Maryland has long seen the benefits of allowing victims of domestic abuse to obtain court orders that prohibit abusers from having contact with their victims. Currently, Maryland recognizes three types of protective orders: interim, temporary, and final.
The interim protective order is really a method of last resort. Victims seeking protection from the courts when the court clerk's offices at both the circuit and district courts are closed can still receive an interim effective order in some cases. Typically, a victim will seek out the nearest district court commissioner and appeal to them for assistance. However, a personal representative of the victim can also ask for relief.
The commissioner then may issue an interim protective order if he or she finds the information regarding the abuse credible. That order goes into effect as soon as a law enforcement official serves a copy of the order on the abuser. This order usually stays in effect for just a few days and typically will be replaced by a temporary protective order as soon as the courts reopen.
The temporary protective order, as its name implies, is only meant to prevent the abuser from having contact with the victim for seven days after it is served on the abuser. The court will then hold a full court hearing at the end of those seven days to determine whether a final protective order is necessary. One of the benefits of the temporary protective order is that the victim can obtain this protection with or without the abuser being present (ex-parte). Generally, this order will be in effect only seven days, although a judge can extend it for six months.
A final protective order will generally remain effective for a period of one year. A court can only issue this type of order if both sides have had a chance to present their evidence and testimony for the court's consideration. It's important to note that the victim's presence is required at this hearing.