Understanding Peace Orders in Maryland
A peace order is a legal tool used by the court to prohibit an individual from engaging in certain behaviors. When a person files a peace order they are known as the petitioner, and whom you are filing against are known as the respondent.
The purpose of a peace order is to provide individuals with a legal tool to protect themselves from harassment or harm. By filing for a peace order, the petitioner can ask the court to order the respondent to stay away from them, stop contacting them, or refrain from engaging in certain behaviors that could cause harm.
Peace Orders vs Protective Orders: What is the Difference
In Maryland, a peace order and a protective order are similar in that they are both issued by a court to protect a person from harm or abuse. They differ, however, in terms of the relationship between the parties involved and the types of acts they cover. A protective order is typically sought by a person who has a specific relationship with the respondent, such as a spouse, cohabitant, or parent of a child. They cover acts of domestic violence, which include abuse or the threat of abuse. A peace order, on the other hand, can be sought by any person who is the victim of certain types of harmful or threatening conduct, regardless of their relationship with the respondent. It covers acts such as harassment, stalking, or trespassing.
Types of Peace Orders in Maryland:
- Interim peace orders: These are temporary peace orders that can be issued by a commissioner or a judge in certain circumstances, such as when the court is closed. They are only valid for up to two days and are intended to provide temporary protection until a temporary or final peace order can be obtained.
- Temporary peace orders: These are issued by a judge after a hearing in which the petitioner presents evidence that they need protection from the respondent. Temporary peace orders can be valid for up to seven days, and they require a hearing to be scheduled within that time frame to determine if a final peace order is necessary.
- Final peace orders: These are the most long-lasting peace orders, and they can be issued by a judge after a hearing where both the petitioner and respondent present evidence. Final peace orders can be valid for up to six months, but they can be extended if the petitioner can demonstrate that they still need protection.
How to Know If You’re Eligible for a Peace Order
If you are experiencing harassment or abuse, a peace order may be an option for you. To be eligible, the petitioner must be able to provide sufficient evidence to show that they have been the victim of one of these acts and that they have a reasonable fear of future harm. Here’s what you need to know:
Who Can Request a Peace Order?
A peace order can be requested by any person who is experiencing harassment, or abuse, or who is in fear of harm. This can include family members, roommates, neighbors, and even co-workers. In order to request a peace order, the server will need to provide the necessary information regarding the respondent’s name and address. They will also need to provide specific details about the incidents of harassment or abuse and explain why they are in fear of imminent harm.
What Acts are Listed Under a Peace Order?
- Assault: Any attempt or threat to physically harm someone, including battery.
- Harassment: A pattern of behavior that causes emotional distress, including stalking, cyberstalking, or malicious online activities.
- Trespass: Entering someone’s property without permission.
- Destruction of property: Damaging or destroying another person’s property.
- Repeated unwanted contact: Contacting a person repeatedly, even after being told to stop.
- Any other act that is likely to cause bodily harm or seriously annoys or alarms the person seeking the peace order.
It’s important to understand that the above list is not exhaustive, and the specific acts covered by a peace order can vary based on the different circumstances of each case.
Timeline for Getting a Peace Order
The timeline for getting a peace order can vary, depending on the specific circumstances of your case. The court generally will hold a hearing within a few days of your request. A decision will be made shortly after. If the court grants your request, a temporary peace order will be issued. This will provide immediate protection. In order to receive long-term protection, a final peace order can be issued after a full hearing.
How to Respond to Being Served a Peace Order
When you are served with a peace order in Maryland, it is important to read the order carefully and follow its terms. You must comply with the order’s restrictions and requirements. This includes staying away from the protected person’s home or workplace. You may also be required to stop contacting the protected person or refrain from threatening or harassing them in any way. There are severe consequences if a person violates a peace order. This can include criminal charges, fines, and even imprisonment. Additionally, a violation could affect your future opportunities, such as employment, housing, and education. It is crucial to understand the restrictions of the peace order and comply with its terms to avoid violating it.
The Lifelong Consequences of a Final Peace Order in Maryland:
If the judge determines that there is clear and convincing evidence that the respondent is found guilty of committing this act, they will be granted a final peace order. A final peace order is a public record and remains on the person’s record indefinitely unless a petition to expunge the record is granted by the court. Under Maryland law, a respondent who violates a peace order can be charged with a criminal offense and may face jail time and/or fines.
Final Thoughts: The Importance of Peace Orders
A peace order can be a valuable tool in promoting safety and reducing the risk of harm in situations where individuals are being threatened, harassed, or abused. It is important to understand how to obtain and enforce one in order to protect yourself and those around you.
If you need assistance with obtaining or contesting a peace order, get in touch with our qualified legal team at Albers and Associates to help provide guidance throughout the process.