What is abuse?

Maryland law defines “abuse” as one or more of the following acts: (1) Assault (examples: hitting, pushing, pulling, grabbing, biting, scratching). (2) An act that places the victim in fear of immediate serious bodily harm or actually causes the victim serious bodily harm (examples: throwing an object at the victim, putting a fist through a wall, breaking through a locked or closed door, blocking a victim’s exit from a room). (3) Attempted or actual rape or other sexual offense. (4) Stalking. (5) False imprisonment, such as holding the victim somewhere against the victim’s will. (6) Any act that would be considered child abuse under Maryland law.

What Is A Protective Order?

A “Protective Order” is a form of relief available from the court for victims of domestic violence. A protective order is a court order that usually requires an abuser to stay away from a victim, forbids contact with a victim, and forbids more abuse. An interim, temporary or final protective order can set other limits on the abuser. In Maryland, a person is eligible for a Protective Order if they: are the current or former spouse of the alleged abuser, have a child with the alleged abuser, had an intimate relationship and lived with the alleged abuser for 90 days within the last year or are related by blood or marriage to the alleged abuser.

To obtain a Protective Order, the victim must prove one of the following acts occurred: an act that causes serious bodily harm or places the victim in fear of imminent serious bodily harm, assault of any degree, rape or sexual offense or attempted rape or sexual offense, false imprisonment, child abuse, or stalking.

Under a Protective Order, the Judge may order: the alleged abuser to stop the abuse, stay away from the victim, children or other family members, stop contacting the victim, vacate the family home, pay emergency financial support, attend counseling and surrender firearms. The Judge may also award temporary child custody, visitation and use and possession of the family home and/or jointly owned car. Protective Orders may be issued for up to one year.

What rules can an interim, temporary or final protective order put on an accused abuser?

Under interim or temporary protective orders, a judge can require that the accused abuser: (1) Not abuse or threaten to abuse the victim. (2) Not contact, try to contact, or harass the victim. (3) Stay away from home, school, job, or temporary residence of the victim. (4) Stay away from a child’s school, and from the homes of the victim’s family members. (5) Not enter the marital residence, and the grounds around the residence, of the victim. (6) Leave the residence of the victim if the victim and accused abuser live together. (7) Not have contact or visitation with any children of the victim and the accused. (8) Surrender any firearms the accused abuser has, depending on what abuse was claimed. (9) Not keep possession of a pet.

In a Final Protective Order, a judge can order anything that could have been ordered in a temporary protective order, must order that the abuser surrender all firearms, and can also: (1) Order the abuser temporary visitation with children. (2) Award the victim emergency family financial support. (3) Award the victim use and possession of a jointly titled car. (4) Order the abuser into supervised counseling or a domestic violence program. (5) Order the abuser to pay filing fees and court costs. Protective Orders may be issued for up to one year.

What Is A Peace Order?

A “Peace Order” is a form of relief available from the court when a person has problems with another individual, such as someone the person is dating, a neighbor or a stranger.

If a person is eligible to file for a “Protective Order” against domestic violence, he or she is not eligible to file for a Peace Order.

In Maryland, a person eligible for a Peace Order must prove one of the following acts occurred within the last 30 days: an act that causes serious bodily harm, an act that places the person in fear of imminent bodily harm, assault in any degree, rape or sexual offense, false imprisonment, harassment, stalking, trespassing or malicious destruction of property. A person must also show that the act is likely to happen again.

Under a Peace Order, the Judge may order an individual to refrain from threatening or committing an act, end all contact, stay away from the victim’s home, place of employment or school. The Judge may also order the parties to participate in joint or individual counseling and/or joint mediation. Peace Orders may be issued for up to 6 months.

What Is Considered Stalking?

Under Maryland law, “stalking” is defined as approaching or pursuing another where one knows or reasonably should have known the conduct would place another in reasonable fear of serious bodily harm, assault, rape or sexual offense or attempted rape or sexual offense, false imprisonment or death. Stalking is also conduct that will likely cause another to suffer the above offenses, regardless of what the alleged stalker knew or should have known.  You no longer need to prove a specific intent to cause harm to another.

Violation of the stalking statute is a felony, rather than a misdemeanor, punishable by fine and/or imprisonment, and can be used as grounds for a protective order or peace order.

Are orders for protection issued in other states enforceable in Maryland?

An order for protection issued elsewhere in the United States is valid in Maryland to the extent that what the order requires is permitted under Maryland law.

Have any questions about this topic, please call me (301) 231-0927.