Domestic violence leads to many divorces in the Annapolis area. However, if you have been the victim of domestic violence, there are immediate steps you can take to protect yourself and your children immediately. The divorce process can take time, but the right protective order lawyer in Annapolis can help you seek the right court order to help restrict your spouse or partner from harming you in the meantime.
There are different types of protective orders for victims of domestic violence, and all of these orders must be issued by a Maryland district court. In some situations, you can obtain an order without even notifying your abuser first. In other cases, the party subject to the protective order will have the opportunity to defend against the order being put in place. In either situation, you want the guidance of a dedicated protective order lawyer from the start of the process.
Courts are not open 24 hours a day, and domestic violence can happen at any time, and it often happens after-hours. The law recognizes the need for immediate help in many domestic violence situations, however, so it allows victims to seek interim protective orders when the courts are closed.
To obtain an order right away, you will need to file the proper petition with the District Court Commissioner’s office, which is open 24/7. Your attorney can call an on-call Commissioner for you or visit an open Commissioner’s office. The petition will need to include the reasons you need protection, including all examples of harm or threats of harm that occurred. You should also include all current or past court actions, including divorce cases or criminal charges your partner faces.
You will need to appear before the Commissioner and explain why you are seeking protection. Your attorney can help you prove the threats against you, including providing photos, medical reports, police reports, witness statements, or other evidence of domestic abuse. The Commissioner can issue an Interim Protective Order, which can have different conditions depending on your situation, including:
There will be a hearing scheduled as soon as possible for a Temporary Protective Order hearing. The Interim Order will remain in effect for two business days or until the hearing date.
You may seek a Temporary Protective Order if your Interim Order expires or if the courts are open when the need for an order arises. It is beneficial to have an attorney helping you through this process to ensure you receive the protection you need.
If you already have a hearing date (due to having an Interim Order), you need to appear with your lawyer in the designated courtroom at the scheduled time. If you do not have an Interim Order, you will need to go to the district court and inform the Court Clerk that you wish to seek a protective order. You will need to complete and file the petition, which will include similar information as an Interim Order petition.
You will appear in front of a judge and present the evidence you have of the abuse and the need for protection. The judge will then determine whether to issue the Temporary Protective Order. Note that the judge will not automatically issue an order just because you had an Interim Order.
While your abuser does not have to be present for the judge to issue a Temporary Protective Order, the law requires that law enforcement serves your abuser with a copy of the order. The order will inform them of the hearing date for a Final Protective Order, as they will have the opportunity to appear at that hearing. The Temporary Order can last for seven days from the date of service or until the Final Protective Order hearing date.
Once you have your Temporary Order, you should discuss with your attorney whether you need a Final Protective Order. If you decide to seek one, you will need to attend the hearing set when the judge issues the Temporary Order. Your abuser will also have the right to defend themselves at this hearing. Because it will be an adversarial hearing, it is especially important to have the right legal representation in court.
In the event your abuser does not appear in court at the scheduled time, your attorney can ask the judge to issue a default order. However, if your abuser appears, the hearing will proceed. You will have the opportunity to tell the judge why you want the protective order, and the abuser will have the opportunity to tell the judge why they believe an order is inappropriate. You might be cross-examined by your abuser’s attorney, who is trying to disprove your claims.
If the judge finds that you proved your claim for an order by a preponderance of the evidence (which means that it is more likely than not you need the order), the judge can set the specific terms of the Final Order. This usually prohibits contact from your abuser, prohibitions from them owning firearms, and more. This Final protective Order can be in place for 12 months, two years, or even permanently in some situations, depending on the judge’s findings.
A protective order is a document, and it cannot physically stop someone from approaching you, contacting you, threatening you, or harming you. However, violating a protective order can result in an arrest and criminal charges for the abuser. A violation case will also complicate any pending criminal charges for domestic violence they face, as well as any pending divorce and custody cases. In many situations, having a court order will be enough to keep your abuser away from you and your kids due to the possible long-term consequences of violating the order.
In addition, if you are alleging domestic violence as part of your claims in your divorce and custody case, obtaining a protective order can be important. Seeking an order means you are serious about feeling like the abuser presents the risk of harm. Successfully obtaining an order can demonstrate that another judge found your claims credible enough to issue the Final Protective Order. It is critical to have the right lawyer throughout this process who can also help with the rest of your divorce case.
At the Law Office of Patrick Crawford, we help clients facing a wide range of family law matters. We have represented clients facing the threat of domestic violence in seeking a protective order, as well as throughout the divorce process. Call 1-410-216-7905 contact us online to speak with an Annapolis protective order lawyer right away. Your safety and future interests are our priority, and we can guide you through this often stressful situation.