By Marc Emden, Esq.
If you have been abused by a family member or someone with whom you are in a romantic relationship, you are eligible to file a Petition for Protective Order against the person responsible for the abuse.
While filing the Petition itself may seem straightforward, there are a few things you may not know about the legal process.
Some Counties Allow You to Testify by Video Conferencing
So far, Montgomery County is the only county which allows Petitioner’s to testify via video conferencing (without going to court) for the initial temporary protective order. Other counties may soon follow this practice.
You May Bring a Companion to Court to Assist and Support You
If you have been harmed by the Respondent, you may feel distracted or upset at the thought of having to face the legal system or the person who harmed you. Having a friend or loved one with you will help solidify you for court. Moreover, even though they can not prompt you while you testify, their presence alone may also empower you.
What Interim and Temporary Protective Orders Do
For Interim and Temporary Protective Orders, the judge can:
- Order your abuser to move out of the home where you both live
- Order your abuser to stay away from your child care provider
- Grant you temporary custody of your children
- Grant you temporary use and possession of the home, if you live together
- Grant protections for your children, friends, family members, or pets who have been threatened or hurt by your abuser
- Order the surrender of firearms to law enforcement.
Make Sure the Peace or Protective Order Has Been Served
Before you return home or go to a place where your abuser might be located, make sure the order has been served. You can find this out by contacting the law enforcement agency that serves the orders in your area. You can also sign up for VINE Protective Order (VPO), a service that will notify you by phone or email when Sheriff serves the Protective Order.
The Date of the Final Protective Order
The Temporary Order will list the date for your Final Protective Order hearing which will be in about seven days. In addition to the other remedies listed above, the judge can also order Respondent to :
- Stop abusing or threatening to abuse you
- Stop contacting, attempting to contact, or harassing you
- Stay away from your work, school, or residence.
For Final Protective Orders, you can also request that the judge add provisions concerning:
- Professional counseling
- Financial support
- Visitation arrangements
- Temporary use and possession of a vehicle
- Any other relief that the judge determines is necessary to protect you, i.e. obtaining important documents, providing health insurance, or staying away from a specific place.
No one has the right to abuse you. While getting your life back is hard, Maryland’s domestic violence law offers a well-crafted plan to help you reclaim your life.
By Marc Emden, President of Emdenlaw
200A Monroe Street, #200
Rockville, Maryland 20850