Guide to Obtaining a Protective Order Maryland
MD Criminal Lawyer discusses a protective order Maryland, what it is all about, laws surrounding protective orders, how to file, and more.
Understanding the Difference Between a Protective Order and Peace Order
A protective order enforces your rights and protects you from harassment, abuse, and threats. It can be issued by a District Court or Circuit Court in Maryland. If you are being harassed, threatened, or abused by someone, you can request a protective order. A protective order can help safeguard your safety and act as an emergency family maintenance tool.
A peace order is issued when a person believes that another person may cause them harm. Unlike a peace order, a protective order can only be issued in situations where there has been physical abuse, sexual abuse, or threats of physical abuse or sexual abuse.
Is a Peace Order the Same as a Protective Order?
Peace orders and protective orders are similar – it is a three-step procedure involving an interim protective order or a peace order, a temporary hearing, as well as a final protective order hearing. However, protective orders apply if individuals are in a family-like or sexual relationship, while peace orders apply to all other relationships.
Only certain individuals can file for a protective order, and they are defined as a person eligible for relief. These individuals include a former or a current spouse, cohabitant, person related by marriage, blood, or adoption, a vulnerable adult, as well as a person who has a child with the individual against whom a protective order is being filed.
However, if an individual is experiencing a certain kind of abuse but is not eligible for a temporary protective order, they may file for a peace order.
What Are the Maryland Rules for Protective Orders?
Maryland’s rules on protective orders are called The Maryland Rules for Protective Orders. They can be found in the Rules of Procedure for Family Law Matters under Rule 4-402.
The Maryland Rules for Protective Orders are similar to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP), but with these significant differences:
- Under Rule 4-402(a), a party may file a protective order request with the court if another party has an immediate threat of abuse or harassment against them.
- A protective order request may also be filed if there is an immediate threat against someone other than the party filing for protection if such an action may jeopardize that person’s safety.
- In addition, Rule 4-402(b) states that a protective order request can be filed even if criminal charges have not been filed against anyone. This rule applies even if both parties agree not to pursue criminal charges. However, this does not mean that both parties agree on whether the court should issue a protective order.
How to Get a Protective Order in Maryland
You will need to file a personal protection petition with the District Court in the county you live in.
Do this within ten days of the incident occurring or within ten days after you knew about it if it happened outside your county.
You should also make at least two copies of your petition for yourself and one copy for each person named in your petition. Consider taking notes on what happened when you go to court so you will have them with you when needed.
The county clerk’s office has the relevant forms available, but they can also be found online. The state offers a helpful guide to Protective Orders here.
What Should be Included in a Petition for a Protective Order?
A Petition for Protective Order may be filed in the Circuit Court of a county where the petitioner resides.
A petitioner can also file a Petition for Protective Order in any county where the respondent resides or works. You can deliver your petition to the District Court Commissioner if the courts are closed.
In your petition, you must establish that you or your child has been abused or threatened with abuse by your spouse/ex-spouse/or former cohabitant. The abuse must be a pattern of conduct rather than an isolated incident. The abuse must be of such frequency that it would frighten an ordinary person and interfere with their ability to function normally.
Filing a Maryland Temporary Protective Order
Your first step is locating the court clerk of your local District Court or Circuit Court.
You will need to bring proof of any previous criminal charges brought against the individual in question and any evidence you have regarding recent threats made by this person toward you or your family members.
The clerk will provide you with paperwork outlining all of the details about filing for a protective order in Maryland, including forms and directions for submitting evidence and documentation supporting your request for protection from an abuser at home, work, school, or any other applicable place.
There is a filing charge of $46 and a service fee of $40. The court may waive only the filing fee for disadvantaged petitioners.
Consult an assault lawyer to ensure that your protective order application is thorough and legally persuasive.
Tips on Filling Out a Protective Order Form
Below is some important information about filling out your protective order form:
- Include your current legal name and any previous name(s) if you have changed your names since getting married or divorced
- Include all contact details for yourself and anyone else involved in the case.
- If there are any children involved in this matter, include their names and birth dates and their relationship to each party
- Write down all facts about what happened when you felt threatened by the respondent. Include dates and times of events that happened recently or long ago (up to ten years ago).
- Write down all events leading up to your feeling threatened by the respondent.
You should seek the help of a domestic violence lawyer to make sure that the form has the right amount of details and is filled out correctly.
How Long Do Protective Orders Last in Maryland?
The duration for which a protective order lasts depends on whether you are requesting an ex parte emergency protective order, an extended emergency protective order, or a final protective order.
An emergency protective order lasts until its expiration date unless another judge extends it later. An extended emergency protective order lasts until its expiration date. But it cannot exceed two years in length, no matter when it was issued. From a final protective order hearing, it expires automatically after one year unless another judge has extended it at least 60 days before its expiration date.
For all types of protective orders (ex parte, emergency, and final), only one extension can be granted per case without additional evidence being presented to the court for review and approval before granting any subsequent extensions beyond the initial temporary protective order hearing.
Although a protective order may expire, the terms of the order continue to apply until they expire or are modified by a court order. This means that, even after a protective order expires, an individual who violates the terms of the order may still be subject to arrest and charges for violating the order.
What to Do if You Receive a Protective Order
Receiving protective orders can be a life-altering experience. However, it is highly recommended not to ignore a protective order in Maryland, even if it is an interim protective order, because of the following reasons:
- If convicted of violating a domestic violence protective order, you could spend time in jail. This is because domestic violence, just like imminent serious bodily harm, is a serious crime in Maryland.
- You could lose your rights to see your children if you ignore the terms of your protective order. The judge may also award temporary custody of any children to the petitioner.
A judge determines whether to grant a final protective order after a formal hearing from both parties. However, you can still submit an appeal after the final hearing.
Contact a criminal defense lawyer at Paolo Gnocchi of Scrofano Law PC today to discuss your rights and options.
What You Should Know About Violating a Maryland Protective Order
If you violate a protective order in the State of Maryland, you could be arrested and charged with a crime. A violation of a protective order is a misdemeanor in Maryland.
Violating this type of order can result in severe consequences if convicted of such an offense. For example, a person who violates a protective order could face up to three years in prison, a $1,000 fine, or both penalties for each order violation.
A person who violates the protective order more than once within two years could face up to 5 years in prison, a $2,500 fine, or both penalties for each count of the violation.
Consult our domestic violence attorney if a law enforcement officer has arrested you for violating a protective order.