When a loved one hurts you, it can be embarrassing, confusing, and sometimes life-threatening. No one has the right to hurt you or your children - not even a family member. Getting help is the first step toward a safe future. This section gives you information about special rights and resources available to victims of domestic violence and/or stalking.
Special Rights Available to Victims
In Maryland, the police may make an arrest for an incident of domestic violence without witnessing the assault if they have "probable cause" to believe that assault took place. Officers must make an arrest if an offender is in violation of the "stay away" or "don't abuse" provision of a Civil Protective Order.
If an arrest is not made at the scene, a domestic violence victim may:
- Make application with a District Court Commissioner to file criminal charges or
- Request that the State's Attorney file a criminal charge.
Some jurisdictions may charge a nominal fee for the incident report.
A victim of domestic violence may receive, upon request, a copy of the incident report from the law enforcement agency that responded to the call.
A domestic violence victim my also request a "domestic stand-by" from an officer to ensure that she is safe while removing personal items to meet her emergency needs, along with the emerging needs of any children in her care.
Other Legal Remedies
In addition to filing criminal charges, against their abuser, victims of domestic violence can also apply for a Civil Protective Order if they:
Also, a person who is a parent or child of the victim can apply as well, if they have lived with the victim or the abuser for 90 days in the past year. The Protective Order is a court order instructing the abuser to stop the abuse, leave the joint residence, stay away from the victim's work, or other remedies ordered by the court. A person may apply for the victim or on behalf of a family member, such as a child or vulnerable adult.
- Are or were married to the abuser.
- Live/have lived with the abuser for 90 days or more within the past year.
- Have a child together with the abuser.
- Are related to the abuser.
Protection from Stalking
Maryland offers special protection for victims of stalking. Stalking is malicious conduct, and includes persistently approaching or pursuing another person with the intent to place them in fear of injury or death.
If you think you are a victim of stalking, tell the police when they make an arrest, and/or immediately file an application with the Court Commissioner.
How to File Charges
- Report the incident to the police.
- Obtain the report number from the officer.
- See the District Court Commissioner to file criminal charges against the offender. A warrant for his/her arrest or a summons to appear in court may be issued. A commissioner is on duty 24 hours at the Montgomery County Police Rockville District Station, 240-314-8910.
- If the commissioner declines to charge the offender, you can request that the State's Attorney file a criminal-charging document against the offender.
Petition for Protection from Domestic Violence (Exparte Order)
- An Exparte Order, which is a civil emergency petition, can:
- Temporarily remove the offender from the home.
- Order the offender to stop the abuse.
- Give temporary custody of children.
- Order counseling.
To file a petition, appear before the Civil Clerk Monday through Friday before 3:30pm at any one of these locations:
- Circuit Court for Montgomery County - Family Division Services
- 50 Courthouse Square
- Rockville, MD 20850
- District Court of Maryland
- 27 Courthouse Square
- Rockville, MD 20850
- 301- 279-1500
- Domestic violence advocates are available from 9am to 3pm Monday through Friday in the District Court in Rockville.
- District Court of Maryland
- 8665 Georgia Ave.
- Silver Spring, MD 20910
This petition will be heard by a judge that day and served by the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department (240-777-7000).
Violation of an Exparte Order is a crime.
Domestic violence is a complex crime that usually becomes more frequent and more severe without outside help. If you have been harmed by an intimate partner, it is important that you contact a local domestic violence program or legal service to get the support and advocacy you need to live in safety again.
Abused Persons Program
1301 Piccard Drive 1st Floor, Suite #1400
Rockville, MD 20850
Crisis Line: 240-777-4000
The Abused Persons Program provides crisis and ongoing counseling, shelter, support and advocacy services to victims of partner-related domestic abuse and their families.
Specific Services Included:
- 24 hour telephone and walk-in crisis counseling, information and referral.
- 24 hour accessible shelter for victims of domestic abuse and their dependent children.
- Transitional Housing.
- Individual counseling, education and support groups for victims and abusers.
- Psychiatric evaluation, treatment and consultation.
- Case management services to coordinate human service needs.
- Victim Assistance with the legal system and other County agencies.
- Educational programs on issues of domestic violence for professionals and community groups.
Shelter Services: Fees are charged on a sliding scale.
Transitional Housing Services: A nominal rental fee is charged.
Ongoing counseling for victims: Fees are charged on a sliding scale.
No one is denied service due to lack of funds.