What is a civil protective order?
Domestic violence places the victim in a position where they are subject to the constant control and abuse by their significant other; these acts—whether physical or emotional affect all facets of the victim’s life, as the abuse becomes a means to take and unavoidably takes away the victim’s autonomy and independence. Most states give victims of domestic violence the opportunity to seek civil protection orders to assist in ending the abuse without requiring that the accusations be grounded in criminal activity. A major advantage of a civil protection order is that it allows victims the opportunity to get the intervention that they need, and the resources that become available once the judicial system is involved.
For many victims, a civil protection order is the first step to gaining empowerment. Initiating the civil protection order process on their own allows the victim to begin a public record of the abuse and provides a chance for the enhancement of life outside of the abusive relationship. A civil protective order can also serve as an alternative for victims who run into issues of proof when the prosecutor may be reluctant to bring charges against the abuser for behavior that is not necessarily criminal in nature.
What happens at the hearing?
At the final hearing for a civil protection order, a bench trial (i.e., a trial before a judge instead of a jury) is held. At this trial, the judge determines whether the temporary order issued early on should continue as a final order. Once that order is examined by the court to have sufficient support for continuing permanently, the final order is issued, and legal protection is given to the victim. In this final step, the accused may be arrested if the order is violated or punished by contempt, even if the conduct does not result in criminal charges.
Who can obtain a protective order and what counts as abuse?
In order to obtain a protective order in the State of Maryland, a domestic partner must make the initial request to the court. A domestic partner is defined as a current or former spouse; cohabitant; a person related by blood, marriage, or adoption; a vulnerable adult (a person who does not have the necessary mental or physical capacity to care for themselves); a person who has a child in common with the abuser; or, a person who had a sexual relationship with the abuser within 1 year of the filing. In the event that the victim does not fall into one of these categories, they may still qualify for a peace order, which captures an array of relationships in a broader sense.
In the State of Maryland, a protective order requires that the domestic partner making the request show that either: an act by the abuser caused serious bodily injury; an act placed the victim in fear of impending serious bodily injury that was likely to occur; rape or sexual assault, including attempts; false imprisonment (i.e., confinement of the victim to a fixed area against their will); mental injury to a minor child; or, stalking. In the event that the abuser’s conduct does not fall into the aforementioned categories, the victim may also consider the peace order as an alternative route because it encompasses more actions on the part of the abuser.
When considering whether to file a civil protective order, or for more information on how to file for a civil protective order in the State of Maryland, speaking to an experienced Maryland attorney will ensure that all of your interests, concerns, and safety considerations are protected. Contact Angel Murphy with The Murphy Law Firm, LLC today to schedule your free criminal consultation at (240) 493-9116 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are active on social media, Like us on Facebook @AMurphyLegal, Follow us on Instagram @AMurphyLegal, and Twitter @AMurphy_LegalTags: Civil Protective Order, Protective Order Process, Protective Orders