Domestic Violence Lawyer
Everyone deserves a safe home, and relationships with loved ones that fulfill and uplift them.. However, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, on average, more than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have or will experience abuse or physical violence from intimate partners in their lifetime, leading to bodily harm, psychological trauma, and/or other serious consequences. Whether you are experiencing domestic violence or you've been accused of committing domestic violence, the physical, emotional, mental, financial, and other ramifications can be grave. While there are many life-altering consequences triggered by domestic violence—both for the accuser and the accused—legal penalties typically manifest in the form of protective orders and criminal charges.
If you need help seeking legal protection from violence or representation when a protective or peace order has been filed against you, Z Family Law's qualified domestic violence attorneys and legal counsel are here to help.
The Different Forms of Domestic Violence
There are many different types of domestic violence. The most common types are physical violence, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and financial abuse.
- Physical violence is when one person uses physical force to hurt or injure another person. This can include hitting, slapping, pushing, choking, and using weapons.
- Emotional abuse is when one person uses words or actions to hurt or scare the other person. This can encompass verbal abuse, threats, and stalking.
- Sexual abuse is any unwanted sexual activity. This can include unwanted touching, rape, and sexual assault.
- Financial abuse is when one person uses money to control or hurt the other person. This can include withholding money, taking away money, or forcing the other person to do unpaid work.
If you have experienced any of the above forms of domestic violence or are being accused of committing abuse, the next step is to schedule an initial case assessment with our legal team to help you understand the legal process for reporting or defending against accusations of domestic violence and how best to proceed.
What Is a Protective Order?
A protective order (“PO”) is Maryland’s version of a “restraining order.” Essentially, this is an order by the court that can be sought by anyone who has suffered an act of domestic violence by a qualifying romantic partner, co-habitant, or family member, to protect them from abuse.
Depending on the circumstances, a protective court order may state that the respondent (the person against whom the protective order has been filed) must stay away from the petitioner (the person who filed the protective order), must stop threatening or abusing them, must not contact the petitioner, may need to leave or stay out of the home, and may not commit certain acts against them. Protective orders can also award the petitioner temporary custody of children and/or pets, require that the respondent participate in counseling, and/or stipulate that the respondent pay money to support the petitioner and shared child(ren), among other forms of relief. In the state of Maryland, anyone alleging an act of domestic violence can seek a protective order at any hour, even in the absence of an active criminal case or investigation. There is no fee to file for a protective order.
For a respondent who hasn’t broken the law, a protective order can be destructively life-changing since the burden of proof to obtain one is relatively low. Because of this, one person’s allegations—whether true or false—can swiftly result in the respondent being prevented from returning to a shared home or having custody of their children, among other things.
Can a Protective Order Be Denied?
If you are considering obtaining a protective order against someone you are related to, live or have lived with, or or have been in a romantic relationship with, you may be wondering what evidence you need to provide. In Maryland, the law stipulates that when filing for a protective order, the petitioner holds the burden of proof by “reasonable grounds” and to obtain a final protective order, the petitioner must prove to the court that it is more likely than not that the abuse did indeed occur . This means you should provide any evidence you have of the domestic violence itself. This can include police reports, hospital or medical records, pictures of injuries, and/or witness statements. You may also need to provide evidence of the relationship between you and the abuser. This can include letters, emails, text messages, or any other form of communication between you and the abuser. If you are considering obtaining a restraining order, it is important to speak with one of our domestic violence attorneys to determine the specific evidence that is related to your case.
Do You Have To Provide Evidence of Domestic Violence To Get a Protective Order?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of whether a restraining order will be denied, as the decision will be based on the specific facts and circumstances of the case. However, the court can deny a protective order if the petitioner does not provide sufficient proof that the abuse occurred, or if the respondent sufficiently challenges the petitioner’s evidence. Our domestic violence attorneys will advise you on what evidence you need to either prove abuse as the petitioner, or disprove the accusations as the respondent, so you have the best chance at achieving your desired outcome when it comes to seeking or defending against a protective order petition.
Violating a Protective Order
Under Maryland law, once a person has been served with a protective order, it’s considered valid and enforceable, which means they may be charged with a criminal offense upon violation. Protective orders are typically issued in cases of physical violence, but they can also be issued in cases of sexual assault, harassment, or stalking. Violating a protective order can result in a misdemeanor or felony charge and can carry a prison sentence of up to five years. It’s also important to remember that violating a restraining order can have other consequences, such as losing custody of your children or being evicted from your home.
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Domestic & Sexual Violence
Finding the Right Domestic Violence Attorney for You
Whether you’re a victim fearing for your safety or a respondent looking to secure a fair trial, our qualified legal team of domestic violence attorneys is here for you. If you’re a victim of domestic violence, you may be feeling scared and alone. Our domestic violence attorneys are here for you to provide legal counsel. If you’re a respondent in a domestic violence case, you need to take steps to secure a fair trial. You should seek help from our legal counsel and consider getting a restraining order. As you navigate this challenging time, having one of our trusted domestic violence lawyers to help you make rational, well-guided legal decisions is essential. By combining our vast legal experience, we’ll design a tailored strategy to help you take back your power and build the new beginning you’ve been seeking.