily injury or used or threatened to use a firearm against you;
- any other relief that a judge determines to be necessary to protect you from abuse.
How do I file for a protective order?
You can petition for immediate protection 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from your District Court Commissioner’s office. The protective order can provide protection for days or weeks. Long-term protection requires a court hearing with a judge and can provide protection for up to one year. To begin filing for a protective order, first file a Petition for Protection from Domestic Violence, or form CC-DC-DV-001, and a form called the Addendum-Description of Respondent or form CC-DC-DV-001A with your District Court Commissioner’s Office. You can also find the links online at the Commissioner’s office.
What if I need help filing a protective order?
Filing for legal action against your abuser can be scary and traumatic when you are still dealing with the aftermath of abuse. Working with the professional attorneys at Albers & Associates can make the process easier because they can help you file for protection against your abuser. Contact us today for more information or to set up your free legal consultation. Albers & Associates is here for you with offices in Baltimore City, Columbia, Towson, Dundalk, and Westminster.