Domestic Violence

Introduction

Domestic violence happens when one person abuses another person (usually an intimate partner) physically, psychologically, emotionally, verbally, sexually, or economically. A quarter of women, and over an eighth of men, have reported being victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner.

If this applies to you, help is available. You can use the legal process to get protection or press criminal charges, and you can find confidential help from a network of organizations in every Maryland county.

Safety, resources, and legal help

If you are in danger, call 9-1-1, and get help immediately.

You can also use the directory of Domestic Violence Services to find an organization in your county that can help. You can also read about Creating a Safety Plan, and Finding a Safe Place to Go.

One Legal Option: A Civil Protective Order

One option is to ask the court for a protective order. With a protective order, a judge can provide a wide range of help by restricting or requiring the abuser to take (or not take) certain actions. Protective orders are available through the District Courts and Circuit Courts in each county. A protective order hearing does not require criminal charges to be filed against the abuser.

This article on Protective Orders will explain the details about this option:

  • What orders can a judge make to protect you, as part of the protective order?
  • Who qualifies to file for a protective order?
  • What is the court process involved in getting a protective order?

Another Legal Option: Pressing Criminal Charges

A second option is to work with the police or a District Court Commissioner to file criminal charges against the abuser. In this option, the abuser may be arrested or summoned to court. If the abuser is charged, a state’s attorney will handle the case, and you may or may not be asked to testify. The abuser may be sentenced to jail time.

This article on Filing Criminal Charges will explain the details about this option.

The articles linked from this introduction are maintained by a cooperative effort of the People’s Law Library of Maryland and the Maryland State Bar Association.

General Domestic Violence Articles

There is a two or three-step process that you must follow to get a domestic violence Protection Order against your abuser.

Definitions of Abuse

Domestic violence is the mistreatment of one family member or intimate partner by another. The abuse can be physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and psychological.
These clues are certainly not definite signs of an abusive relationship, only that there is the potential to become one. Much of the information that we have comes from already identified abusive relationships.

Legal Options

This article describes the options for criminal charges a victim may wish to pursue against an abuser.
All law enforcement entities in Maryland also provide extensive training and guidelines on domestic violence.
This article describes the federal crimes that pertain to domestic violence.
There is a two or three-step process that you must follow to get a domestic violence Protection Order against your abuser.
The 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.
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 article provides an overview of how the Peace Order and Protective Order differ from one another.
This article lists the causes of actions in civil court that a victim may bring against an abuser.
These are the questions that you should be prepared to answer when you have your final protective order hearing.
In 1994, Congress enacted the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) directing jurisdictions to give full faith and credit to valid orders of protection issued by other jurisdictions.
The law and history of interspousal immunity in Maryland.
This section further describes how the Maryland law defines the type of people eligible for legal protection:
This article outlines a number of tips for working with an attorney when you have been abused.
Laws that went into effect October 1, 2010 give victims of domestic violence in rental housing added protections.
This table lists what a judge may order at each stage of a domestic violence case.
Maryland Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE) Service and all Maryland courts that have implemented the Maryland Electronic Filing and Case Management (MDEC) system provide crime victims, victim advocates, and other concerned citizens free offender information and hearing notification.
Under certain circumstances, the Petitioner or the Respondent may file a written request to shield (that is, to remove from public view) the court records relating to a Protective Order or a Peace Order.
Court records are generally open and accessible to the public. This article provides information on how to seal or shield your case records from public view.

Non-Legal Support

This article gives advice on how to guide your friend toward services that can be of assistance.
Violence by an intimate partner can be a serious problem in keeping a job. There are both federal and state laws that provide protection for victims of crimes in the workplace.
This article describes how children are affected by domestic violence and steps parents can take to keep their children safe.
If you are a friend of someone who may be a victim of domestic violence, here are some thoughts and questions you may have.

Other Domestic Violence Articles

Many aggressive children and adolescents have grown up in violent homes and neighborhoods, but some become violent for other reasons.
Dating violence is becoming an increasingly common problem. Teenagers who are subject to dating violence often slip through the cracks of the legal system
Domestic violence is a health issue as well as a legal and social problem. Both physical and emotional abuse can create immediate and long term health problems for you and your children.
Under Maryland law any health practitioner, police officer, or human service worker who has reason to believe that a vulnerable adult is in danger is required to report that fact to the local department of social services. Any concerned person may make such a report.

Safety Issues

Advance preparation and planning can help to protect you if abuse occurs.
This is a model plan to prepare for the possibility for future violence.
This article provides options for where a victim should go after deciding to leave an abuser.
There are many steps you can take to try to keep your personal information private.
When you leave, it is important to take certain items with you. Some people give an extra copy of papers and an extra set of clothing to a friend just in case they have to leave quickly. Plan to put these items in one place so you can grab them quickly.
How to keep your pet safe in a Domestic Violence situation

Top Domestic Violence Articles

This article describes the options for criminal charges a victim may wish to pursue against an abuser.
There is a two or three-step process that you must follow to get a domestic violence Protection Order against your abuser.
The 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.
This article provides an overview of how the Peace Order and Protective Order differ from one another.
This is a model plan to prepare for the possibility for future violence.
This article provides options for where a victim should go after deciding to leave an abuser.
These are the questions that you should be prepared to answer when you have your final protective order hearing.
When you leave, it is important to take certain items with you. Some people give an extra copy of papers and an extra set of clothing to a friend just in case they have to leave quickly. Plan to put these items in one place so you can grab them quickly.