Domestic Violence

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 - even a family member. Getting help is the first step toward a safe future. This section gives you information on special rights and resources available for 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 an 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:
  1. Make application with a District Court Commissioner to file criminal charges
  2. Request that the State's Attorney file a criminal charge
A victim of domestic violence may receive, upon request and without cost, a copy of the incident report from the law enforcement agency that responded to the call.

A domestic violence victim may also request a "domestic stand-by" from an officer to ensure that she is safe while removing personal items to meet her emergency needs or those of any children in her care.

Other Legal Remedies


In addition to arrest and criminal charges, victims of domestic violence who are married, have lived together for 90 days in the past year, or have a child in common, can apply for a "Civil Protective Order." This is a court order instructing the abuser to stop the abuse, leave the joint residence, stay away from your work, or other remedies ordered by the court. A person may apply for a Protective Order at the District or Circuit Court. This order may be for the victim or on behalf of a family member, such as a child.

Services Available


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 legal service a link is listed at the end of this page to help you understand how it has affected your life, and how to get the support and advocacy you need to live in safety again.