Domestic disputes seem to always go hand in hand with protective orders in Maryland. But before you file a protective order, here are three things everyone should know about these civil court documents.
1. Whether you file a peace order or a protective order depends on your relationship.
There are certain criteria that must be met in order to file a protective order. If you are the current or former spouse of the person you are filing the order against (the respondent), if you have had a sexual relationship and lived in the same home as the respondent for 90 days in the past year, if you have a child in common with the respondent, if you are related by blood or marriage to the respondent, if you are the parent, stepparent, child or stepchild of the respondent, or if you have had a sexual relationship with the respondent within a year of filing the petition you need to file a protective order. If none of these relationships apply, you must file a peace order.
2. You Need Proof
You cannot file a protective order without proof of some kind. The courts will ask for proof of one of the following:
- An act that caused bodily harm to you or your child
- Something that caused fear of bodily harm to you or your child
- Rape or another sexual offense
- Attempted rape or another sexual offense
- False Imprisonment
- Criminal Stalking
While the burden of proof for filing a protective order lies with the petitioner, many judges are quick to issue protective orders in cases where abuse and assault are suspected, especially when they involve minor children. In these cases, it is tempting to file a counter protective order against the petitioner when in reality, the respondent’s focus should be on defense.
3. Criminal Defense with a focus on Protective Orders
In a perfect world, protective orders would only be filed to protect victims from their attackers. However, in criminal defense cases, protective orders are often used to prosecute the accused in the absence of actual proof. If someone files a protective order against you, you can be arrested, imprisoned or fined for violating that protective order, even if you are acting within the confines of that order. Let’s say your ex-spouse accuses you of assault and files a protective order against you during the investigation. Then, you unknowingly run into your ex-spouse at the supermarket near your home. Even if the meeting was by chance, you may end up answering for your actions in court. That is why many attorneys automatically file protective orders when they are prosecuting assault, rape, stalking, or abuse cases.
Having a criminal defense attorney with a focus on protective orders can mean the difference between having a fair trial and being falsely imprisoned. Don’t trust your life to anyone other than Jaimee C McDowell. Her experience with protective orders can help you navigate the murky legal waters surrounding your case. Call today to discuss your protective order case.