What are Protective Orders Under Maryland Family Law?
Protective orders are legal devices in Maryland that allow the state courts to protect victims of domestic violence and other forms of abuse. Unlike peace orders, protective orders are only available to victims who are connected to the abuser in some fashion. For example, protective orders are available to victims who suffered abuse from their spouse, family member, romantic partner, roommate, co-parent, or similar relation.
What is a Protective Order?
Under Maryland family law, there are three types of protective orders available in Maryland:
- Interim Protective Orders — Under Maryland Code, Family Law Section 4–504.1, these orders are available on an emergency basis, without a hearing, if the courts are closed and there is reasonable suspicion of abuse. Interim orders must be reviewed before a judge within two business days.
- Temporary Protective Orders — Under Maryland Code, Family Law Section 4–505, these orders are available after a court hearing for a short amount of time, if a judge determines there is reasonable suspicion of abuse.
- Final Protective Orders — Under Maryland Code, Family Law Section 4–506, these orders are available after the alleged abuser has a chance to appear in court and can last for 12 months.
Although the precise remedies available do fluctuate based on the type of protective order, many of the options are the same across the board. From a general standpoint, protective orders allow the Maryland courts to:
- Require the alleged offender to refrain from further abuse or threats of abuse;
- Order the alleged offender to stop contacting, or attempting to contact, the victim;
- Mandate that the alleged offender stay away from or vacate the victim’s residence;
- Award temporary child custody of any minor child to the victim, if such a child resided with the victim and alleged abuser previously;
- Award temporary possession and use of the family home to the victim, if the alleged abuser and victim lived there previously; or
- Award temporary possession of a domestic animal to the victim.
What is the Penalty for Violating a Protective Order?
Maryland Code, Family Law Section 4–509 details the penalty for violating a protective order. Under this section, it is a misdemeanor offense to violate the requirements of an interim, temporary, or final protective order. Upon conviction for this misdemeanor, the following punishments apply:
- First Offense — A maximum of 90 days in prison and up to $1,000 in criminal fines; or
- Second or Subsequent Offense — A maximum of 12 months in prison and up to $2,500 in criminal fines.
On a related note, if a police officer has probable cause to suspect violation of a protective order, they can arrest the alleged offender immediately. It does not matter whether the police officer has a warrant in this type of situation.
Do You Need Legal Help?
If you have legal questions about protective orders or domestic violence in Maryland, it can be highly beneficial to contact a trusted Bel Air family attorney. The attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered have more than 60 years of combined legal experience in family and criminal law, including protective orders and domestic violence. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.