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Protective Orders in Maryland: Understanding Your Rights and Options

May 14, 2024
Cyndi Christiani

Maryland law provides strong protections for victims of domestic violence. It also protects those who claim to be victims, and when in doubt, judges typically err on the side of affording protections to those who might need them.

These protections come in the form of a protective order—also known as a restraining order, or in some cases, an “extreme risk protective order.”

If you are facing a protective order in Maryland, it is important to make sure you understand your rights and options. Protective orders can impose numerous restrictions and requirements, and failing to strictly comply with a protective order can land you in court. For a first offense, violating a protective order carries up to 90 days in jail. As a result, it is important that you comply with your protective order while it is in effect.  In addition, you should not face protective order hearings alone. Hiring an attorney who is experienced in representing those who are facing a protective order is imperative —Cynthia Christiani is that attorney. Contact our office today for a consultation.  

Your Rights and Options When Facing a Protective Order in Maryland

With this in mind, what do you need to know if you are facing a domestic violence protective order in Maryland? When facing a protective order, your rights and options include:

1. The Right to Challenge the Basis for the Protective Order

Judges in Maryland can issue temporary protective orders ex parte, meaning that only the accuser needs to be present. If you are facing a temporary protective order and you did not have the opportunity to challenge the basis for the order before it was issued, you can challenge the basis for the order at the next available opportunity.

Most likely, this opportunity will come at your final protective order hearing. Temporary protective orders generally last seven days (though accusers can sometimes seek extensions). To secure protection beyond seven days without an extension, accusers must obtain a final protective order. Final protective order hearings are not ex parte proceedings. As a result, you have the opportunity to appear, and you should appear with an experienced attorney by your side.

2. The Right to Hire an Attorney to Represent You

When you are facing the issuance of a protective order against you, you have the right to hire an attorney to represent you. Maryland’s protective order laws are complicated, and the rules and requirements for challenging protective orders are complicated as well. As a result, it is strongly in your best interests to hire an experienced attorney to represent you, and, if you are facing domestic violence charges in criminal court, you can hire the same attorney to handle your protective order case and your criminal defense.

Can you handle your protective order case on your own? Technically, the answer is “Yes.” You are not legally required to hire an attorney to represent you. But, trying to handle your situation on your own can be very risky, and, if you do not protect yourself by all means available, you could face serious and long-term consequences unnecessarily. And if you are facing criminal domestic violence charges, you must consider the effect of having a protective order hearing on those charges. Consulting an experienced attorney is the way to make sure your rights are protected.  

3. The Right to Call Out False Accusations

There are several options for defending against a request for a protective order in a domestic violence case. One of these options is to expose false accusations against you. Unfortunately, false accusations are common, and far too often, they lead to unwarranted life-altering consequences.

If you have been falsely accused of domestic violence, you do not deserve to face any consequences as a result of the accusations against you. An experienced defense attorney will be able to assist you with gathering any and all available evidence that proves the allegations against you are false. From eyewitness testimony and social media posts to medical records and a history of false reports, your attorney may be able to use various forms of evidence to demonstrate that a protective order is unwarranted.

4. The Right to Call Out Issues with the Police Department’s Investigation

Issues with the police department’s investigation can also provide defenses to domestic violence restraining orders in many cases. If the police arrested you based on assumptions rather than facts, if they arrested you or searched your home without a warrant or probable cause, or if they did anything else that violated your rights, you are entitled to use this in your defense. While the law protects victims of domestic violence, it also protects the accused. The key is knowing how and when to use these protections to your advantage—and this is one of many areas in which an experienced attorney can help.

5. The Right Not to Face Unjust Restrictions or Requirements

Ultimately, when you have been accused of domestic violence in Maryland, you have the right not to face any unjust restrictions or requirements. This includes (but is not limited to) common protective order restrictions and requirements such as:

  • Restriction against engaging in threatening or abusive conduct
  • Restriction against contacting the accuser or other protected individuals
  • Restriction against entering the accuser’s home (even if this is also your home)
  • Restriction against visiting the accuser’s (or another protected individual’s) work or school
  • Requirement to surrender your firearms
  • Requirement to attend therapy or counseling
  • Requirement to pay financial support or restitution

These restrictions and requirements (among others) can profoundly impact your life. You should not have to face any of them unnecessarily, and exercising your right to legal counsel is one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself both now and in the future.

To be clear, these are by no means your only rights and options when facing a protective order in Maryland. But they are among the most important. To ensure that you have a clear understanding of all of your rights, options, and risks, you should speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

Schedule an Appointment with Maryland Protective Order Defense Attorney Cynthia Christiani

If you need to know more about your rights and options when facing a protective order in Maryland, we invite you to get in touch. Contact us online to schedule an appointment with defense attorney Cynthia Christiani today.