In October of 1992, Maryland passed an expansive civil protective law that ensures victims of domestic violence can protect themselves and their children no matter the time of day or night. This law allows the victim to apply for a civil protective order — sometimes known as a restraining order — as well as financial support, temporary custody of children, and other relief from the court.
Hecht & Associates provides assistance with applying for civil protective orders, as well as a number of other related legal services. If you fear your spouse or partner, call our civil protective orders attorney today at 301-587-2099 to learn more about your options.
If you believe you are in immediate danger, call the police and we can discuss your case once you are in a safe environment.
Who is eligible for a civil protective order in Maryland?
In order to qualify to apply for a civil protective disorder, you must have a certain relationship with the abuser. If you meet any of the following criteria, you are eligible:
- Married to the abuser
- Related to the abuser
- Previously married to the abuser
- Have a child with the abuser
- Currently living with the abuser
- Living with the user for at least three months of the previous year
- Having a sexual relationship with the abuser
- Having a sexual relationship with the abuser within the last year
- The stepparent or stepchild of an abuser, with some limitations
- A vulnerable adult, such as those with disabilities
Even if you do not qualify for a civil protective order, Hecht & Associates may be able to help you file for a peace order, which offers many of the same protections. Call us today at 301-587-2099 to learn more about either of these options.
When do I need a protective order?
Any time you or your child is a victim of abuse — or you have reason to believe you may become a victim of abuse — a civil protective order may be necessary. Some of the most common reasons people seek this type of protection includes:
- Physical abuse, including choking, shoving, hitting, kicking, biting, etc.
- Threats of assault or other harm
- Any act that makes you fear serious harm
- Rape or attempted rape
- Sexual assault or attempted sexual assault
- Holding you against your will
- Physical, mental, or emotional injury to a child
How can I get a restraining order?
Your county courthouse is open 24 hours a day for those who need to apply for civil protective orders. If you need one immediately, many courthouses offer assistance with the initial application, called a Petition for Protection.
If you can contact Hecht & Associates beforehand, we can walk you through this process. Hecht & Associates can also help you file for Emergency Family Maintenance when you file this petition. Even if you begin the process without legal representation, it is a good idea to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible after applying for the order of protection.
When you apply for a restraining order, it is paramount that you list every example of threats or abuse between the abuser and you or your children. We can help you compile this list, as well as the documentation needed to prove this history of abuse. This is important, because Maryland law requires you to prove your case by a “preponderance of evidence” (i.e., at least 51 percent of your evidence proves something). Common evidence in these cases includes:
- Pictures of your injuries
- Medical records
- Witness statements
- Police reports
- Court documents
What can I expect in court?
In order to ensure you receive protection as soon as possible, you will see a judge within 24 hours of filing a Petition for Protection. As long as you provided reasonable grounds for a civil protective order on your application, the judge should issue a temporary restraining order.
Depending on your situation and you needs, this order may:
- Grant you temporary custody of a child or children
- Order the abuser to refrain from abusing you
- Order the abuser to stop harassment or stalking
- Order the abuser to stop all contact with you
- Force the abuser to leave your shared home
- Keep the abuser from your home, workplace, children’s school, and daycare
A police officer will serve the order upon the abuser, which becomes effective immediately upon receipt. This order usually lasts for seven days, and a hearing for a final civil protective order is necessary before this expires. The judge will notify you of this date.
What can a restraining order do?
Once the judge reviews the evidence against your abuser, the court will rule on whether or not there is enough evidence to show abuse occurred. If the evidence supports it, the final protective order could force the abuser to:
- Stop all threats and harassment
- Cease all contact
- Stay away from your home, workplace, and places where your children stay
- Move out of a shared home
- Pay monetary support, including spousal support and child support
- Turn over a shared automobile to you
- Surrender any firearms or other weapons
- Participate in a counseling, anger management or addiction recovery program
In addition, these orders can also offer protection to your children or pets by giving you temporary custody. While most civil protective orders last for one year, some circumstances allow for adding an additional six months to this period. Hecht & Associates can help you ensure you and your family receive the protection you need to the extent the legal system allows.
We are available by phone at 301-587-2099. We can review your case and take action to ensure your physical and emotional health — as well as your assets — receive the protection you deserve. Call us today to discuss your options to protect yourself and your family.