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PROTECTIVE ORDERS

A Protective Order is an Order issued by the Court which requires that an abuser stay away from his/her victim for a stated period of time. Protective Orders are available to victims of domestic violence.

How do I know if I am eligible for a Protective Order?
What is "abuse" in terms of a Protective Order?
What do I have to prove in order to obtain a Protective Order?
What relief is abailable to me through a Protective Order?
What is the process of obtaining a Protective Order?
How long does a Protective Order remain in effect?
Can a Protective Order ever be extended or modified?


How do I know if I am eligible for a Protective Order?

To be a Personal Eligible for Relief (PEFR) you must meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • You are a current or former spouse of the abuser
  • You are a cohabitant of the abuser
  • You are a person related to the abuser by blood, marriage, or adoption
  • You are a vulnerable adult
  • You are someone who has a child in common with the abuser 

What is “abuse” in terms of a Protective Order?

In order to be eligible for a Protective Order, you must be a victim of domestic violence. Abuse has been defined by the Maryland Laws as the following:

  • An act that causes serious bodily harm;
  • An act that places person eligible for relief in fear of imminent serious bodily harm;
  • assault in any degree;
  • rape or sexual offense;
  • false imprisonment; or
  • stalking

What do I have to prove in order to obtain a Protective Order?

In order to obtain a protective order, you and your attorney will have to prove in Court that (1) you are a Person Eligible for Relief (PEFR) and (2) you are the victim of abuse. 


What relief is available to me through a Protective Order?

Protective Orders may offer many forms of relief to victims of domestic abuse. The relief that is afforded under your protective order will depend upon the specific facts and circumstances of your case. The following relief can be available through a protective order:

  • Order abuser to stop abusing or threatening the victim
  • Order abuser to stop contacting the victim
  • Forbid abuser from entering residence of the victim
  • Order abuser to vacate the victim’s property
  • Establish temporary custody and/or visitation of children
  • Award emergency family maintenance
  • Award use and possession of jointly titled car or residence
  • Require the abuser to attend counseling
  • Order the abuser to surrender all firearms
  • Order the respondent to pay filing fees and court costs

What is the process of obtaining a Protective Order?

If you feel you are the victim of domestic abuse, you should immediately contact an attorney to help you get the relief you need. As of October 1, 2014, the standard for proving abuse is preponderance of the evidence, which means, the greater weight of the evidence is in support of the Petitioner. There will typically be two court appearances (usually a week apart).

  • First Court Appearance - Temporary Protective Order

    First, a Petitioner must go to the appropriate courthouse and file a Petition for Protective Order. There is a form for Petitions for Protective Orders available in the clerk’s office. On that same day, the Petitioner will appear before a Judge and present the reason(s) for filing the Petition for Protective Order. At this stage, the alleged abuser (or the Respondent) is typically not present in Court and there are usually not attorneys. It is an informal hearing in which a Judge will typically ask the Petitioner questions in order to ascertain what happened. If a Judge finds reason to believe that abuse occurred, the Judge will grant a Temporary Protective Order, which means the alleged abuser must stay away from the Petition on a temporary basis. Temporary Protective Orders remain in effect for seven (7) days.

  • Second Court Appearance - Final Protective Order

    Upon the granting of the Temporary Protective Order, the Judge will also schedule the final hearing (at which a Final Protective Order can be granted. This hearing will be held seven (7) days after the Temporary Protective Order is granted. It is at this stage that both the Petitioner and the Respondent will be in Court and will present their respective cases. Due to the importance of Petitions for Protective Orders (whether you are a victim in need or protection or someone who was falsely accused), it is recommended to have an attorney represent you at this final stage. It is at this final hearing the applicant must meet the statutory standard of proof of clear and convincing evidence. 


How long does a Protective Order remain in effect?

A protective order can remain in effect for up to one year.


Can a Protective Order ever be extended or modified?

Yes - a Protective Order can be modified or extended based on “good cause shown”. 

 

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