August 24, 2016
If you feel you are in danger of being abused, or have recently been abused, it is important to understand how to obtain a protective order in Maryland. There are certain qualifications that must be met to obtain a protective order, as well as three types of orders. If you are in an abusive situation you probably feel overwhelmed and scared, so we at Okun/Billian want to make sure you understand what steps you need to take in as clear and concise a manner as we can. Below is a general overview of what is needed to obtain a protective order as well as the types of orders you can seek.
What Qualifies you for a Protective Order
If you have been a victim of abuse, you have a right to file for a protective order, or for a peace order. Protective orders can be for cases of abuse, whether physical or emotional, threats of abuse, and stalking. Protective orders can be obtained by relatives of the abuser, spouses, ex-spouses, co-parents, people cohabitating with their abuser or sexually active with the abuser (both in the past and/or present) or a vulnerable adult (such as someone with a handicap of some type). If you do not fall into one of these categories you can file for a peace order, which also prevents contact and communication between the two parties. A Peace Order is for a shorter duration.
Interim Protective Order
An interim protective order is your first step in protecting yourself. If you find yourself in need of protection during hours that the courts are closed, you can obtain an interim protective order from the district commissioner’s office, which is always open. While filling out the petition it is essential to list any examples of abuse, and at this time you can also file for assistance if you are dependent on the abuser. After filing your petition you will see the Commissioner who will determine the validity of your case. If you receive an interim protective order from the Commissioner, you will have two business days to go before the court to obtain a temporary protective order.
Temporary Protective Order
Your next step in obtaining long term protection is to appear at the district court and be seen by a judge. If your initial request for a Protective Order is during regular court hours, your petition will be filed in the District or Circuit Court instead of with a Court Commissioner. If your abuser has been served with an interim order and chooses to appear at court with you, it is possible that the judge may decide to go ahead and hold a final protective order at that time, as long as both parties consent to the conducting of the hearing at this time. If not, the temporary protective order will last for no more than seven days, during which time another hearing will be scheduled including both parties.
Final Protective Order
A final protective order can be obtained after the first two steps have been completed and provides long term relief for the abused party. In order to obtain a final or long term order both parties must appear for a hearing before a judge. Should your abuser decide not to appear after being served for the hearing, they may by default be served the protective order, forgoing their right to represent themselves. Should the judge grant the order, they can order that the abuser not have contact with you, and can also order that they leave your home or residence.
If you or someone you love is suffering from abuse of any kind and needs to seek protection, contact us at Okun/Billian so we can help walk you through your next steps. Legal “red tape” can make a scary time even more intimidating and scary, but we are here for you and can help you navigate what steps you need to take.