Maryland Domestic Violence
This brief article will focus on Maryland domestic violence cases.
Many petitions are filed throughout the state on behalf of the victim (petitioner) and/or on behalf of the minor child(ren).
If the Judge finds there is basis for temporary protection or interim protection, a Temporary Order will be granted and a Final Hearing is usually set within one (1) week of the Temporary Hearing…pending service on the Respondent (of course).
1. STANDARD OF REVIEW.
a. Temporary Order or Interim Order.
The standard of review for the Court to grant a temporary protective order is less than what the Court will consider at the final hearing.
The reason for a lower level of proof is the urgency or immediate nature of the situation warrants protection right away.
In many domestic violence cases, the person whom protection is sought against may not be present at the Temporary Hearing and the Court will hear/consider unopposed testimony from the Petitioner; assuming there is evidence showing reasonable grounds to believe the Respondent has acted in a manner to cause the Petitioner harm, placed the petitioner in fear of imminent harm, raped, stalked, and/or acted in a manner that gives the Court reason to believe protection of the Petitioner and/or minor child(ren) is necessary the Temporary Order will be granted.
b. Final Hearing.
The burden of proof at the Final Domestic Violence Hearing is higher than the Temporary Domestic Violence Hearing.
Also, unlike the first Hearing, the Court wants to ensure the Respondent was served and has an opportunity to appear and defend himself/herself from the allegation(s).
In the past, the burden of proof was extremely high: clear and convincing evidence. The burden of proof at a Final Domestic Violence Hearing is now proof based on a preponderance of the evidence…more likely than not.
Petitioners and Respondents are encouraged to bring witness(es) to any event(s) involving the parties that may help the Court come to the correct conclusion.
2. PEACE ORDER v PROTECTIVE ORDER
a. Protective Order.
Domestic violence cases are either covered under the umbrella of a Peace Order or a Protective Order.
The Order is determined by the relationship between the Petitioner and the Respondent. Relationships that are covered under a Protective Order, include as follows:
- A current or former spouse;
- A person with whom one has had a sexual relationship and lived with that person for at least 90 days within the past year;
- A person to whom one is related by blood, marriage, or adoption;
- A parent, stepparent, child, or stepchild , who one has lived with the for at least 90 days within the past year;
- A physically or mentally disabled adult; or
- A person whom one has a child in common with
b. Peace Order.
A Petitioner without a special relationship with the Respondent may still file for Domestic Violence Protection under a Peace Order.
c. Time Limits for Protection.
In general, the Court may grant a Peace Order and have that protection enforced for up to 6 months. The Court may grant a Protective Order for up to one (1) year.
3. ABUSED MALES
a. Although it is not as widely publicized, there are many domestic violence cases where the male is the one abused by his partner; or placed in imminent fear by his partner. If you are in such a situation, you may want to inquire about protection from the Court.
4. CRUELTY & EXCESSIVELY VICIOUS CONDUCT
a. In many instances, prior and current domestic violence cases may be used, along with other evidence, to file for a divorce under the ground of cruelty and excessively vicious conduct.
Even if these domestic violence incident(s) are not enough to prove cruelty and excessively vicious conduct, they may still be useful to a family law court in determining child custody or validate one party choosing to leave the marital home for their protection.
5. SHIELDING APPLICATION
a. Due to negative nature of having a filing of domestic violence filing on one’s record, the Court allows a person who is successful in defending a domestic violence case to apply to the Court and request that the records be shielded.
If you have your domestic violence case dropped/dismissed or you prevail at the Hearing, inquire about filing to shield the record before leaving the courthouse.
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If we believe we can assist you, we will set up a formal consultation with you to further discuss your matter.
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