What is domestic violence?

Maryland law defines domestic violence “abuse” as the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between “family or household members”:

  • Assault
  • An act that places a person in fear of imminent serious bodily harm
  • An act that causes serious bodily harm
  • Rape or sexual offense
  • Attempted rape or sexual offense
  • Stalking
  • False imprisonment, such as interference with freedom (physically keeping you from leaving your home or kidnapping you)

What can the courts do?

Depending on your relationship to the alleged abuser, there are two types of civil relief: a protective order and a peace order. Protective orders are the main vehicle of civil relief for victims of domestic violence.

Protective Orders

What are protective orders?

Protective orders are civil orders issued by a judge that orders one person to refrain from committing certain acts against others.

Who can file for protective orders?

You are eligible for a protective order if you and the alleged abuser:

  • Are current or former spouses
  • Have lived together in an intimate relationship for at least 90 days during the past year
  • Are related by blood, marriage, or adoption
  • Are in a parent-child, or stepparent-stepchild relationship and have resided together for at least 90 days during the past year
  • Are in a caretaker-vulnerable adult relationship
  • Are the parents of a child together

Types of Protective Orders

In an interim or temporary protective order, the judge can order that the abuser:

  • Stop abusing you
  • Stay away from you and not try to contact you or harass you at your home, school, job, or the place where you may be staying; stay away from your child’s school, and from your family members’ homes
  • Stay out of your house
  • Leave the home where the two of you live, if you are married to the abuser, AND you were living with your abuser at the time of the abuse
  • Leave the home if you are not married to the abuser, but were living with the abuser at the time of the abuse, AND your name is on the lease or deed for the house, OR you lived with the abuser for at least 90 days within the past year
  • The judge can also give you temporary custody of any children that you have with the abuser

In a final protective order, a judge can order any of the above, and can also:

  • Establish temporary visitation with children
  • Award emergency family maintenance
  • Award use and possession of jointly titled car
  • Order counseling
  • Order the abuser to surrender all firearms
  • Order the abuser to pay filing fees and court costs

Peace Orders

What are peace orders?

A peace order is a form of legal protection for anyone who is experiencing problems with an individual, including someone in a dating relationship, a neighbor, a stranger or anyone else. The peace order enables an individual who wishes to be left alone to ask the court for an order for the other person to stay away and refrain from any contact.

A peace order allows any person who has been subjected to abuse, harassment, stalking, trespass or malicious destruction of property to seek relief from the court. Unlike protective orders, the nature of the relationship between the parties is not a factor when petitioning the court for a peace order. If an individual is entitled to relief in a protective order hearing, they are not entitled to seek relief under the Peace Order Act.

How can a protective or peace order help me?

If you file for a peace order, you can ask the judge for certain kinds of help:

Types of Peace Orders

In an interim or temporary peace order, the judge can order that the abuser:

  • Stop abusing you
  • Stay away from you and to not try to contact you or harass you at your home, school, job, or the place where you may be staying

In a final peace order, a judge can order any of the above, and can also:

  • Order counseling
  • Order mediation
  • Order the abuser to pay filing fees and court costs

For more information or to schedule an appointment today, contact The Law Office of Chelsea M. Sadler LLC., Ph: 443.406.6263 or E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.