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Published on 7/25/2022, 3:31:00 PM


Peace order vs Protective Order / Restraining order in Maryland

If you're wondering what the difference between a Peace Order and a Protective Order is in Maryland, you've reached the right place. Each of these orders is a civil order, issued by Maryland's District Court.

Read more to find out if you qualify to ask for an order, or how to respond if you've been served with an order.

Difference between Peace order and Protective Orders

Maryland has two different types of civil stay away or restraining orders, known as:

Domestic Violence Protective Orders, and Peace Orders

Each of these orders has different requirements, and different qualifications. This article will discuss their differences, and explain the processes by which a person can seek one. It will also address how to respond if you are served with a protective order or peace order, and what to expect at a protective order hearing or peace order hearing.

What is a protective order in Maryland?

A protective order in Maryland is a no contact order that can be sought by a person who alleges a domestic violence incident against a spouse or member of their family. These orders typically last one year, and can grant temporary custody of children, temporary possession of a marital home, and other relief.

These orders can be sought 24/7 at a commissioner's office, and can be filed with the petitioner's information under seal.

Who can get a protective Order?

Generally, for a person to seek a protective order against another, they must be:

  • Married, divorced or recently separated

  • A family member of the other party (related by blood, marriage, or adoption)

  • A recent sexual partner of the other party (of at least 90 days in the past year)

  • Parents of a child in common

  • Have been raped or sexually assaulted by the other person in the last six months

What has to happen for me to seek a Protective Order?

Maryland law outlines several basis for a protective order. Below is an exhaustive list of reasons for a person to seek a protective order, also called "abuse":

The specific statutory authority for filing a peace order is contained in Maryland Code, Family Law Section 4-501.

These acts have definitions in Maryland's criminal statutes. It is important to have a lawyer review a protective order filed against you alleging one of these acts, as they are often misunderstood and misapplied by petitioners for a protective order.

Who issues protective Orders?

Protective Orders are issued by Maryland District Court Judges during Court hours. If an order is sought outside of Court hours, a Maryland Commissioner can issue an interim protective order.

Stages of a Protective Order

Protective orders in Maryland all follow the same stages. If you've been served with a protective order, or a hearing notice, be sure to look at what type of hearing is scheduled. Some of these hearings can go forward without the respondent present.

1. Interim protective order

An interim protective order hearing is typically ex-parte, meaning that one party meets with a Judge or commissioner and has their application reviewed.

If granted an interim protective order, it becomes effective once it is served upon the other party. Typically a hearing is set in within the end of the second business day after issuance, as the temporary protective order does not last past that.

2. Temporary protective order

A temporary protective order is a hearing where a judicial officer ascertains whether there is a basis for issuing an order, and to ensure that the petitioner still wants to seek an order.

The respondent does not usually present any evidence, and the Judge will often ask the petitioner questions to figure out if the order can be set for a final hearing. The final hearing will be set within 7 days of the temporary hearing, as temporary protective orders only last seven days.

3. Final protective order

The final protective order hearing is an evidentiary hearing, and it is the last hearing scheduled in a protective order. At a final protective order, the respondent may request a hearing.

At that hearing, the petitioner must produce evidence sufficient to convince the Court to a preponderance of the evidence that an act of abuse occurred. Typically this evidence includes:

  1. Testimony
  2. Photographs
  3. Videos
  4. Witnesses

A respondent may be represented by an attorney at a final protective order hearing.

How Long does a protective order last?

A protective order will last up to one year. If the parties consent, the time for an order can be shortened.

Can I win a protective order hearing?

If you are the petitioner, "winning" is typically defined by if the order is issued or not.

If you are the respondent, it is possible, through cross examination during a hearing, to overcome the petitioner's request for a protective order.

In that situation, an order is not issued and the petition is dismissed.

What can a protective order include? What are common terms?

A Judge can order:

  1. No contact

  2. Stay away from your home, school, job, or residence

  3. Order the abuser to vacate the home

  4. Award temporary custody to the petitioner

  5. Order the abuser to surrender firearms

  6. Other relief, specific to the petition.

Violation of Protective order

If a person has a protective order issued against them, violation of that order is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to ninety (90) days in jail, and/or a $1,000 fine.

Protective orders can bar contact both in person, and electronically. Additionally, they often involve vacating a marital home, and can cover temporary custody of children.

What is a peace order in Maryland?

Maryland peace orders are civil stay away orders issued by District Courts on the request of a petitioner.

Peace orders can be sought for a variety of reasons, and are typically requested after two or more parties get into an argument.

Peace Orders aren't criminal charges; however, they do require appearance in Court. Peace Orders are searchable public records, so it's important to hire an attorney to defend your rights in Court.

Peace Orders are different than protective orders as they have a shorter duration, cannot be sought by family members or sexual partners, and have a maximum length of six months.

Restraining order vs Peace Order Maryland

Maryland does not issue "restraining orders". Instead, Maryland has a civil stay away system in which a petitioner can seek a "peace order". Peace orders are issued by Maryland District Court Judges, and have a maximum term of six months.

Peace Orders can be sought by anyone, there is no requirement that the parties know each other intimately. These orders are typically brought by a person who wants to be left alone and has experienced some form of assault or harassment.

Who can get a peace order?

Any Maryland resident can seek a peace order, but first it must be established that they do not qualify for a protective order.

Practically, this means that the petitioner, or person seeking the order, must not be a family member or past/present sexual partner of the respondent, or person they are seeking the order against.

Employers can file peace orders on behalf of an employee, but only for events that occur within the workplace. If an employer is seeking a peace order on behalf of an employee, the employee has the right not to go forward with the peace order.

What has to happen for me to seek a peace order?

To seek a peace order, a Maryland resident must file a petition at a District Court Commissioner's Office stating that another person committed one of the following acts:

(i) An act that causes serious bodily harm;

(ii) An act that places the petitioner in fear of imminent serious bodily harm;

(iii) Assault in any degree;

(iv) False imprisonment;

(v) Harassment under Section 3-803 of the Criminal Law Article ;

(vi) Stalking under Section 3-802 of the Criminal Law Article ;

(vii) Trespass under Title 6, Subtitle 4 of the Criminal Law Article;

(viii) Malicious destruction of property under Section 6-301 of the Criminal Law Article ;

(ix) Misuse of telephone facilities and equipment under Section 3-804 of the Criminal Law Article ;

(x) Misuse of electronic communication or interactive computer service under
section 3-805 of the Criminal Law Article ;

(xi) Revenge porn under Section 3-809 of the Criminal Law Article ; or

(xii) Visual surveillance under Section 3-901 , Section 3-902 , or Section 3-903 of the Criminal Law Article .

The specific statutory authority for filing a peace order is contained in Maryland Code, Courts and Judicial Proceedings Section 3-1503.

Who issues peace orders?

Peace orders are issued by Maryland Commissioners at the interim stage if a Courthouse is closed, and Maryland District Court Judges at the interim stage if Courthouses are open. Maryland District Court judges always make the decision on awarding peace orders at the temporary and final stages.

Stages of a Peace Order

Each Maryland Peace order generally follows the same few stages:

Interim Peace order hearing

The interim peace order is typically very short, and only lasts two days. Interim peace orders are issued by a Maryland Commissioner's office if done after hours, or a Maryland District Court Judge if done during normal court hours.

Temporary Peace Order hearing

Once a person is granted an interim peace order, they are given a temporary peace order hearing where they must appear. At a temporary peace order a Judge will review a petitioner's petition for peace order, and ascertain if they'd still like the order, and can meet the threshold for filing a peace order outlined above.

If a petitioner decides they'd like to continue with the process, a final peace order hearing is scheduled.

Final Peace Order hearing

A final peace order hearing is scheduled within a week of your temporary peace order hearing. The other party must be served for the hearing to go forward, which can cause a person to have multiple Court dates on their final peace order.

At the final peace order hearing, a respondent (or the subject of the order) may request a hearing and conduct a cross examination of the petitioner. Either or both parties can be represented by counsel.

If a final peace order is granted, they typically prevent contact for up to six months after the hearing.

I was served with a peace order, what do I do?

If you were served with a peace order, it's imperative that you contact a lawyer. The attorneys with FrizWoods have handled countless contested peace order hearings, and can help you avoid having an order granted against you.

Where to find a peace order lawyer

jt3If you're looking for a peace order attorney, a great place to start would be online. Many lawyers will list their experience with peace orders, and they should be familiar with the Court process outlined above.

Finding a peace order attorney may be difficult, because the hearings are often set in quickly. You may have to call several firms to find an available and qualified attorney.

Peace Order Violation, or Criminal charges from a peace orders

Violating a peace order is a criminal offense which carries a maximum penalty of up to ninety days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. This misdemeanor charge could have serious consequences, so contact a qualified Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney if you are charged with violation of a peace order.