Everyone has a right to be safe from violence and the law gives you a way to protect yourself from threatened or repeated violence. A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), Domestic Violence Order, or a Peace Order can help prevent someone who has put you in imminent fear of serious injury or bodily harm from being near you. Violation of one of these orders is a crime and anyone who violates the order will be arrested.
The importance of an order to protect yourself became widely known in Prince George’s County, Maryland when Oprah televised the case of a woman who had asked for a TRO, been denied by the Prince George’s District Court, and was later horribly burned when her boyfriend poured gasoline on her and set her on fire. Because of cases like these, the courts take domestic violence issues seriously. Every year, tens of thousands of people petition the courts for a TRO to prevent a family member, stalker, or acquaintance from assaulting them. Usually the court will issue a TRO based solely on a person’s request for help. You don’t need a lawyer for a TRO. You simply appear by yourself before the court, fill out a Domestic Violence or Peace Order Complaint form, and request a Judge to issue a temporary order for your temporary protection. Within seven days you will need to go back to court for a permanent protective order in a domestic violence hearing. This is when you will probably need a lawyer as the rules of evidence apply and the individual you accused of committing domestic violence has a right to be there to dispute your claims.
If the Judge believes your claims, a “permanent” protective order is granted for up to 12 months. At this time the Judge can also award Emergency Family Maintenance to determine who will live where, who will have custody and visitation of any children, and whether financial support should be awarded. Whether you have been a victim of domestic violence, or have been wrongfully accused of committing domestic violence, it is a good idea to have a lawyer help you in these cases. Because of the serious nature of domestic violence, the fact that criminal charges can be related to allegations of domestic violence, and the potential disruption of your life and finances, you need a lawyer.
For a quick response to your questions on domestic violence and protective orders, contact us at 301.464.7448.