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Legal Information: Maryland

Maryland Restraining Orders

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Restraining Orders

A restraining order is a legal order issued by a state court which requires one person to stop harming another. In Maryland, there are domestic violence protective orders, peace orders, and extreme risk protection orders, which are explained in this section.

Domestic Violence Protective Orders

A domestic violence protective order is a civil order that protects: a victim of domestic abuse from harm by someone with whom s/he has a specific relationship; a vulnerable adult from abuse by any person regardless of their relationship; or a child who is sexually abused (by anyone) or physically or mentally injured by a parent, family/household member, caretaker or others.

Basic information

What is the legal definition of domestic abuse in Maryland?

This section defines domestic abuse for the purposes of getting a protective order (also known as a “domestic violence protective order,” or “DVPO”).

Maryland law defines “abuse” as when someone with whom you have a specific relationship commits one of the following against you:

  • assault in the 1st degree or 2nd degree;
  • an act that places you in fear of immediate serious bodily harm or actually causes you serious bodily harm;
  • rape in the 1st degree or 2nd degree;
  • attempted rape (in any degree);
  • sexual offense in the 3rd degree or 4th degree;
  • attempted sexual offense (in any degree);
  • stalking;
  • false imprisonment (such as holding you somewhere against your will); or
  • revenge porn.1

If the abused person is a child, s/he can also get a domestic violence protective order based on “abuse of a child,” which is defined as:

  1. sexual abuse of a child (by anyone), whether physical injuries are sustained or not; or
  2. the physical or mental injury of a child under circumstances that indicate that the child’s health or welfare is harmed or at substantial risk of being harmed by:
    • a parent;
    • a household member or family member;
    • a person who has permanent or temporary care or custody of the child;
    • a person who has responsibility for supervision of the child; or
    • a person who, because of the person’s position or occupation, has authority over the child.2

If the abused person is a vulnerable adult (someone who lacks the physical or mental capacity to provide for his/her daily needs), s/he can also get a domestic violence protective order based on “abuse of a vulnerable adult,” which is defined as:

  • physical injury caused by any person (regardless of their relationship). The physical injury can happen as the result of cruel or inhumane treatment or as the result of a malicious act.3

1 MD Code, Fam. Law § 4-501(b)(1)
2 MD Code, Fam. Law §§ 4-501(b)(2); 5-701(b)
3 MD Code, Fam. Law §§ 4-501(b)(3); 14-101(b), (q)

What types of protective orders are there? How long do they last?

There are three types of protective orders:

Interim protective orders - If you wish to file for a protective order but the court clerk’s office is closed in both the circuit and district courts, you can file for an interim order by going to the nearest district court commissioner. An interim order goes into effect once the respondent is served by a law enforcement officer. The interim order lasts until a judge holds a temporary hearing, which is usually within a couple of days unless the judge postpones it. If the court is closed on the day on which the interim protective order is due to expire, the interim protective order will be effective until the next day on which the court is open, at which time the judge has to hold a temporary protective order hearing.1

Temporary protective orders - When you go to court during normal court hours to file for a final protective order, you can ask for a temporary protective order, which can be issued the same day. This order can be issued “ex parte” (without the abuser present) and without a full court hearing. If the abuser is not present in court, law enforcement is supposed to serve him/her “immediately” after it is issued. If the abuser was already served with an interim order and is present in court, s/he can be served with the temporary order in court or if s/he doesn’t show up to court, it will be served through the mail. The temporary order is in effect for 7 days after service of the order, at which point a full court hearing will be held for a final protective order. If the court is closed on the day on which the temporary protective order is due to expire, the temporary protective order will be effective until the second day on which the court is open, by which time the judge has to hold a final protective order hearing. The judge may extend the temporary order as needed, but not to more than 6 months.2

Final protective orders - A final protective order can be issued only after both sides have the opportunity to present their evidence and testimony at a full court hearing. If the judge believes that the abuse has occurred, or if the abuser agrees to you getting the protective order, the judge may grant a final protective order.3 A final protective order will generally last up to one year, unless otherwise stated. However, it can last for up to two years, if:

  1. you had an order against the abuser before that lasted for at least 6 months, and s/he abused you again within 1 year of your old order expiring; or
  2. if the abuser consents to the 2-year order within 1 year after the date that your prior final protective order issued against him/her expired.4

Final orders may also be extended and it may be possible in the future to request a permanent protective order that lasts forever if certain circumstances are met.5 See How do I change or extend my protective order? for more information.

1 MD Code, Fam. Law § 4-504.1(a), (b), (e)(1), (h)
2 MD Code, Fam. Law § 4-505(a)(1), (b), (c)
3 MD Code, Fam. Law § 4-506(c)(1)(ii)
4 MD Code, Fam. Law § 4-506(j)(1), (j)(2)
5 MD Code, Fam. Law §§ 4-507(a); 4-506(k)(1), (k)(3)

Where can I file for a domestic violence protective order?

You can file for an order in any district court or circuit court in Maryland.  You can file in Maryland if the abuse happened in Maryland or if you live in Maryland (even if the abuse happened in another state).1

If the clerk’s office is open, you would file with the clerk.  If the clerk’s office is closed, you would file with a district court commissioner.2  Please visit our MD Courthouse Locations page to find courthouse contact information.

1 MD Code, Fam. Law § 4-504(a)(2)
2 See the Maryland Courts website

The protections offered in each type of order

What protections can I get in an interim protective order?

An interim protective order can do the following:

  • order the abuser to not abuse or threaten to abuse you or anyone else listed in the order;
  • order the abuser to not contact, try to contact, or harass you or anyone else listed in the order;
  • order the abuser to not enter your home;
  • order the abuser to stay away from you and/or your child(ren)’s work place, school, temporary residence (such as a shelter), or other family members’ homes;
  • order the abuser to move out of the house (if you shared it) and give you (the victim) temporary use and possession of the home – if the victim is an abused child or vulnerable adult, the temporary use and possession of the home can be given to an adult living in the home. Note: This temporary use/possession of the home can only be granted to a non-spouse if his/her name is on the lease/deed or if s/he shared the home with the abuser for at least 90 days during the 1-year period before the protective order was filed;
  • give you temporary possession of any pet owned by you or the respondent; and
  • give you temporary custody of any children you have with the abuser.1

In addition, if the other parent has the child, the judge can order that the child be returned to you and can order law enforcement to use reasonable and necessary force to return the child to you.2

Note: Even without a protective order, if you have been the victim of abuse and you believe that you are in danger of immediate harm, you can request the help of local law enforcement to accompany you to the “family home” to remove the following items (regardless of who paid for the items):

  • the personal clothing of you and of any child in your care; and
  • the personal belongings, including medicine or medical devices, of you and of any child in your care.3

1 MD Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-504.1(c)
2 MD Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-504.1(d)
3 MD Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-502(a)(2)

What protections can I get in a temporary protective order?

A temporary protective order can do the following:

  • order the abuser to not abuse or threaten to abuse you or anyone else listed in the order;
  • order the abuser to not contact, try to contact, or harass you or anyone else listed in the order;
  • order the abuser to not enter your home;
  • order the abuser to stay away from you and/or your child(ren)’s work place, school, temporary residence (such as a shelter), or other family members’ homes;
  • order the abuser to stay away from your child(ren)’s child-care provider while the child is there;
  • order the abuser to move out of the house (if you shared it) and give you (the victim) temporary use and possession of the home – if the victim is an abused child or vulnerable adult, the temporary use and possession of the home can be given to an adult living in the home. Note: This temporary use/possession of the home can only be granted to a non-spouse if his/her name is on the lease/deed or if s/he shared the home with the abuser for at least 90 days during the 1-year period before the protective order was filed. (See Can a DVPO make the abuser move out? for more information);
  • give you temporary possession of any pet owned by you or the respondent;
  • give you temporary custody of children you have with the abuser; (Note: If the other parent has the child, the judge can order that the child be returned to you and can order law enforcement to use reasonable and necessary force to return the child to you); and
  • order the respondent to give to law enforcement any firearms in his/her possession and to not have/use any firearms while you have the temporary protective order if the abuse consisted of:
    • the use or threatened use of a firearm by the respondent against a you; or
    • serious bodily harm (or a threat to cause serious bodily harm) to you.1

Note: Even without a protective order, if you have been the victim of abuse and you believe that you are in danger of immediate harm, you can request the help of local law enforcement to accompany you to the “family home” to remove the following items (regardless of who paid for the items):

  • the personal clothing of you and of any child in your care; and
  • the personal belongings, including medicine or medical devices, of you and of any child in your care.2

1 MD Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-505(a)(2)
2 MD Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-502(a)(2)

What protections can I get in a final protective order?

A final protective order can do the following:

  • order the abuser to not abuse or threaten to abuse you or anyone else listed in the order;
  • order the abuser to not contact, try to contact, or harass you or anyone else listed in the order;
  • order the abuser to not enter your home;
  • order the abuser to stay away from you and/or your child(ren)’s work place, school, temporary residence (such as a shelter), or other family members’ homes;
  • order the abuser to stay away from your child(ren)’s child-care provider while the child is there;
  • order the abuser to move out of the house (if you shared it) and give you (the victim) temporary use and possession of the home – if the victim is an abused child or vulnerable adult, the temporary use and possession of the home can be given to an adult living in the home. Note: This temporary use/possession of the home can only be granted to a non-spouse if his/her name is on the lease/deed or if s/he shared the home with the abuser for at least 90 days during the 1-year period before the protective order was filed. (See Can a DVPO make the abuser move out? for more information);
  • give you temporary possession of any pet owned by you or the respondent;
  • give you temporary custody of any children you have with the abuser;
  • set up temporary visitation with children you and the abuser have together while keeping the safety of you and the child in mind – therefore, visits can be supervised or denied if the judge believes that is necessary to keep you and/or the child safe;
  • order the abuser to pay you emergency family maintenance (child support and/or spousal support) and garnish the abuser’s wages if necessary;
  • give you temporary use and possession of a vehicle jointly owned by you and the respondent if it’s necessary for your job or for caring for a child you and the respondent have;
  • order you and/or the abuser to go to counseling or a domestic violence program;
  • order the abuser to pay the filling fees and costs of your court case; and
  • order any other relief that the judge believes is necessary to protect you.1

Note: Even without a protective order, if you have been the victim of abuse and you believe that you are in danger of immediate harm, you can request the help of local law enforcement to accompany you to the “family home” to remove the following items (regardless of who paid for the items):

  • the personal clothing of you and of any child in your care; and
  • the personal belongings, including medicine or medical devices, of you and of any child in your care.2

1 MD Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-506(d)
2 MD Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-502(a)(2)

What factors will a judge look at when deciding whether or not the abuser should be removed from the home?

When deciding whether or not to order that the abuser be removed from the home under a temporary or final protective order, the judge will consider the following factors:

  • the housing needs of any minor child living in the home;
  • how long your relationship with the abuser has lasted;
  • whose name is on the title to the home;
  • the type of any criminal charges against the abuser and the status of the criminal case against him/her;
  • the history and severity of abuse in the relationship between you and the abuser;
  • whether or not you and/or the abuser have anywhere else to stay; and
  • the financial resources of both you and the abuser.1

1 MD Code, Fam. Law § 4-506(h)

Who can get a protective order

Am I eligible for a protective order? Who can file the petition?

You can be eligible for a protective order if you or your minor child has been the victim of abuse by:

  • your current or former spouse;1
  • someone with whom you had a sexual relationship and with whom you lived for at least 90 days during the 1-year period before you filed for the protective order (known as a “cohabitant”);2
  • someone with whom you had a sexual relationship at some point in the 1-year period before the filing of the petition (even if you never lived together);
  • someone related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption; or
  • someone with whom you have a child in common.
  • Note: A parent, step-parent, child or step-child of you or the abuser can file for an order if s/he lived with you or the abuser for at least 90 days during the 1-year period before filing for the order.1

A “vulnerable adult,”1 which is an adult who lacks the physical or mental capacity to provide for his/her daily needs, can file for an order against any person (regardless of their relationship) who caused him/her physical injury as the result of cruel treatment or a malicious act.3

Any of the following people can file for a protective order for a minor child or vulnerable adult:

  • the minor or vulnerable adult himself/herself;
  • a person related to the child or vulnerable adult by blood, marriage or adoption;
  • an adult who lives with the child or vulnerable adult;
  • the state attorney (a lawyer working for the government) for the county where the child or vulnerable adult lives or where the abuse took place; or
  • the Department of Social Services in the county where the child or vulnerable adult lives or where the abuse took place.4

Note: If you are not eligible for a protective order, but you have been the victim of abuse and need protection, you may be eligible to file for a peace order.

1 MD Code, Fam. Law § 4-501(m)
2 MD Code, Fam. Law §§ 4-501(m); 4-501(d)
3 MD Code, Fam. Law § 14-101(b),(q)
4 MD Code Family Law § 4-501(o)

Can I get a protective order against a same-sex partner?

In Maryland, you may apply for a protective order against a current or former same-sex partner as long as the relationship meets the requirements listed in Am I eligible for a protective order? Who can file the petition? You must also be the victim of an act of domestic abuse, which is explained here: What is the legal definition of domestic abuse in Maryland?

You can find information about LGBTQIA victims of abuse and what types of barriers they may face on our LGBTQIA Victims page.

Can a minor file for an order?

The law says that any “person who is eligible for relief” can file for a protective order.1  Therefore, a minor who meets the criteria in explained in Am I eligible for a protective order? Who can file the petition? should be able to file his/her own petition. However, to be certain that the court in your county interprets the law in this way to allow a minor to file his/her own petition, you may want to ask the court clerk or a lawyer in your county ahead of time.  To find courthouse contact information and attorney referrals, you can go to our MD Places that Help page.  

In addition, the following people can file on the minor’s behalf

  • a person related to the minor child by blood, marriage or adoption;
  • an adult who lives with the minor child;
  • the state attorney (a lawyer working for the government) for the county where the minor child lives or where the abuse took place; or
  • the Department of Social Services in the county where the minor child lives or where the abuse took place.2

1 MD Code Family Law § 4-501(m),(o)(2)(i)
2 MD Code Family Law § 4-501(o)(2)(ii)

How much does it cost to get a protective order?

Nothing.  There is no fee to file for (or to serve) a protective order.1

You do not need a lawyer to file for a protective order, but it may be helpful to have one represent you. This is especially important if the abuser has a lawyer and/or if the case goes to trial.  Even if the abuser does not have a lawyer, we suggest that you talk to a lawyer to make sure your legal rights are protected.

If you cannot afford a lawyer but want one to help you with your case, you can find information on legal assistance and domestic violence organizations on the MD Places that Help page. In addition, the domestic violence organizations in your area and/or court staff may be able to answer some of your questions or help you fill out the necessary court forms. You will find contact information for courthouses on the MD Courthouse Locations page.

1 MD Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-504(c)

Steps for getting a protective order

Step 1: Get the petition.

You can get a “petition for protection,” as it is called, from the court clerk at any circuit or district court, or from a district court commissioner in your city/county during regular court hours.  District court commissioners are available anytime if the courts are closed.  If you want a temporary order, you may want to express this to the clerk when you get the forms.  To find the courthouse closest to you, go to the MD Courthouse Locations page.  To find a district court commissioner in your area you can visit the District Court of MD Commissioner Directory.
   
You can ask the court clerk to provide you with a “notification request form” to fill out if you would like to be notified once the temporary order (and, later, the final order) is served on the abuser.1  (By law, the clerk is supposed to provide this form to you.2) If you complete this form, law enforcement would notify the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services within two hours of serving the abuser and the Department has one hour to notify you of the service.3

1 MD Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-504(d)(1)
2 MD Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-504(d)(3)
3 MD Code Ann., Fam. Law, §§ 4-504.1(g)(3); 4-505(b)(1)(ii)

Step 2: Carefully fill out the necessary forms.

On the petition, you are the “petitioner” and the abuser is the “respondent.”  Write briefly about the most recent incident(s) of violence, using descriptive language - words like “slapping,” “hitting,” “grabbing,” “threatening,” “choking,” etc. - that fits your situation.  Be specific.  

When giving your address, you may want to give a safe mailing address and phone number or ask the clerk if you can keep this information confidential if you don’t want the abuser to know where you are staying.  

If you need assistance filling out the forms, you may be able to ask the clerk for help.  Some courts may have an advocate that can assist you.  Another option is to find help through a local domestic violence organization – see our MD Advocates and Shelters page.  A clerk or advocate can show you which blanks to fill in, but they cannot help you decide what to write.  You will find links to the forms you will need at our MD Download Court Forms page or from the courthouse in your area.

Be sure to sign the forms in front of a notary or a clerk.  Remember to bring some form of photo identification since this may be necessary to have your petition notarized in court.

Step 3: The ex parte hearing

When you are done filling out the forms, the clerk will take your completed file to a judge for your ex parte hearing. This is a preliminary hearing that can grant you a petition for protection (a temporary protective order). At this hearing, the judge will read your petition for protection and may ask you why you want a final protective order and some additional questions.

If the judge grants a temporary protective order, the court clerk will give you a copy of the order. Review the order before you leave the courthouse to make sure that the information is correct. If something is wrong or missing, you may be able to ask the clerk to correct the order before you leave. The temporary order is good until you have your scheduled hearing for a final protective order. The judge will also set a date for your final hearing, which is usually within 7 days.1

1 MD Code, Fam. Law § 4-506(b)(1)(ii)

Step 4: Service of process

The abuser must be “served,” or given papers that tell him/her about the hearing date and your temporary protective order (if the judge gave you one). Do not attempt to serve the papers on the abuser yourself.

The clerk will either send the order to the police, or have you bring it to the police yourself. The police will then find the abuser and serve him/her notice of the temporary protective order (if the judge gave you one) as well as the notice of the scheduled final protective order hearing. There is no charge to have the authorities serve the abuser.1

Furthermore, you have the right to be notified within three hours after an interim, temporary or final protective order is served on the abuser.2 (Law enforcement has two hours to notify the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and that Department has one hour to notify you.3) The court clerk is supposed to provide you with a notification request form to fill out when you file for your protective order.4 Be sure to ask for it if you want to be notified.

1 MD Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-505(b)(3)
2 MD Code, Family Law, § 4-504(d)(1)
3 MD Code, Family Law, §§ 4-504.1(f)(3); 4-505(b)(1)(ii)
4 MD Code, Family Law, § 4-504(d)(3)

Step 5: The final hearing

The judge will set a final hearing date usually within 7 days of when you filed your petition.1  You must go to the hearing if you want to keep your protective order.  If you do not go to the hearing, your temporary protective order will expire and you will have to start the process over again.  

If the abuser has received notice of the hearing, but does not show up, the judge may continue with the hearing anyway.2  The temporary order will usually only last until the hearing, but it may be extended in some situations.  For example, if the abuser has not received notice of the hearing and does not show up, the judge may order a new hearing date and extend your temporary restraining order for a period of up to 6 months to allow for service.3 

Note: A case can be continued (postponed) if there is “good cause” to do so.1  If the court does issue a continuance, the judge should also reissue or extend your temporary order since your original one will probably expire before the rescheduled hearing.

Generally, it is a good idea to have a lawyer represent you, especially if you think the abuser will have one.  Go to our MD Finding a Lawyer page for legal referrals.  If you are going to be representing yourself, see the Preparing Your Case page for tips. 

1 MD Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-506(b)(1)(ii)
2 MD Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-506(c)(1)
3 MD Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-505(c)(2)

After the hearing

Can the abuser have a gun?

Once you get a protection order, there may be laws that prohibit the respondent from having a gun in his/her possession.  There are a few places where you can find this information:

  • first, read the questions on this page to see if judges in Maryland have to power to remove guns as part of a temporary or final order;
  • second, go to our State Gun Laws section to read about your state’s specific gun-related laws; and
  • third you can read our Federal Gun Laws section to understand the federal laws that apply to all states.

You can read more about keeping an abuser from accessing guns on the National Domestic Violence and Firearms Resource Center’s website

What should I do when I leave the courthouse?

Here are some ideas for things that you may want to do when leaving court – you will have to decide which ones work for you:

  • Make several copies of the protective order as soon as possible.
  • Keep a copy of the order with you at all times.
  • Leave copies of the order at your work place, at your home, at the children’s school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on.
  • Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work along with a photo of the abuser.
  • Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
  • One week after court, call your local law enforcement offices to make sure they have received copies of the protective order.  If they have not, you may want to ask if you can deliver a copy to them.
  • Take steps to safety plan, including possibly changing your locks and your phone number.

Ongoing safety planning is important after receiving the order. People can do a number of things to increase their safety during violent incidents, when preparing to leave an abusive relationship, and when they are at home, work, and school.  Many batterers obey protective orders, but some do not.  It is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe.  For more information please visit the Safety Tips page.  Advocates at local resource centers can assist you in designing a safety plan and can provide other forms of support.

I was not granted a protective order. How can I stay safe?

If you are not granted protective order, there are still some things you can do to stay safe.  It might be a good idea to contact one of the domestic violence resource centers in your area to get help, support, and advice. They can help you develop a safety plan and help connect you with the resources you need.  For safety planning help, ideas, and information, go to our Safety Tips page. To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please visit our MD Advocates and Shelters page.

Even without a protective order, if you have been the victim of abuse and you believe that you are in danger of immediate harm, you can request the help of local law enforcement to accompany you to the “family home” to remove the following items (regardless of who paid for the items):

  • the personal clothing of you and of any child in your care; and
  • the personal belongings, including medicine or medical devices, of you and of any child in your care.1

If you were not granted protective order because your relationship with the abuser does not qualify, you may be able to seek protection through a peace order.  You may also be able to reapply for a protective order if a new incident of domestic abuse occurs after you are denied the order.

If you believe the judge made an error of law, you can talk to someone at a domestic violence organization or a lawyer about the possibility of an appeal. Generally, appeals are complicated and you will most likely need the help of a lawyer. See our Filing Appeals page for general info on appeals. 

1 MD Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-502(a)(2)

What can I do if the abuser violates the order?

You can call the police and/or file a petition for contempt in court even if you think it is a minor violation. It could be a crime and contempt of court if the abuser knowingly violates the order.1 A judge can punish someone for being in contempt of court. In addition, the police can arrest him/her depending on the violation. If the police witnessed the violation or have probable cause to believe the violation occurred, the police are supposed to arrest him/her.2 If the police are not involved or do not arrest him/her or file a criminal complaint against him/her, you still may be able to file a contempt complaint against him/her in court.3

If the police do respond to your call, it might be a good idea to write down the name of the responding officer(s) and their badge number in case you want to follow up on your case.

1 See MD Code, Fam. Law § 4-508
2 MD Code, Fam. Law § 4-509
3 MD Rule 15-206(b)(2)

How do I change or extend my protective order?

Extending your order
You may apply to the court to have your order extended and the judge could grant this after the abuser is given notice and after a hearing in front of a judge. The hearing must take place within 30 days after you file the motion. If the hearing is scheduled after the original expiration date of the final protective order, the order will be extended until the hearing.1 A judge can extend the protective order (without any new incidents of abuse) for 6 months beyond the time it is supposed to end if you can show “good cause” (a good reason) why it should be extended.2 The order can be extended for up to 2 years if you can prove that during the term of your protective order, the abuser committed a new act of abuse against you or if the abuser consents to the extension.3 To determine how long this extension based on new abuse should be, the judge will consider the following factors:

  • what the new abusive act was and how severe (serious) it was;
  • the history and severity of abuse in the relationship between the abuser and you (or anyone named in your order);
  • the type of any pending criminal charges against the respondent; and
  • the nature and seriousness of any injury or risk of injury caused by the respondent.3

Lastly, you can petition for a new permanent protective order with no end date (it lasts forever) if:

  • you had an interim, temporary, or final protective order against the abuser; and
  • s/he was convicted and sentenced to serve at least five years in prison (and actually served at least 12 months of that sentence) for:
    • the abuse against you that was the basis for getting that prior interim, temporary, or final protective order; or
    • committing a new act of abuse against you while you had that prior interim, temporary, or final protective order.4

Changing your order
You can file to change or withdraw your order. The judge could grant this after the abuser is given notice and after a hearing in front of a judge.5

1 MD Code, Fam. Law § 4-507(a)(2), (a)(4)
2 MD Code, Fam. Law § 4-507(a)(2)
3 MD Code, Fam. Law § 4-507(a)(3)
4 MD Code, Fam. Law § 4-506(k)(1), (k)(3)
5 MD Code, Fam. Law § 4-507(a)(1)

What happens to my protective order if I move?

If you move within Maryland, your order will still be valid (good).  Additionally, the federal law provides what is called “full faith and credit,” which means that once you have a criminal or civil protective order, it follows you wherever you go, including U.S. Territories and tribal lands.1  See our Moving to Another State with a Protective Order page for more information.

You may want to consider whether you want to give your new address to the court in case the court needs to contact you for any reason.  

1 18 USC § 2265

Under what circumstances can I request that the court records be shielded from public view?

Either party can file a written request to shield from public view all court records related to a protective order proceeding if:

  • a petition for a protective order was denied or dismissed at the interim, temporary, or final protective order stage; or
  • the respondent agreed (consented) to a protective order being issued. In this case, the request must be filed after the protective order expires.1

Note: If the request to shield is filed within the first three years after the denial or dismissal of the petition or the consent to the entry of the protective order, the person who makes this request would need to also sign a “general waiver and release” that removes any possibility that the person can file a civil lawsuit related to the protective order proceeding.2

After the request to shield is filed, the judge would hold a hearing where both parties have the opportunity to appear in court. The judge can order that the records be shielded if:

  • there was no prior final protective order or peace order issued against the respondent in a proceeding between the petitioner and the respondent;
  • the respondent has not been found guilty of a crime arising from abuse against the petitioner;
  • none of the following are pending at the time of the hearing to shield the order:
    • an interim or temporary protective order or peace order against the respondent in a proceeding between the petitioner and the respondent; or
    • a criminal charge against the respondent arising from alleged abuse against the petitioner;3 and
  • in the case where the request is filed after the respondent agreed (consented) to the protective order, the respondent must not have violated the protective order.4

However, even if all of these above factors are true, the judge can still deny the request to shield if the judge believes there is “good cause” to do so. In making this decision, the judge will balance the privacy concerns of either or both parties and the potential danger or risk of future harm to the victim or the community at large.5

1 MD Code, Family Law, § 4-512(b), (e)(1)(i)
2 MD Code, Family Law, § 4-512(c)
3 MD Code, Family Law, § 4-512(d)(3)
4 MD Code, Family Law, § 4-512(e)(1)(i)
5 MD Code, Family Law, § 4-512(d)(4)

Peace Orders

A peace order is similar to a domestic violence protective order in that they both require you to be a victim of abuse and they both offer you similar forms of protection from the abuser.  However, if your relationship to the abuser falls under the category for a domestic violence protective order, you would not be eligible for a peace order.

Basic information

What types of peace orders are there? How long do they last?

There are three types of peace orders.  Each can be issued if the judge believes that you have been abused by the person you are filing against and that the abuser is likely to abuse you again in the future.1

Interim peace orders. If you wish to file for a peace order but the district court clerk’s office is closed, you can file for an interim order by going to the nearest District Court commissioner.2  The interim peace order lasts until:

  • a judge holds a temporary peace order hearing (the first or second day on which a District Court judge is working after the order is issued); or
  • the end of the second business day that the court clerk’s office is open after the order is issued, whichever comes sooner.3  

Note: Even if you are denied an interim peace order, you can still apply for a temporary or final peace order.4

Temporary peace orders. When you go to court during normal court hours to file for a final peace order, you can ask for a temporary peace order, which can be issued the same day without the abuser present (ex parte).5  The order is effective when it is served.6  The temporary order is in effect for up to 7 days after service of the order. (If the court is closed on the day on which the temporary peace order is due to expire, it is effective until the second day on which the court is open, by which time the court should hold a final peace order hearing.)  However, the judge may extend the temporary order to allow for service of the order or for another good reason, but not to more than 30 days.7   Note: If the respondent is at the hearing, the judge may go ahead and hold a hearing for a final peace order instead of a temporary one if you and the respondent agree to this.8

Final peace orders. The respondent has the opportunity to be present at the final peace order hearing to object to the order - and each of you can present evidence, testimony, witnesses, etc., to prove your case.  The order can last for up to 6 months but can be extended.9  See Can I modify, cancel or extend my peace order? for more information.

1 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. §§ 3-1503.1(b); 3-1504(a)(1); 3-1505(c)(1)(ii)
2 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1503.1(a); “Peace and Protective Orders” Brochure, MD Judiciary
3 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1503.1(g), (d)(1)(ii)
4 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1503.1(h)
5 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1504(a)(1)
6 See generally MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1504(b); “Peace and Protective Orders” Brochure, MD Judiciary
7 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1504(c)
8 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1504(d)
9 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. §§ 3-1505(a),(c)(1)(ii),(f); 3-1506(a)(2)

What acts of abuse would qualify me for a peace order?

You can file for a peace order if one or more of the following acts has happened within 30 days before you file for the order:

Note: You can file in Maryland if one of the above acts happened in Maryland or if you live in Maryland but the act(s) happened in another state.2

1 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1503(a)(1)
1 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1503(a)(2)

What protections can I get in a peace order?

Interim, temporary and final peace orders can order the respondent to:

  • stop committing or threatening to commit an act of abuse against you;
  • stop contacting, attempting to contact, or harassing you; and
  • stay away from your home, place of employment, school, or temporary residence.1

Additionally, only a final peace order can order:

  • you or the respondent to participate in professionally supervised counseling ;
  • you and the respondent to go to mediation if you both agree to it; and
  • you or the respondent to pay the filing fees and costs of the proceeding.2

1 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. §§ 3-1503.1(c)(2); 3-1504(a)(2); 3-1505(d)(1)
2 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1505(d)(1)

Am I eligible for a peace order?

Peace orders are meant to protect people who do not qualify for a domestic violence protective order.  If you are eligible to file for a domestic violence protective order, you are not eligible for a peace order.1  (To see if you would qualify for domestic violence protective order, go to Who can get a protective order?)

Here are a few examples of relationships that may qualify you for a peace order:

  • a boyfriend/ girlfriend who you do not have a child in common with and with whom you do not live;
  • a neighbor;
  • a co-worker;
  • an acquaintance;
  • a stranger;
  • a parent, stepparent, child, or stepchild of you or the abuser with whom you do not currently live and with whom you have not lived for 90 days or more within 1 year before the filing of the petition.2

Note: The abuser must be 18 years or older at the time of the abuse for you to be able to apply for a peace order against him/her.3

1 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1502(b)(1)
2“Peace and Protective Orders” Brochure,” MD Judiciary
3 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1502(b)(2)

After the hearing

If I file for a peace order, do I still have the right to report the incident to the police?

Yes. If you file for a peace order, you are still allowed to pursue other legal options, including going to the police.1

1 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1502(a)

Can I modify, cancel or extend my peace order?

It may be possible to modify (change) or rescind (cancel) a peace order before the order expires by filing in court, giving notice to the person who obtained the order and the abuser, and after holding a hearing.1

In addition, peace orders can be extended for “good cause.” A judge can extend the term of the peace order for 6 months after holding a hearing where both the petitioner and respondent have the right to be present. The judge is supposed to hold a hearing on your motion to extend the order within 30 days after the motion is filed. If the order is set to expire within those 30 days, the judge must extend it until the hearing.1

1 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1506(a)

What is the penalty for violating a peace order?

If the abuser violates a peace order, s/he can be arrested.1 If convicted, s/he could be guilty of a misdemeanor and, for a first offense, can be fined for up to $1,000, or put in prison for up to 90 days, or both. For a second offense (or a third, fourth, etc.), s/he could be guilty of a fine of up to $2,500, put in prison for up to 1 year, or both.2

1 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1508(c)
2 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1508(a)

Extreme Risk Protective Orders

An extreme risk protective order is a civil order that restricts a respondent’s access to guns in certain situations to protect him/her and others.

Basic info

What is an extreme risk protective order?

An extreme risk protective order is a civil court order requiring an individual to:

  • give up his/her firearms and ammunition to law enforcement; and
  • not purchase or possess firearms or ammunition.1

1 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-605(c)(3)

Who can file for an extreme risk protective order?

The person filing for an extreme risk protective order is known as the petitioner. The person who the order is filed against is called the respondent.

You can file for an extreme risk protective order if you are:

1. the respondent’s:

  • spouse;
  • “cohabitant;”
  • relative by blood, marriage, or adoption;
  • co-parent;
  • current dating or intimate partner;
  • current or former legal guardian; or

2. any of the following professionals:

  • a law enforcement officer; or
  • a medical professional who has examined the respondent (this includes a physician, psychologist, clinical social worker, licensed clinical professional counselor, clinical nurse specialist in psychiatric and mental health nursing, psychiatric nurse practitioner, licensed clinical marriage or family therapist, or health officer or designee of a health officer who has examined the individual).1

Note: The law generally defines a cohabitant as a person who is in a relationship and living with the respondent but is not married to the respondent.2

1 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-601(e)
2 See Ricketts v. Ricketts, 903 A.2d 857 (MD 2006)

Who can a judge issue an extreme risk protective order against?

A judge can issue an extreme risk protective order against an individual, also called a respondent.1 The respondent must pose an immediate and present danger of causing injury to himself/herself, you, or others by having firearms.2 The respondent can be an adult or a minor.3

1 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-601(f)
2 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-605(c)
3Maryland Court’s website

What protections can I get in an extreme risk protective order?

In an interim, temporary, or final extreme risk protective order, the District Court commissioner or judge can order that the respondent:

  • give up all firearms and ammunition to law enforcement; and
  • not purchase or possess firearms or ammunition.1

In a temporary or final extreme risk protective order, the judge can also refer the respondent for an emergency evaluation if the judge suspects that the respondent may be suffering from a mental disorder.2 In an interim extreme risk protective order, the commissioner can refer the respondent to law enforcement so that they can decide if the respondent should be taken for an emergency evaluation. The commissioner can make this referral to law enforcement if s/he has probable cause to believe the respondent meets the requirements for an emergency evaluation.3

1 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-603(a)(3)
2 MD Code, Public Safety §§ 5-604(a)(4); 5-605(c)(4)
3 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-603(a)(4)

What types of orders are there? How long do they last?

There are three types of extreme risk protective orders: interim extreme risk protective orders, temporary extreme risk protective order, and final extreme risk protective orders.

Interim extreme risk protective orders: An interim extreme risk protective order can be issued ex parte, which means that the respondent does not have notice of the case beforehand and is not present for the hearing. A District Court commissioner handles hearings for interim extreme risk protective orders, rather than a judge.1

An interim extreme risk protective order will expire:

  • on the date of the hearing for the temporary protective order; or
  • at the end of the second business day that the Office of the District Court Clerk is open.1

Temporary extreme risk protective orders: A judge, rather than a commissioner, must hold a hearing to issue a temporary extreme risk protective order. The hearing can be an ex parte hearing or a hearing where the respondent has received notice.

When deciding whether to issue a temporary extreme risk protective order, the judge will consider the evidence that you present and the amount of time that has passed since the events in your petition took place.2 A temporary extreme risk protective order lasts up to seven days after the respondent is served with the order.3

Final extreme risk protective orders: The judge can issue a final extreme risk protective order after the respondent has received notice of the case and has an opportunity to participate in the hearing. The judge can issue a final extreme risk protective order for a period of up to one year.4

1 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-603(a); (e)
2 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-604(a)(2)
3 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-604(c)(1)
4 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-605(f)(1)

Getting the order

How do I get an extreme risk protective order?

The steps to get an extreme risk protective order are similar to the steps to get a domestic violence restraining order, but you will fill out different forms. In your petition, you should:

  • write any information you know about how the respondent presents an immediate danger of hurting himself/herself, you, or others if s/he has a firearm;
  • describe the respondent’s behaviors and any statements s/he made about hurting himself/herself or others;
  • provide a description of the number, types, and the location of the respondent’s firearms; and
  • include any supporting documents and evidence that you may have regarding:
    • the respondent’s unlawful, reckless, or negligent use, display, storage, possession, or waving (brandishing) of a firearm;
    • the respondent’s act of violence or threat of violence against another person even if the threat does not involve a firearm;
    • any violation of a protective order or a peace order; and
    • any abuse of drugs (controlled substances) or alcohol, including any information about the respondent’s convictions for crimes involving a drugs or alcohol.1

1 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-602(a)(1)

How will a judge make a decision about whether or not to grant the order?

The judge may grant an interim, temporary, or final extreme risk protective if the respondent shows an immediate and present danger of causing personal injury to him/herself, you, or others by having firearms. When deciding whether the respondent is a risk of immediate and present danger, the judge will consider factors such as:

  • alarming behavior and statements;
  • unlawful firearm possession;
  • reckless or negligent firearm use;
  • violence or threats of violence to him/herself or others;
  • violating peace or protective orders;
  • drug and/or alcohol abuse; and/or
  • information contained in health records.1

1 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-602(a)(1); Maryland Courts website, “Extreme Risk Protective Orders”

Can I extend an extreme risk protective order?

You can file a motion to extend an extreme risk protective order while the order is in effect. The judge will schedule a hearing on your motion within 30 days.1 A judge may extend an extreme risk protective order after:

  • notice to the respondent and any other person who would be affected by an extension; and
  • a hearing where the judge finds “good cause” to extend the order.2

If the hearing on your motion to extend the order is scheduled for a date after the order expires, the judge will extend the order until the hearing on your motion.3

1 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-602(a)(3)(i)
2 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-602(a)(2)
3 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-602(a)(3)(ii)

What happens if the respondent violates the order?

Violating an extreme risk protective order is a misdemeanor. For the first offense, the judge could sentence the respondent to:

  • pay a fine of up to $1,000;
  • go to jail for up to 90 days; or
  • both.

For any additional offense of violating an extreme risk protective order, the judge could sentence the respondent to:

  • pay a fine of up to $2,500;
  • go to jail for up to one year; or
  • both.

1 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-610(a)(1)
2 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-610(a)(2)

Moving to Another State with a Protective Order

If you are moving out of state or are going to be out of the state for any reason, your order of protection can still be enforceable.

General rules

Can I get my protective order from Maryland enforced in another state?

Yes.  If you have a valid Maryland protective order that meets federal standards, it can be enforced in another state. The Violence Against Women Act, which is a federal law, states that all valid protective orders granted in the United States receive “full faith and credit” in all state and tribal courts within the U.S., including U.S. territories. See How do I know if my protective order is good under federal law? to find out if your order qualifies.

Each state must enforce out-of-state orders in the same way it enforces its own orders.  If the abuser violates your out-of-state protective order, s/he will be punished according to the laws of whatever state you are in when the order is violated.  This is what is meant by “full faith and credit.”

How do I know if my protective order is good under federal law?

A protective order is good anywhere in the United States as long as:

  • It was issued to prevent violent or threatening acts, harassing behavior, sexual violence, or it was issued to prevent another person from coming near you or contacting you.1
  • The court that issued the order had jurisdiction over the people and case. (In other words, the court had the authority to hear the case.)
  • The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story.
    • In the case of ex parte temporary and emergency orders, the abuser must receive notice and have an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story at a hearing that is scheduled before the temporary order expires.2

Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)
2 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a) & (b)

I have a temporary (ex parte) order. Can it be enforced in another state?

Yes.  An ex parte temporary order can be enforced in other states as long as it meets the requirements listed in How do I know if my protective order is good under federal law?

Note: The state where you are going generally cannot extend your ex parte temporary order or issue you a permanent order when the temporary one expires.  If you need to extend your temporary order, you will have to contact the state that issued the order and arrange to be at the hearing in person or by telephone (if that is an option offered by the court).  However, you may be able to reapply for one in the new state that you are moving to if you meet the requirements for getting a protective order in that state – but, if you apply for one in a new state, the abuser would know what state you are living in, which may put you in danger.

Getting your civil protection order enforced in another state

How do I get my protection order enforced in another state?

Federal law does not require you to take any special steps to get your protection order enforced in another state.

Many states do have laws or regulations (rules) about registering or filing of out-of-state orders, which can make enforcement easier, but a valid protection order is enforceable regardless of whether it has been registered or filed in the new state.1  Rules differ from state to state, so it may be helpful to find out what the rules are in your new state. You can contact a local domestic violence organization for more information by visiting our Advocates and Shelters page and entering your new state in the drop-down menu.

Note: It is important to keep a copy of your PO with you at all times. It is also a good idea to know the rules of states you will be living in or visiting to ensure that your out-of-state order can be enforced in a timely manner.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2)

Do I need anything special to get my protective order enforced in another state?

In some states, you will need a certified copy of your order, which you may want to keep with you at all times. A certified copy shows that it is a true and correct copy; it is signed and initialed by the clerk of court that gave you the order, and usually has some kind of court stamp or seal on it. In Maryland, a certified order is called a “true test” copy and has a stamp on it.

If the copy you originally received is not a certified copy, you can go to the court that gave you the order and ask the clerk’s office for a certified copy. There may be a fee to get a certified (true test) copy of your protective order, but you can ask the clerk to be sure.

Note: It is generally a good idea to keep a copy of the order with you at all times. You may also want to leave copies of the order at your work place, at your home, at the children’s school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on. You may want to give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work along with a photo of the abuser. You may also want to give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.

Can I get someone to help me? Do I need a lawyer?

You do not need a lawyer to get your protective order enforced in another state.  However, you may want to get help from a local domestic violence advocate or attorney in the state that you move to if you want to get help on deciding whether or not to register your order.  To find a domestic violence advocate or an attorney in the state you are moving to, select your state from the Places that Help tab on the top of this page. 

If you are going to be in court without a lawyer, our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section may be useful to you.

Do I need to tell the court in Maryland if I move?

You are not required to tell the court in Maryland if you move - however, if your order contains a visitation or custody provision, remember that you may need the judge’s permission to move out of state.  For advice on whether you need to return to court to get this permission before moving, you may want to talk to a lawyer in Maryland before leaving the state.  Go to our MD Finding a Lawyer page for legal referrals.  In addition, some people choose to give the court a current address so that they can be notified of any legal actions that may be filed regarding the protective order.  If you do notify the court, be sure to clarify with the clerk that your new address must be kept confidential if that is the case.

Enforcing custody provisions in another state

I was granted temporary custody with my protection order. Can I take my kids out of the state?

Maybe.  It might depend on the terms of the custody provision in your protective order, whether or not the abuser was granted visitation/custody rights, etc.  You may have to first seek the permission of the court before leaving.  For legal advice on your particular situation, go to our MD Finding a Lawyer page.  To read more about custody laws in Maryland, go to our MD Custody page.

If you are unsure about whether or not you can take your kids out of the state, it is important to talk to a lawyer who understands domestic violence and custody laws, and can help you make the safest decision for you and your children. 

I was granted temporary custody with my protection order. Will another state enforce this custody order?

Yes. Federal law, which applies to all states, considers custody, visitation, and child support provisions that are included in a protective order to be enforceable across state lines under the theory of “full faith and credit.” Law enforcement and courts in another state are generally required by federal law to enforce these provisions1 assuming they comply with certain federal laws, specifically the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) or the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980.

1 See 18 USC § 2266(5)(b)

Enforcing Your Out-of-State Order in Maryland

If you are planning to move to Maryland or are going to be in Maryland for any reason, your protection or restraining order can be enforced.

General rules for out-of-state orders in Maryland

Can I get my protective order enforced in Maryland? What are the requirements?

Yes.  Your protective order can be enforced in Maryland as long as:

  • It was issued to prevent violent or threatening acts, harassing behavior, sexual violence, or it was issued to prevent another person from coming near you or contacting you.1
  • The court that issued the order had jurisdiction over the people and case. (In other words, the court had the authority to hear the case.)
  • The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story.
    • In the case of ex parte temporary and emergency orders, the abuser must receive notice and have an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story at a hearing that is scheduled before the temporary order expires.2

Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)
2 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a) & (b)

Can I have my out-of-state protective order changed, extended, or canceled in Maryland?

No. Only the state that issued your protection order can change, extend, or cancel the order. You cannot have this done by a court in Maryland.

To have your order changed, extended, or canceled, you will have to file a motion or petition in the court where the order was issued.  You may be able to request that you attend the court hearing by telephone (if that is an option) rather than in person, so that you do not need to return to the state where the abuser is living.  To find out more information about how to modify a restraining order, see the Restraining Orders section for the state where your order was issued.

If your order does expire while you are living in Maryland, you may possibly be able to get a new one issued in Maryland but this may be difficult to do if no new incidents of abuse have occurred in Maryland. To find out more information on how to get a protective order in Maryland, visit our MD Domestic Violence Protective Orders page.

What can I do if I am notified that my Maryland order has changed or is no longer valid?

You will have to contact the court that issued your order to find out why your order has changed or is no longer valid.  The police in Maryland cannot enforce an order that has expired or has been canceled in the issuing state.

If this does happen, you may want to contact a lawyer or domestic violence organization in your area.  They may be able to answer some of your questions, or help you fill out the necessary court forms to petition for a new order in Maryland.  You will find information on legal assistance and domestic violence organizations in Maryland on the MD Places that Help page.

I was granted temporary custody with my out-of-state protective order. Will this be enforced in Maryland?

Federal law, which applies to all states, considers custody, visitation, and child support provisions that are included in a protective order to be enforceable across state lines under the theory of “full faith and credit.”  Law enforcement and courts in another state are generally required by federal law to enforce these provisions1 assuming they comply with certain federal laws, specifically the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) or the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980.

Note: Maryland law states that an order for protection does not include a support or child custody order2 so to be certain that your custody provision from your out-of-state order will be enforced in Maryland, contact a lawyer familiar with custody and restraining orders.  To find a lawyer in your area, go to our MD Finding a Lawyer page.

1 See 18 USC § 2266(5)(b)
2 MD Code, Family Law, § 4-508.1(a)(2)

Registering your Out-of-State Order in Maryland

How do I register my protective order in Maryland?

Although registering an order is not required for the order to be enforced, the Maryland courts website has a form available for registering a foreign protection order here.  For advice on whether or not to register the order, you may want to talk to an attorney.  Go to our MD Finding a Lawyer page for referrals. 

What is the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Registry? Who has access to it?

The National Crime Information Center Registry (NCIC) is a nationwide, electronic database that contains protective orders, that is used by law enforcement agencies in the U.S, Canada, and Puerto Rico. It is managed by the FBI and state law enforcement officials. All law enforcement officials have access to it, but the information is encrypted so outsiders cannot access it.1

1 See the FBI website

Do I have to register my protective order in Maryland in order to get it enforced?

Maryland state law gives full protection to an out-of-state protection order as long as it has been filed with the local court or as long as you can show the officer a copy of the order that appears to be valid.1 Maryland does not have a registration process in place, so your order does not have to be entered into the state or federal registry in order to be enforced by a Maryland police officer.2 It is important to know, however, that the protections that are allowed under Maryland state law are the ones that will be enforced.3 For more information, you may want to get advice from an attorney who is familiar with foreign protection orders. You can find legal referrals on our MD Finding a Lawyer page.

1 MD Code, Family Law § 4-508.1(b), (c)
2 MD Code, Family Law § 4-508.1(c)
3 MD Code, Family Law § 4-508.1(b)

Will the abuser be notified if I register my protective order?

Under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which applies to all U.S. states and territories, the court is not permitted to notify the abuser when a protective order has been registered or filed in a new state unless you specifically request that the abuser be notified.1  However, you may wish to confirm that the clerk is aware of this law before registering the order if your address is confidential.

However, remember that there may be a possibility that the abuser could somehow find out what state you have moved to.  It is important to continue to safety plan, even if you are no longer in the state where the abuser is living.  We have some safety planning tips to get you started on our Safety Tips page.  You can also contact a local domestic violence organization to get help in developing a personalized safety plan.  You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our MD Advocates and Shelters page.

1 18 USC § 2265(d)

Does it cost anything to register my protective order?

Under federal law, which applies to all states, U.S. states and territories that receive certain federal funding cannot charge you a fee to register, obtain or serve a protection order that is related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.1 All 50 states, U.S. territories, and some tribes receive this funding. If you believe you are wrongly being charged a fee, you can contact the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit at 800-903-0111, ext. 2 for assistance.

1 34 U.S.C. §§ 10450(a); 10461(c)(1); see also MD ST § 7-202(II)(C), (III)(B)(1)(G)