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Protective Orders in Maryland and Virginia: What’s the Difference?

by | Mar 28, 2024 | Family Law

In the realm of family law and civil litigation, protective orders serve as crucial legal instruments designed to shield individuals from harm or harassment, be it verbal, emotional, or physical. Whether it’s safeguarding against domestic violence, stalking, or other forms of abuse, these orders play a pivotal role in ensuring the safety and well-being of those in vulnerable situations.

However, the specifics of protective orders can vary significantly from one jurisdiction to another, and an understanding of the requirements and rules for your specific state will prove vital if you or someone you know is ever in a situation where need to obtain or challenge a protective order.

In today’s blog, we’ll compare protective orders in both Maryland and Virginia, shedding light on their similarities, differences, and respective legal frameworks.

Virginia Protective Orders: A Closer Look

In Virginia, protective orders are governed by the Virginia Code, primarily under Title 16.1, Chapter 11. Virginia offers three main types of protective orders:

  • Emergency Protective Orders (EPOs): These orders can be issued by judges or magistrates outside of regular court hours and typically last for 72 hours, providing immediate protection in urgent situations before a more formal protective order can be established.
  • Preliminary Protective Orders (PPOs): Issued by a judge, PPOs are temporary orders that can last up to 15 days and are granted ex parte, meaning only one party is present for the hearing. Just like with EPOs, these are meant to provide a short-term resolution prior to a full protective order being established, though they’re obviously meant for less urgent situations than an “emergency protective order.”
  • Protective Orders: Similarly to Maryland’s “final protective orders,” protective orders in Virginia can be issued for up to two years following a full hearing where both parties have the opportunity to present evidence and testimony to support their side of the case.

Virginia protective orders may include provisions such as no-contact directives, temporary custody arrangements, and orders to vacate the shared residence.

Comparing Maryland and Virginia: Key Distinctions

While both Maryland and Virginia aim to provide protection through their respective legal mechanisms, several notable differences exist between the two states’ protective order frameworks:
Duration: Maryland typically issues protective orders for up to one year, whereas Virginia’s protective orders can extend for up to two years.

Emergency Orders: Virginia offers Emergency Protective Orders (EPOs) with a duration of 72 hours, while Maryland’s Interim Protective Orders serve a similar purpose but are issued by District Court commissioners.

Residency Requirement: Unlike Maryland, Virginia imposes a residency requirement for obtaining protective orders, meaning you must live in the state at the time of requesting the PO to be eligible.

Navigating Protective Orders in Maryland and Virginia

Protective orders are indispensable tools in ensuring the safety and well-being of individuals facing threats or violence. Whether in Maryland or Virginia, understanding the nuances of protective order laws is essential for those seeking legal protection from abuse. While both states share the common goal of safeguarding individuals from harm, differences in duration, procedures, and terminology underscore the importance of consulting with legal professionals familiar with the specific laws and regulations of each jurisdiction.

Need Help Obtaining a Protective Order? Call us TODAY!

Despite the seemingly straightforward nature of a PO in either state, it’s impossible to fully understand or account for all the different factors that may come into play when obtaining or defending yourself against one, and your best first step is to speak with an experienced, capable attorney about your situation.

Luckily, that’s where JC Law comes in!

Whether you live in Maryland or Virginia, our experienced family law and domestic attorneys have handled thousands of these cases, and will be with you every step of the way. Schedule your free consultation here or give us a call at 888-JCLAW-10.  By navigating the legal landscape effectively, you can secure the protection they need and deserve in times of vulnerability.