Is There a Difference Between Peace Orders and Protection Orders in Maryland?

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People who fear an imminent attack from an abusive partner or a sinister stalker don’t care much about the difference between peace orders and protection orders in Maryland. However, these are distinct orders with different procedures and potential consequences for both parties.

If you are unaware of the difference between peace orders and protective orders in Maryland an experienced Baltimore restraining and protective order lawyer can help you.

What is the Main Purpose of Protection Orders in Maryland?

Protection orders, officially called protective orders or domestic violence protective orders, are intended to shield certain categories of people who allege domestic violence.  This is the most important difference between peace orders and protective orders in Maryland. Peace orders can be taken out against people like neighbors or even strangers who harass you online.

The application process for both orders is similar. You can face more potentially-serious consequences under a protective order than a peace order.

Who can Obtain a Protective Order in Maryland?

Protective orders help victims of domestic violence. The party who applies for the order must be in one of the following relationships with the person he or she accuses of abusive behavior.

  • Current or former spouses;
  • People who lived together for at least 90 days in the preceding 12 months;
  • People related by blood, marriage, and adoption. In other words, family members.
  • At-risk adults in a caretaker-type relationship
  • Parents who have a child or children together;
  • People who were in a sexual relationship within one year before the filing of the petition for a domestic violence protection order.
  • A parent, child, or stepchild.

You must be in one of these relationships to obtain a protection order. Although a domestic relationship will not guarantee the issuing of an order, a judge will often err on the side of caution and issue an interim protection order. The interim or temporary order lasts for just 7 days. However, a judge can extend it to a month in some cases.

A hearing for a final protective order usually takes place a week after the issuing of the interim order. The final order is typically good for a year, but may last longer or even permanent in rare circumstances.

Who Can Obtain a Peace Order in Maryland?

The short answer is anyone who is a victim of abuse but is not eligible for a protection order can obtain a peace order in Maryland. You can’t apply for both a peace order and a protective order.

People who are in dating relationships that fall short of forming the kind of relationships needed to obtain a protective order, often seek peace orders. For example, a woman may have met a man on an online dating site. They go on two dates but their relationship does not become intimate. However, the man starts stalking the woman, harassing her via text and threatening violence.

Peace orders can also be taken out against people who started off being friends or acquaintances, neighbors or even complete strangers.

Although there are many similarities in how protection orders and peace orders are obtained in Maryland there are also procedural differences.

What are the Differences In Obtaining Protection Orders and Peace Orders in Maryland?

District and circuit courts in Maryland have jurisdiction over protective orders. Peace orders may only be obtained in the district court.

A protective order can be obtained at any time after a violent act or a threat of violence. A peace order must be sought within 30 days of the alleged act. A petitioner seeking a peace order must show the act occurred and is likely to do so again. It’s often more difficult to obtain a peace order than a protection order.  The courts require a filing fee and a service fee for a peace order. This is not a requirement for a protective order.

What Do You Need to Show to Get a Peace Order or a Protective Order in Maryland?

Both peace orders and protective orders can be granted when the judge finds reasonable grounds to believe that the subject of the order has abused a person. The abuse can be an act that causes serious bodily harm or actions that lead the petitioner to believe the alleged abuser will cause serious bodily harm. This can be a threat of harm. Rape or another sexual assault, assault, and false imprisonment are all grounds for the issuing of an order.

These forms of abuse are common requirements for both peace and protection orders. However, a peace order can also be sought for the malicious destruction of property, and trespassing in Maryland. Recently added provisions allow a peace order to be taken out for online offenses like misuse of electronic communications and revenge porn, which is the publishing of intimate pictures of a former partner or someone else online.

Do Peace Orders and Protection Orders Carry the Same Powers in Maryland?

The provisions or an order depend on what a judge considers appropriate. However, a protective order can be wider in its scope. Under both orders, the alleged aggressor is likely to be ordered to stop threatening or abusive behavior. The subject of a peace order and a protective order can be instructed to cut off all contact with the petitioner who seeks the order.

The alleged abuser may be ordered to stay away from the petitioner’s home, school, or place of work under both orders.

However, the subject of a protective order can be instructed to leave a shared home. Interim custody decisions relating to children can be made under a protective order, particularly when child abuse is an issue in the case.

Under a final peace order, the alleged abuser may be ordered to undergo counseling and to pay filing and court fees. Final protective orders often go much further. Decisions can be made on child custody and temporary visitation, the ownership of shared vehicles and even possession of shared pets.

Is There a Difference in Duration Between Protective Orders in Maryland and Peace Orders?

Final protective orders usually last a year with an option to extend them for a further six months. Peace orders typically last six months with an option for another six-month extension. A judge can grant a permanent protective order but this measure is rare.

Can You Rescind or Withdraw a Peace Order or a Protection Order in Maryland?

If the judge refuses to grant a peace order or a protection order at a hearing, you can request the judge rescinds the order. The order will be withdrawn before it expires.

Can You Appeal a Protection Order or a Peace Order in Maryland?

If you are unsuccessful in winning your case before a judge, you can appeal your case within 30 years. The case will be heard in the circuit court. It’s treated as a new hearing which means the judge will not be bound by the original decision.

Can You Hide Records of Protection Orders or Peace Orders in Maryland?

Protective orders and peace orders may not be criminal convictions but a record stating you harassed a partner, took part in revenge porn, or behaved violently, looks bad to any potential employer. Often these claims will also come before the criminal courts but on occasions, they will not go beyond a civil order. You can request “shielding” of information. This is the purging of the order from the Maryland Judiciary Case search. Shielding also removes the court file from public inspection.  You will not usually be able to shield information off you unsuccessfully contest it.

Talk to a Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyer about Peace Orders and Protection Orders

Peace and protective orders are serious matters. If you receive an order of this nature, your life will likely be turned upside down. You will be branded an abuser and your home and family life and career prospects often suffer. These orders are not always backed up by facts. It’s important to act fast and get an attorney on your side who can fight the order and help you make your case in front of a judge. Talk to our Baltimore criminal defense attorneys today at 410-834-3845.


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