Protective orders exist to protect individuals from various types of abuse and their abusers. They are court orders for the defendant to stay away from the petitioner. In Maryland, there are three types of protective orders: interim, temporary and final.

Interim protective orders are issued by district court commissioners when both circuit and district courts are closed, and go into effect when the defendant is served by a law enforcement officer. This type of protective order remains in effect until a judge holds a temporary hearing.

Temporary protective orders are issued during regular court hours and can be issued “ex parte” (in the absence of the defendant). If issued ex parte, the defendant must be served by law enforcement immediately, unless he or she was already served with an interim protective order, in which case mail service is sufficient. Temporary orders remain in effect for 7 days after service, at which time a court hearing is held for the final protective order. Temporary orders can be extended up to 6 months by a judge.

Final protective orders may be issued by a judge after both parties present their evidence and testimony at a court hearing. Final protective orders generally remain in effect for one year, but can be longer or shorter depending on the judge’s decision and/or prior history of protective orders relating to the parties.

Although most petitioners seek protective orders when it is genuinely necessary, some cases do occur where the system of obtaining a protective order is misused for reasons other than protecting one’s safety. In Maryland, only a preponderance of evidence is required for a petitioner to prove his or her case, so it is imperative that you consult an attorney if you are served with a protective order. Call Azari Law at 301.362.3300 immediately to discuss your options.