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What is a protective order?

A protective order prevents one person from contacting another. The order may prohibit someone from visiting a certain individual at their school, job or home. They may also be required to stop threatening or harming that person.

Who can ask for a protective order?

Protective orders are usually sought against a spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend or relative. They may also be requested by an adult child or a vulnerable adult. They do not apply to friends, neighbors, coworkers, strangers or acquaintances. A peace order may be more suitable in those situations.

Why should I ask for a protective order?

If your partner, spouse or other person that you’ve had a close personal relationship has committed one or more of the following acts against you or your children, you may want to consider asking for a protective order:

  • Stabbing, shooting, kicking, choking, biting, shoving, punching or other actions that have harmed you physically.
  • Threats of harm and other intentional acts that could make you believe that the person intends to hurt you.
  • Mental injury caused to a minor child who is living in your home.
  • Stalking.
  • Revenge porn.
  • Assault.
  • Sexual assault.
  • Rape.
  • False imprisonment.

Harassment is not included as one of the grounds for obtaining a protective order. It can be difficult to prove in certain cases. However, harassment may be one of the reasons why a peace order is sought against a specific individual.

What is a final protective order?

A final protective order is the last part of a three-step process. Many people who ask for a protective order (who are known as petitioners) begin by filing for an interim protective order. If the order is sought while the local district or circuit court is presently in session, they may skip ahead to ask for a temporary protective order. When a temporary protective order is granted, the order will include information for a tentative location, date and time for a final protective order hearing.

How can I obtain a final protective order?

A temporary protective order must be granted before a final protective order can be sought. A hearing will be scheduled for the temporary protective order. Both parties will be expected to attend the hearing, unless they mutually agree to waive that proceeding. Temporary protective orders are valid for seven days from when the order was issued to the abuser (known as the respondent). If the court is not in session on the day when the order is set to expire, it will end on the next day the court is in session.

One or both parties may choose to have a lawyer represent them at the final protective order hearing. The petitioner will be expected to provide preponderance of the evidence when making their case. They should be able to show that one or more acts of abuse occurred. Bring copies of hospital records, police reports and photos of abuse that happened during those incidents to the hearing. You can also contact witnesses to testify for you if applicable.

Be prepared to answer questions and be cross-examined by your abuser or their attorney. All questions should be answered honestly and to the best of your knowledge. The judge will need to determine whether actual abuse happened and if the respondent is likely to reoffend in the future before awarding a final protective order.

What relief does a final protective order provide?

A final protective order will require one or more of these items. The specific relief that’s provided will vary, depending on the situation and the relief that was initially requested:

  1. The offender may be asked to voluntarily give up any guns they own.
  2. The abuser will be told to move out of your house. This is true even if you are legally married to one another.
  3. One or both parties may be required to attend counseling services for alcohol or drug issues or domestic violence if necessary.
  4. The offender may not be able to visit a childcare facility that your children currently attend.
  5. The abuser may be barred from abusing you or threatening to abuse you.
  6. The offender can be required to pay financial support for any children that you may have together.
  7. You may be granted custody of any family pets.
  8. The offender could also be ordered to pay support to their former partner.
  9. You may be given sole ownership of a vehicle that you own with the abuser. Before this will be granted, you must prove that you need to use that vehicle to go to work or school on a regular basis.
  10. Child visitation could be restricted.
  11. You could also be given temporary custody of children that you had with the offender.
  12. If you were not married to the abuser but lived together for at least 90 days during the same year and your name is on the property lease or deed, the abuser could be ordered to leave the house.
  13. The offender could also be prohibited from visiting or entering family members’ residences, your temporary home, the schools that your children attend or your permanent house.
  14. Any other additional relief that the judge deems necessary to protect you and any children currently living with you.

How long are final protective orders valid for?

A final protective order is good for up to a year in the state of Maryland. These orders may be extended for another 6 months if the judge deems necessary. If you feel that the protections given by a final order are not needed anymore, you can ask the court or contact your lawyer to request that the order be removed.

What happens if someone violates a final protective order?

If your abuser violated the final protective order, you should contact your local law enforcement as soon as possible. Possible penalties will be based on the action that was taken. They can range from a fine of up to $1,000 to a jail term of 10 years or more. Penalties can be increased accordingly for each subsequent violation.

Protective orders can be intimidating. If you have questions, we can help. Contact us today to set up a no-obligation consultation. Our trained professionals will sit down and listen to what you have to say. They will analyze the situation and advise as to possible next steps. We can even represent you in court if you want. We want to help you get your life back on track again. A final protective order may be an important step in the right direction.