Everything You Need to Know About Maryland Protective Orders
January 13th, 2023
Trigger warning: domestic abuse. Protective orders, restraining orders, peace orders — what’s the difference? How long does an interim protective order last versus a temporary protective order? Can you file a protective order for your child? Is a Maryland protective order considered a criminal charge, and does it go on your record?
If you’re thinking of filing a Maryland protective order against your abuser or have just had a protective order filed against you, you’ve probably asked yourself (or the internet) some of these questions. If so, you’ve come to the right place.
In this blog post, I’ll break down everything you need to know about Maryland protective orders — for both the petitioner and the respondent. Throughout the post, I’ll refer to a person filing the protective order as the “petitioner” and a person against whom an order is filed as the “respondent.” Let’s dive in.
What Is a Protective Order?
So, what is a protective order? Is it the same as a restraining order? Well, sort of, but not completely. Protective orders are Maryland’s form of relief for domestic abuse victims. While the reasons for filing one can vary, in order for attain a Maryland protective order (or be served with one), the following must be proved:
- An act that caused serious bodily harm or that placed the victim in fear of imminent, serious bodily harm
- An assault of any degree
- Rape or sexual offense or attempted rape or sexual offense
- False imprisonment
- Child abuse
- Revenge porn
Who can file a Maryland protective order?
This is where a protective order differs from a restraining order. In Maryland, the petitioner is eligible to file a protective order so long as he or she has at least one of the following relationships with the respondent:
- Is the current or former spouse of the alleged abuser
- Has a child with the alleged abuser
- Had an intimate relationship and lived with the alleged abuser for 90 days within the last year
- Is related by blood or marriage to the alleged abuser
If one of the above relationships can be established, then a temporary protective order can be granted until you attend a hearing where abuse (see list above) must be proved to attain the protective order. (More on that below.)
If you want a protective order for your child or for a vulnerable adult, you can absolutely file that for them — so long as the victim is a parent, step-parent, child, or step-child of you or the abuser.
What is a peace order?
Peace orders are more closely related to the common term restraining order, because they’re similar to protective orders but can be filed against almost anyone (think: neighbor, coworker, or even a stranger). You do not need to have a relationship with the respondent to file a peace order.
Some reasons to file a peace order include:
- Abuse, harassment, or stalking
- Trespassing or malicious destruction of property
- Misuse of telephone or electronic communication, revenge porn, or visual surveillance
Peace orders can last up to twelve months (with an extension), but typically are six months in length.
Types of Relief Maryland Protective Orders Offer
There are a few outcomes a judge can decide upon when granting a protective order. The details of these repercussions will be outlined in the protective order when presented to the respondent. The final order is often good for up to one year (plus sometimes an additional six months, for good cause) and can include:
- Ordering the respondent to not abuse, threaten to abuse, or contact the petitioner
- Ordering the respondent not to enter the residence of the petitioner
- Ordering the respondent to vacate the home
- Ordering the respondent to stay away from the petitioner’s place of work
- Ordering the respondent to stay away from the minor child’s child care
- Granting custody and access of minor children
- Ordering the respondent to pay emergency family maintenance
- Awarding use and possession of a jointly owned vehicle
- Awarding use and possession of a pet
- Ordering the respondent into counseling
- Ordering the respondent to turn over firearms
How Do I Get a Maryland Protective Order?
Straight talk: no, you don’t need a lawyer to file a protective order in Maryland. Is it helpful? Absolutely. And if the other party has a lawyer, you definitely need to lawyer up to ensure your rights are being protected. Regardless, if you’re the petitioner, here are the steps you’ll need to take:
1) Get the Petition
2) File your Paperwork
You’ll then file your papers at the courthouse. If courts are closed, you can file at the District Court Commissioner’s Office. That’s where an interim protective order comes into play. The commissioner can grant this order (for about two days until an ex parte hearing).
3) Attend an Ex parte Hearing
A judge will listen to your explanation of events and determine whether to issue a temporary protective order, which lasts approximately seven days, while your final hearing is being scheduled.
4) Attend a Final Hearing
Both parties will need to attend the final hearing and can provide testimony and evidence for their side of the case. If a final protective order is granted, it can last up to one year.
What If a Protective Order Is Filed Against Me?
On the flip side, if you are a respondent and have had an order filed against you, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
- This is not a criminal case, so you are not entitled to a public defender. If you contest your case, you’ll want to hire a lawyer.
- What type of Maryland protective order is it? Interim protective orders last about two days prior to a temporary protective order, which lasts about seven (until final protective order hearings are held). What you’ve been served determines how much time you have to build your case with your lawyer. Again, if you’ve already been served, it’s time to hire a lawyer.
- Once the respondent (presumably, you) has received notice, a final hearing will be scheduled. Both sides will be presented to a judge, and the petitioner will need to prove the abuse occurred more likely than not. Again, lawyer.
- You’ll also want proof of favorable behavior, which can include witnesses, electronic messages, social media activities, and more. Granted, the same forms of evidence can also be used against you — so keep that in mind. My advice: keep your digital history clean and organized. This will help keep your reputation in check and help your lawyer do his or her job better.
If you’re not interested in going to court, then your option is to consent to the protection order. It’s important to note that, while it’s not criminal, this protective order will appear on your record and the Maryland Judiciary Case Search. However, once the order has expired, if you consented to it, you may file a request to shield the court records. This request may or may not be granted.
Violating a Maryland Protective Order
Plain and simple: If a Maryland protective order is broken, then a crime has been committed — meaning criminal charges can be filed for violation. Those found guilty can face up to 90 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.
If you’ve wrongly had a protective order filed against you or you need to file a Maryland protective order against your abuser, reach out for a consultation at (301) 637-6070.
For more frequently asked questions on Maryland protective orders, visit my FAQs page.