Protective Orders in Domestic Violence Cases
Attorney in Washington, D.C. and Maryland provides effective advocacy
When a romantic or family relationship is marred by the use or threat of domestic violence, a protective order is a means of setting appropriate boundaries. At The Law Office of Michael A. Troy PLLC, we advocate for clients seeking protective orders in Washington, D.C. and Maryland. Our experience handling all types of family law matters helps us to understand how emotional conflicts can sometimes lead to unwarranted allegations, so we also protect the rights of those accused of abusive behavior by a partner, family member or roommate.
What constitutes domestic violence and what are some potential penalties?
Domestic violence covers various types of misconduct, including physical assault, false imprisonment, stalking, revenge porn and acts that put a victim in imminent fear of serious bodily harm. To qualify as domestic violence, the perpetrator and victim must have some existing relationship, such as current or former spouses, relatives, current or former cohabitants or co-parents. Allegations of domestic violence frequently arise during contentious family law disputes, and harsh civil and criminal sanctions can be imposed on someone accused of abusing or threatening someone they know, including fines, incarceration and orders restricting where a respondent can go and whom they can contact.
Obtaining a protective order if you’ve been a victim of domestic violence
If you’ve been victimized by or threatened with domestic violence, a civil protection order sets specific, enforceable limits designed to keep you safe from the person abusing your or creating a fear of imminent harm. This is not a criminal proceeding, so you don’t have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that illegal activity occurred. Courts can grant a protective order as long as reasonable grounds exist. The particular restrictions within an order depend on the circumstances, but often include prohibitions on communication and language saying that the respondent may not come within a certain distance of the petitioner. When some interaction must take place, such as when the parties share children, specific terms can outline how visitation should be handled.
In Maryland, three types of domestic violence protective orders exist:
- Interim protective order — For emergencies where courts are closed, the District Court Commissioner’s office in a given county allows victims to file a Petition for Protection from Domestic Violence at any time. If you show that reasonable grounds exist for an order, the respondent will be served and a date will be set for a hearing on obtaining a temporary protective order.
- Temporary protective order — A judge can put a temporary protective order in place following a hearing where the respondent need not be present. Temporary orders remain in force for up to seven days after being served on the respondent, who will have a chance to state their case in a final protective order proceeding.
- Final protective order — Should the respondent named in the temporary protective order fail to show for the hearing, a final protective order will be issued by default. In the event that the respondent contests imposition of the order, the petitioner has to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the request for relief is warranted. The order expires one year later if it is not renewed. In Washington, D.C., civil protection orders can stand for two years before requiring renewal.
The outcome of a request for a protective order has a substantial impact on your safety, so retaining an experienced family lawyer should be your top priority.
Contact an attorney serving Maryland and Washington, D.C. for a free consultation
The Law Office of Michael A. Troy PLLC represents clients in civil proceedings where a Maryland or Washington, D.C. resident seeks a domestic violence protective order as well as other family law matters. To make an appointment for a free consultation, please call 202-864-2296 or contact us online. Our office is in Greenbelt.