Shielding Protective Order Records in Maryland
Can I get a protection order “erased” from my record? Why would I need to do that?
You may be able to get the Final Protective Order (FPO) shielded. It simply depends on the circumstances.
The Court may shield the FPO, if the FPO was denied or dismissed OR you consented to the entry of the protective order. In that case you may file a request with the Court to have all related records be shielded from public inspection. Similarly, if the Petition was dismissed at the Petitioner’s request at any stage of the process – interim, temporary, or final, you are eligible to request that the records be shielded.
If you did not consent to the entry of the FPO and the Judge entered a Final Protective Order, making a finding that you committed an act of abuse, you are not eligible to have the records shielded – which could have a negative impact upon future employment and relationships.
If your request to shield is filed less than three (3) years after the denial/dismissal of the protective order, you will need to file a general waiver and release of all tort claims related to the protective order proceeding. It is required by statute that the Court hold a hearing to determine if the records should be shielded and shall give notice to both parties. This is a one page fill-in-the-blank document that you can get from the Clerk’s Office or on-line. The family law attorneys at MLO/Mulinazzi Law Office have extensive experience working on domestic violence cases and we can assist you to shield the FPO as a stand alone case or as part of your divorce case.
Contact MLO the current and 4-time Best Family Law Office in Howard County, Baltimore Magazine.
What does the Court consider when making the decision to shield or not shield a FPO?
The Court may shield all records related to the proceeding if the Court finds:
- The Petition for Protection was denied or dismissed at the interim, temporary, or final stage.
- There has not been a Final Protective Order or Peace Order issued against the Respondent in case involving the same parties.
- The Respondent has not been found guilty of a crime arising from abuse against the Petitioner.
- That no interim or temporary protective orders or peace orders are currently pending against the Respondent in a case involving the same parties.
- That no criminal charges are pending against the Respondent arising from the alleged abuse against the Petitioner (victim).
- Does the victim object and on what grounds?
- What are the privacy concerns involved versus what is the potential danger of future harm?
It is very important how to draft your Motion to Shield the Protective Order to address the factors above and other equitable factors.
What does it mean to “consent” to a Protective Order?
It is your right to consent to a FPO. The Petitioner cannot stop you from doing it and if you do it there will not be hearing at all. In evaluating whether to consent to or contest a protective order filed against you, it is important to keep in mind that if you consent to a protective order there is no finding of abuse against you. By consenting, you are not admitting any of the allegations and there will not be a hearing and no evidence of alleged abuse will be provided. But if you consent to a FPO you are agreeing to what was requested so you cannot contact the Petitioner, you must stay away from their residence any other specified locations. Although consenting to the entry of the protective order delays when a shielding can be requested, it ensures that the option to shield the FPO is still available to you later in time. Once the Judge has made a finding of abuse against you, you will not be able to have the records shielded from public record. It is strongly advised that you consult one of the Maryland Super Lawyers at MLO/Mulinazzi Law Office about the advantages and disadvantages of consenting to a FPO – in certain situations it can be a great option
Can the Court Rescind a Protective Order?
This is rare but it can happen. The attorneys at MLO/Mulinazzi Law Office have experience doing this and experience in defending against this. We knew that the Judges are looking for and how to present the relevant evidence and information to the Court. Call 410-290-6270 to find out how we can assist you with in these situations.
The Court may rescind a Final Protective Order during the protective period (usually one year). To do this one party must file a written request, send notice to all parties, and then the Court is required to hold a hearing. The Court will want to ensure that the victim is not being forced, threatened, or coerced into asking for the FPO to be rescinded. Likewise, the Judge will want to know that the victim feels safe and that they realize that removing the FPO removes the stay away provisions and removes the Court’s ability to enforce protection. A Judge is not required to rescind the protective order and will deny the request if they have continued concerns about the safety of the Petitioner. It is helpful to present evidence to the Court that the Respondent no longer presents a danger to the Petitioner, such as: successful completion of an abuser intervention program, alcohol/substance abuse treatment, and/or mental health treatment. It also helps immensely if the Respondent demonstrates regret and remorse.
Rescinding a FPO is difficult but getting it removed from the public record can remove a lot of obstacles to future employment and social or professional relationships. There are a lot of factors for the Court to consider and MLO’s Super Lawyer Attorneys can help you make your best case to the Court.