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4 FAQs on Protective Orders for Maryland Domestic Violence Victims


A protective order is a tool available to the Maryland state courts to help safeguard victims of domestic violence and other forms of abuse. When granted, these orders can prevent the perpetrator from contacting the victim and even grant possession of a shared residence. That being said, protective orders are not appropriate in every situation. Protective orders are only available to family or household members who suffered specific types of abuse.

  1. Which Types of Abuse Trigger a Protective Order?

As underlined in Maryland Code of Family Law Section 4-501, the following types of abuse enable a victim to request a protective order:

  • Assault (first or second degree);
  • Sexual Offense (third or fourth degree);
  • Rape (actual or attempted);
  • False imprisonment;
  • Revenge porn;
  • Stalking; or
  • Acts that result in serious harm or place the victim in fear of serious harm.
  1. Who Can File for a Protective Order?

Maryland law restricts the availability of protective orders to family or household members. In other words, domestic violence only occurs between perpetrator and victims who share a certain type of relationship. More specifically, the term family or household member refers to:

  • Current or former spouse(s);
  • People related by adoption, blood, or marriage;
  • Intimate partners (at least 90 days in the past year);
  • Caretakers who are responsible for vulnerable adults;
  • Stepparents and stepchildren who resided together (at least 90 days in the past year);
  • Parents who share at least one child together; and
  • People who had a sexual relationship (within the past year).
  1. What is the Effect of a Protective Order?

When granting an interim or temporary protective order, a Maryland state judge may order the perpetrator to:

  • Stop any further abuse;
  • Halt any contact with the victim at home, school, or work;
  • Refrain from going to the victim’s home or residence;
  • Cease any contact with the victim’s family or household members;
  • Relocate to a new residence, if the victim and perpetrator are living in the same place and meet certain conditions;
  • Award temporary child custody of any shared offspring; or
  • Grant temporary possession of any shared pets.

When granting final protective order, a Maryland state judge may:

  • Order any relief appropriate for an interim or temporary protective order;
  • Create a temporary child visitation schedule for the parents;
  • Require emergency family maintenance payments;
  • Award sole possession and use of a shared vehicle;
  • Compel the perpetrator to attend counseling, surrender firearms, and pay all legal fees; and
  • Grant any other relief necessary to protect the victim.
  1. What are the Penalties for Violating a Protective Order?

As exhibited in Maryland Code of Family Law Section 4-509, the penalties for violating a protective order are as follows:

  • First Offense — The offender can be subject to a maximum of $1,000 in fines and 90 days in prison; or
  • Second or Subsequent Offense — The offender can be subject to a maximum of $2,500 in fines and one year in prison.

Let Us Help You Today

If you need legal help with domestic violence in Maryland, it can be tremendously worthwhile to consult with an experienced domestic violence attorney. The Bel Air domestic violence attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered have more than 60 years of combined legal experience in family and criminal law as well as domestic violence. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.


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