Are You Seeking a Protective Order?

Has Someone Wrongfully Filed a Protective Order Petition Against You?

Under Maryland Law, if someone who is your spouse, or an intimate partner, or who is a relative or someone you live with, engages in a course of conduct that is assaultive, or that is meant to threaten or stalk you, then you have the right to file for a protective order. An order removes the offending person from your residence and keeps the offending person from contacting you or coming to your home or place of work, as well as your school if you are a student. A Final Protective Order remains in effect for a period of up to one year and can be extended upon the request of the Petitioner and after a hearing.

Grounds for granting a protective order include:


Stalking means a malicious course of conduct that includes approaching or pursuing another where:

The person intends to place or knows or reasonably should have known the conduct would place another in reasonable fear:

  1. of serious bodily injury;
  2. of an assault in any degree;
  3. of rape or sexual offense as defined by §§ 3-303 through 3-308 of this title or attempted rape or sexual offense in any degree;
  4. of false imprisonment; or
  5. of death; or
  6. that a third person likely will suffer any of the acts listed in item 1 of this item; or the person intends to cause or knows or reasonably should have known that the conduct would cause serious emotional distress to another; and

(2) “stalking” includes conduct described in item (1) of this subsection that occurs:


by electronic communication: texting, emailing, posting on social media sites, and direct messaging; or through the use of a device that can pinpoint or track the location of another without the person’s knowledge or consent.

Threats of imminent serious bodily harm or injury and assault:

-reckless or intentional behavior which the person filing reasonably believes will cause serious bodily harm or injury to them.

Assault (3 types):

  1. Intent to frighten someone – placing victim in reasonable fear of being hit;
  2.  attempted battery – trying to hurt or touch someone against their wishes, but not making contact;
  3. battery, unlawful touching.

Mental injury of a child:

“Mental injury” is defined as “the observable, identifiable, and substantial impairment of a child’s mental or psychological ability to function caused by a reckless or intentional act or series of acts[.]” FL § 5-701(r). Both physical and mental harm must be intentional or reckless and cannot be the product of an accident.

False imprisonment:

False imprisonment occurs when a person intentionally and illegally restrains another person’s ability to move freely.

Great Atl. & Pac. Tea Co. v. Paul, 256 Md. 643, 654, 261 A.2d 731, 738 (1970), : “the necessary elements of a case for false imprisonment are a deprivation of the liberty of another without his consent and without legal justification. false imprisonment.“

Attempted Rape or Sexual offense

Revenge Pornography:

The posting of intimate partners’ genitalia or performance of a sexual act without permission, where the victim’s face is identifiable, and where the victim had an expectation of privacy.

Steps in the Process


To get a protective order, a petitioner can go to a District Court and provide a few minutes of testimony to a judge or a commissioner.  This judge or commissioner will decide whether or not an order should be issued. Before applying for one of these orders, you should review the relevant statutes (laws) (§4-501, Family Law Article) to determine whether you are entitled to receive these types of orders. In addition, make sure that you provide the judge with the specific facts about what happened to you. Also, be aware that the acts that you are complaining of need not have occurred within any time limit for most protective orders.

Once the temporary order is issued, the court gives it to local law enforcement to be served on the respondent. The order becomes effective once it is served, and it prohibits the respondent from contacting the petitioner and in many cases requires the respondent to vacate where they are living. A final hearing is scheduled a week later where the parties’ case is then heard by a judge who makes a final decision. If the judge finds by clear and convincing evidence that the respondent committed assault or other acts, made threats, stalked, or harassed the petitioner, then a final order is issued.


If you have been named as a respondent in a protective order case, remember that you could also be facing criminal charges for the same acts. In addition, if the police attempt to interview you, they may well use whatever information or explanations you give them against you in either the criminal or restraining order case.

Quick Tips

If you have been injured by the act of someone else, you should provide photographs or medical reports of your injuries to the judge. In addition, you should preserve any electronic evidence that is relevant to your case. This may include text messages or emails.

Maryland Courts are required to post protective order cases on the Maryland case search. Case search is a public database that lists all cases pending in the Maryland court system;

You must surrender all firearms to law enforcement if a protective order is taken out against you;

Any security clearance you have will be affected by the filing of a protective order against you;

Landlords may be unwilling to rent to you if you are the respondent in a protective order;

Employers may be reluctant to hire you;

Banks may choose not to extend credit to you;

If you are a party in a domestic relations case, any custody arrangement with your child could be jeopardized;

Protective orders could have immigration consequences;

All statements you make in the protective order hearing may be used against you if police later charge you with a crime in the same matter or related matter.

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