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.
Is this legal advice?

This site offers legal information, not legal advice.  We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options.  However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney.  The Maryland State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site.  In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – © Maryland State Law Library, 2017.”

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