You may seek protection by use of a "Petition for Forcible Entry and Detainer" to evict an abuser from a dwelling when that person has no legal right to be living there. This means that you must own or lease the dwelling alone or with someone other than the abuser. The abuser must not contribute to the rent or mortgage payments. This type of legal help is generally used by unmarried people. However, this relief can be used by a married victim if you have:
- moved to a new home which was never previously the marital home and;
- was a place the victim has not agreed to allow the spouse to live and;
- was a place where the abuser never contributed rent nor mortgage payments.
A petition must be filed in District Court and a hearing will be held. You should show the lease or the title to the property and any rent checks or receipts as evidence at the hearing. If the judge issues an Order, the abuser has the right to appeal within ten (10) days of the judgment. If the abuser does not appeal, the police will ensure that the abuser's belongings are removed from the property.
What can I do if my partner has been harassing me but there has been no actual physical violence?
A victim may file criminal harassment charges against any person who repeatedly follows him/her, with the intent to annoy, alarm, or harass that individual. The victim must give reasonable warning or request to stop the harassment.
Maryland Law defines harassment as following another in a way that alarms or seriously annoys:
- with the intent to harass, alarm, or annoy the other;
- without a legal purpose.
Read the Law: MD Code Criminal Law § 3-803
Depending on the facts, a victim of abuse may also have a case for stalking. Maryland law defines stalking as "conduct that includes approaching or pursuing another where the person intends to place or knows or reasonably should have known the conduct would place another in reasonable fear of bodily injury" of him or herself or another person. Read the Law: MD Code Criminal Law § 3-802