What Happens if Someone Violates a Protective Order in Maryland?
Under Maryland family law, a protective order allows the state courts to intervene in cases of abuse or domestic violence. Only certain types of victims qualify for protective orders, as a specific type of relationship with the alleged abuser is required.
Generally speaking, Maryland reserves protective orders for situations where the alleged abuse occurred at the hand of a spouse, relative, lover, or roommate, although there are other situations in which protective orders may be appropriate.
When a Maryland court awards a protective order, it can require the alleged abuser to conform to various guidelines, such as ceasing all abuse, refraining from additional contact, surrendering firearms, or moving out of a shared residence. Ultimately, Maryland law provides broad discretion for the state courts to protect victims of abuse or domestic violence.
If a Maryland court awards a protective order, there are various consequences for violating any aspect of the order. From a general standpoint, violation of a Maryland protective order can result in: (1) criminal prosecution or (2) contempt of court.
- Criminal Prosecution
Under Maryland Code, Family Law Section 4–509, criminal prosecution is one legal consequence of violating a protective order. This section authorizes misdemeanor charges for any violation of a protective order. The penalties for this misdemeanor are as follows:
- First Violation — The offender faces a possible sentence of imprisonment for 90 days as well as criminal fines up to $1,000; or
- Second or Subsequent Offense — The offender faces a possible sentence of imprisonment for 12 months and criminal fines up to $2,500.
Concerning the criminal prosecution of alleged violations of protective orders, there is an important exception to the usual method for bringing charges. If a police officer has probable to believe that a violation is occurring, they can execute an immediate arrest. In these situations, it is not always necessary to obtain an arrest warrant beforehand.
- Contempt of Court
Under Maryland Code, Family Law Section 4–508, violation of a protective order can also lead to contempt of court. Often abbreviated as “contempt,” this power enables the Maryland courts to punish disrespectful conduct or violations of court orders or authority. When a Maryland court holds someone in contempt, it can result in various consequences such as fines or possibly detention. The majority of protective order violations are prosecuted as criminal offenses.
Contact Us Today for Help
If you need legal assistance with domestic violence or a protective order in Maryland, it can be inordinately valuable to speak with an experienced family law attorney. The Bel Air family attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered are prepared to assist you with your case. Reach out to us today for help.