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Under Maryland law, domestic violence occurs when one family member or intimate partner mistreats another one physically, verbally, sexually or psychologically. Many victims of domestic violence are so intimidated that they are afraid to seek legal help. At Haspel & McLeod, P.C., our lawyers understand your fear, and they do whatever it takes to keep you and your children safe.

How To Stop The Abuse

A protective order is the mechanism under Maryland law that protects a domestic abuse victim from further harm by the abuser. You are eligible for a protective order if you are:

  • The current or former spouse of the abuser
  • A child or stepchild of the abuser
  • Anyone who has cohabitated with the abuser for 90 days or more
  • A person related to the abuser by blood, marriage or adoption
  • A vulnerable adult
  • Someone who has had a child with the abuser

Any victim of abuse who is not eligible for a protective order can seek a peace order instead. But if you are eligible for a protective order, you may not file for a peace order. Our Frederick and Rockville family law attorneys at Haspel & McLeod, P.C., help victims of domestic violence secure legal protection swiftly.

WHAT You Have To Prove To Get A Protective Order

To obtain an interim or temporary protective order, the hurdle is low: There merely must be “reasonable grounds to believe” that you were abused. To get a final protective order, the judge must find by a preponderance of the evidence that the abuse occurred.

An interim order lasts until a hearing is held on the temporary protective order or the end of the second business day that the court clerk’s office is open after the interim order was issued – whichever is sooner. Temporary protective orders usually last no longer than seven days, but a judge can extend a temporary protective order up to six months. Final orders last up to a year and can be extended for another 12 months. A permanent protective order stays in effect until the victim requests that it be terminated.

What Does A Protective Order Actually Do?

A temporary protective order can provide a range of remedies, including:

  • Ordering the abuser to stop abusing or harassing you
  • Ordering the abuser to stay away from you and not try to contact you
  • Ordering the abuser to stay out of your house
  • Ordering the abuser to leave the home where the two of you live
  • Ordering that you be given temporary custody of any children you have with the abuser
  • Ordering the abuser to stay away from your place of employment or your children’s schools

A final protective order offers all the remedies of a temporary order, plus the following:

  • Awarding family maintenance payments
  • Awarding the use of a jointly titled car
  • Establishing temporary visitation guidelines
  • Ordering counseling
  • Ordering the abuser to surrender all firearms
  • Ordering the abuser to pay filing fees and court costs

What Happens If The Abuser Violates A Protective Order?

If your abuser violates the terms of a protective order, you can file a complaint with the court. If the abuser violates the “stay away” requirements of the order, you can file a criminal charge. The maximum penalties for a first violation of a protective order are up to a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail. For a subsequent offense, the maximum penalties are up to a $2,500 fine and a year in prison.

If the abuser violates the “stay away” portion of the order, the police can arrest them without a warrant. To enforce a temporary child custody provision of a final protective order, the court can order police to use “all reasonable and necessary force” to enforce the order.

Contact Us If You Have Been The Victim Of Domestic Violence

Our family law attorneys at Haspel & McLeod, P.C., do whatever it takes to keep you and your children safe from domestic violence. Call us at 301-850-7234 or contact us online today. Our Maryland legal team represents individuals and families throughout Frederick, Montgomery and Howard counties. Our offices are in Frederick and Rockville.