Although we typically think of a court decision as final, this isn’t always true. In the U.S. court system, those found guilty of criminal charges and liable for civil ones have the right to appeal decisions to different courts.
Doing so gives you the chance to present your case again, perhaps incorporating new evidence or using a different defense.
In short, the answer to the question, “can you appeal a protective order in Maryland?” is “yes.” But there’s more you should know about this entire process to properly understand when and where an appeal is appropriate.
Here’s everything you need to know about appealing protective orders in Maryland.
What is a Protective Order?
A protective order is a court mandate that provides an individual with legal protection against another person.
If someone has filed for a protective order against you, it means they are trying to make it illegal for you to contact them in any way.
However, protective orders only apply to certain types of relationships. Specifically, one can only file for a protective order against someone with whom they are:
- Married, divorced, or currently separated
- Related by blood, marriage, or adoption
- Living with or in a sexual relationship for more than 90 days
- Parents of a child
Other types of relationships also apply, such as if one party was raped or sexually assaulted by the other.
Also, to successfully file for a protective order, the petitioner must prove that there was an act of abuse. This includes but is not limited to assault, legitimate threats of harm, stalking, rape or sexual offense, revenge porn and more.
Similar to a protective order, a peace order involves the same court mandate but applies to other types of relationships.
What Happens if Someone Files a Protective Order Against You?
If someone files for a protective order against you, the first thing you must do is stop all contact with them immediately. This mandate goes into effect until the petition is resolved.
It gets resolved in either one of two ways.
- You consent to the order. In other words, you acknowledge it and accept it without a hearing.
- Contest the petition, which you can do at your hearing in court. There, you will be given the chance to prove that the act of abuse did not happen and that a protective order is not necessary.
Failing to appear for your court hearing implies consenting to it, so make sure to attend on the date specified by the court.
How Long Does a Protective Order Last?
Once the protective order petition is approved by the court, it will go into effect for a period of time that generally does not exceed one year. However, if you consent to the petition from the beginning, it’s possible for the order to be set for two years.
After the first year is up, the petitioner has the right to ask the courts to extend it for up to another year. Or they can also pursue a permanent protective order, which would last, as the name suggests, forever.
For this to happen, special conditions apply and the petitioner must provide a preponderance of evidence to justify the court’s intervention.
What Happens if You Violate a Protective Order in Maryland?
Protective orders are issued by the court and therefore must be taken seriously. The exact stipulations of your order will depend on the nature of your case, but it will most certainly include restrictions against contacting the petitioner.
If you go against any of the requirements of the order, then you have committed a crime. When reported, you could face fines of up to $500 and/or a jail sentence of up to 90 days.
Can You Appeal a Protective Order in Maryland?
In Maryland, if the court grants a protective order against you but you think this judgement is incorrect, you have the right to appeal.
For protective orders filed in a District Court, you can appeal to the Circuit Court in your country. Orders issued by the Circuit Court must be appealed to the Court of Special Appeals.
In general, you have 30 days from the date of the first decision to file for your appeal in the appropriate court.
From there, your case will be heard de novo, which means “again,” or “as new.” This means you will have the chance to present your case as if you were doing it for the first time, and this new decision can override the first one.
However, if you decide to appeal, know that the protective order remains in effect while you wait for a decision. Violating it during this period is likely to have a significant impact on your case to have the decision reversed.
What to Do if Someone Files a Protective Order Against You
The first thing you should do is contact an experienced lawyer to help you. Since a protective order is technically a civil charge, you are not entitled to a public defender and therefore must provide for your own defense.
Your lawyer will help you decide if it’s best to consent to or contest the petition, and they will also help you navigate the appeals process.
If you’ve already had a protective order finalized against you, and it’s expired, it’s possible to get it shielded from your record, though special circumstances apply.
In any case, a good defense is essential if you’re facing a protective order petition. Get in touch today so that we can help you prepare your defense and work through this difficult time.