If you are being abused by a partner, Maryland has many resources available to help protect you from your abuser and gain justice. One of the first steps that many people take is obtaining a protective order. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the process slightly. Here is what you need to know.
Are You Eligible for a Domestic Violence Protective Order?
In the state of Maryland, you can obtain a protective order from a District Court or Circuit Court from your county if you are being abused. While you can obtain a peace order due to harassment, harassment is not considered a basis for a protective order. What counts as abuse in a domestic violence situation?
- Sexual assault, rape, or attempted sexual assault
- An act that causes serious bodily harm (punching, kicking, choking, shoving, hitting with an object, stabbing, etc.)
- False imprisonment
- An act that places you in fear of imminent serious bodily harm (including threats)
- Mental injury to a minor child
To be eligible for a protective order, you must also be:
- A spouse or former spouse of the abuser
- A cohabitant of the abuser who is having a sexual relationship with the abuser and lived with them for at least 90 days in the past year
- A person who had a sexual relationship with the abuser within the past 365 days
- A person directly related to the abuser by adoption, marriage or blood
- A parent, stepparent, or stepchild who has lived with the abuser for at least 90 days
- A person who has a child with the abuser
- A vulnerable adult
- A person who alleges that, within the past 6 months, the abuser committed a sexual offense or attempted sexual offense
Changes Due to COVID-19
Because COVID-19 has backed up the traditional court schedule, the state of Maryland has altered procedures to keep everyone healthy and safe. District Court Commissioners are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for emergency assistance, and they are currently handling domestic violence protective orders, peace orders and extreme risk procedure orders as interim orders. Contact your attorney at Atkinson Law to start the process for filing an interim order and receive assistance.
Now, when a commissioner grants the interim order, the hearing date will be added to the paperwork based on the anticipated date based on current wait times and court closures. Because of the constantly changing conditions around us, your date might be soon and the court might be open, or the court might temporarily close again and the date will pass.
All pending interim and temporary domestic violence orders will remain in effect until the court has been able to conduct a hearing or communicate otherwise to the parties, even if the date passes. The court is currently in phase 5 as of October 5, which means that they are open again for normal operation. However, due to backlogs, your hearing may not occur immediately. Learn more here and talk to your attorney for greater detail.
Let Atkinson Law Take Care of You Like Family
At Atkinson Law, we are family. To learn more about how we can assist with your legal needs, contact us today by calling (410) 882-9595 or visiting our website.