What is a Peace Order in Maryland?

Maryland, like other states, offers a layer of protection for individuals experiencing abuse from specific individuals, including colleagues and strangers. These are called Peace Orders, also called restraining orders in many other states, and are approved by the court. They require an individual to stay away and refrain from contacting you in any way. 

If you are experiencing abuse from an individual, like a neighbor, co-worker, or stranger, you may petition for a Peace Order. Our experienced Peace Order lawyers in Maryland are here to help you navigate the complexities—you don’t have to do it alone. 

Who Can Get a Peace Order?

Peace Orders apply to all relationships outside of family-like or sexual relationships. These individuals may include a neighbor, stranger, colleague, or someone with whom you have a non-sexual dating relationship. If the relationship is family-like or sexual, including sexual assault, a Protective Order applies. 

Petitioning for a Peace Order

The first step in getting a Peace Order is petitioning for one. You must complete Maryland’s Petition for Peace Order, a Peace Order Addendum, and a Peace Order Supplement. These forms are available online and at your local commissioner’s office or court clerk. 

If the courts are open, you’ll file your petition with the clerk in a District Court, not a Circuit Court. You must file your petition here if they are open. If the courts are closed, you can file your order with a District Court Commissioner’s office, which is open 24 hours a day. 

What Happens After Filing a Peace Order

After you file a Peace Order, a few things can happen. If you filed your petition with the commissioner, you’ll have an immediate interim hearing to share your side of the events and behaviors that you believe constitute a peace order. The commissioner will determine whether the relationship qualifies, and if so, they’ll issue an Interim Protective Order. 

This order only lasts approximately two days, so after that, you’ll need to attend a temporary hearing in court. You’ll find the date and time for this hearing on your interim protective order papers. During the temporary hearing, you’ll retell the occurrences to the judge. 

If you were able to file with the court initially, this will be your first hearing. After the hearing, the judge will determine whether the relationship and abuse qualify. If they do, you’ll receive a Temporary Peace Order that lasts for seven days. The courts may choose to extend this order. 

The final hearing will require the presence of both you and the respondent. If the respondent contests the order, you can offer testimony and evidence during this hearing. 

What If I’m Served With a Peace Order?

If you are served with a Peace Order, you are identified on it as the Respondent. This order doesn’t entail an arrest or being charged with a crime. Instead, it limits your contact with the petitioner, the person who requested the Peace Order. 

Read through the order to determine how much contact, if any, it allows you to have with the petitioner. This includes both in-person contact and communication via social media, telephone, text, and any other form. As you read through the order, you’ll find a hearing date. You’ll be asked whether you consent to or contest the order during this hearing. 

If you consent or accept, there won’t be a trial with evidence or testimony. You may request to keep the records private after the peace order ends. 

How to Fight a Peace Order in Maryland

If you’re served with a Peace Order and don’t consent to it in the hearing, you’ll go through a trial process with the petitioner. When you challenge the order, you and the other party will be placed under oath and called to tell your version of the events. 

Both parties can call witnesses and present evidence, and when complete, the judge will decide whether to grant or deny the order. 

During this process, it’s wise to have help from a skilled Peace Order lawyer. Your lawyer can offer legal advice based on your situation and help you make informed decisions about whether to consent or contest the order. Through the process, they’ll advocate for your best interests, showcasing evidence and arguments in your favor. 

You are expected to know the law and follow court rules during the trial, so their expertise proves essential. It’s important to note that these orders aren’t criminal cases, so you’re not entitled to a public defender. 

Need Help With Your Peace Order?

If you are considering filing for a Maryland Peace Order, our knowledgeable Peace Order attorneys are here to help. You don’t have to navigate the complexities of the process alone. We will guide you through each step and offer the best legal advice based on your situation to help you make informed decisions. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is a Peace Order the Same as a Protective Order?

While a Protective Order serves the same purpose as a Peace Order, it applies to different relationships. Protective Orders apply to family-like and sexual relationships, whereas Peace Orders apply to all other relationships. For instance, a Protective Order could apply to your spouse, while a Peace Order might apply to your neighbor. 

Can I Extend My Peace Order?

Yes, it is possible to extend your Peace Order. You can petition the courts to extend your Peace Order, provided it hasn’t yet expired. During this process, the clerk will notify the respondent about a hearing, and you will petition to extend the order. Specific rules apply to the process, so it’s important to consult your lawyer. 

What Happens if the Person Doesn’t Follow the Peace Order?

Those served with Peace Orders must abide by the conditions set in them. Violating a Peace Order is a crime. If the individual you have a Peace Order against fails to comply with the conditions, you can file charges with your local commissioner’s office or call the police. 

If they are found guilty of violating the Peace Order, they may face arrest, criminal prosecution, imprisonment, or fines

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