In Maryland, a person is protected from domestic violence by the Domestic Violence Statute found in the Family Law Article Sections 4-501 through 4-516. Domestic abuse in Maryland is defined as an act that causes serious bodily harm, an act that places a person in fear of imminent serious bodily harm, assault in any degree, rape or a sexual offense as defined by sections 3-303 through 3-308 of the Criminal Law Article or attempted rape or sexual offense in any degree, false imprisonment or stalking under section 3-802. In certain circumstances domestic abuse may also include the abuse of a child. In Maryland if a person is the victim of spousal abuse as defined by the statute, the party can seek relief by going to either a District Court Commissioner in the county in which the parties reside or to the Circuit Court in the county in which the parties reside. An Interim Protective Order may be issued by the Commissioner which removes an abusive person from a residence until a hearing can be held before the District Court. After a Commissioner issues an Order a Temporary Protective Order, a hearing is held by a Judge of either the District Court for the Circuit Court. If sufficient evidence is produced at the Temporary Protective Order hearing the matter will be scheduled for a Final Protective Order usually one week after the issuance of the Temporary Order.
In Maryland the statute has recently been changed so that the standard of proof that must be met is whether the domestic abuse occurred more likely than not i.e. the same standard that is issued in any other civil matter, rather than a clear and convincing proof which was the required standard for proof until October 1, 2014.
If a Final Protective Order is issued by the Court, the court may order a person to 1)refrain from abusing or threatening to abuse the abused person 2) order the abusive spouse to vacate the residence of the abused person 3) order that the abused person and minor children be awarded a use and possession order so that the abused person and children may reside in the residence without interference by the abusive person 4) order the abusive person to remain away for the place of employment, school, child care provider or temporary residence of the abused person and any minor children 5) order temporary custody of a minor child/ children to the abused spouse 6) establish a temporary visitation schedule with the abusive party 7)order the payment of emergency family maintenance to the abused party, 8) order a use and possession ward of a jointly owned vehicle to the abused party 9) order the abusive party to participate in a professionally supervised counseling or domestic violence program, and 10) order the abusive party to surrender all firearms to law enforcement authorities for the duration of the protective order.
In the event that you are the victim of domestic violence, you should consult with an attorney immediately to have the attorney explain your rights and remedies under the domestic violence statute in Maryland.