In situations of violence or disputes in Maryland, an individual can seek legal protection through protective or peace orders. Both provide legal protection to those who feel threatened or unsafe, but the two have key differences.
If you’re considering getting a protective or peace order, you must know the differences between the two. This article will discuss how protective order and peace order in Maryland differ.
What is a Protective Order?
In Maryland, protective orders are governed by Maryland Family Law § 4-501. They are no-contact orders issued by a judge to protect someone who has been a domestic violence or abuse victim. Domestic violence can be physical, emotional, or sexual in nature.
Who Can Request a Protective Order?
To request a protective order against someone, you must:
- Be married, divorced, or separated
- Be related to the abuser by blood, adoption, or marriage
- Have had a sexual relationship with the other person (for no less than 90 days in the last year)
- Have been sexually assaulted or raped in the last six months by the other party
A protective order bans the abuser from contacting or going near the victim, any children, or other family members listed in the order. It can also require the abuser to move out of the victim’s home, stay away from the victim’s workplace, and relinquish any weapons or firearms in their possession.
Obtaining a Protective Order in Maryland
To receive a protective order, the victim must file a petition in the District Court or Circuit Court where they reside or where the abuse occurred. The petition must describe the nature of the abuse and the relationship between the parties.
A judge will review the petition. If they determine that the victim has been abused or is in immediate danger of being abused, they can issue a temporary protective order, which is in effect until a hearing is held. Both parties can present evidence at the hearing, and the judge will decide whether to issue a final protective order, which can last up to one year.
What is a Peace Order?
A peace order is issued by a judge to protect someone experiencing harassment, stalking, or other threatening behavior that isn’t domestic violence. Peace orders in Maryland are governed by Maryland Code Courts and Judicial Proceedings §3-1501.
A peace order can prohibit the respondent from contacting or going near the petitioner and any children or other family members listed on order. It can also require the respondent to move out of the petitioner’s home or stay away from the petitioner’s workplace.
Who Can Request a Peace Order?
Any resident of Maryland can request a peace order. First, however, you must ensure you don’t qualify for a protective order. This means that you must not be related to the other party.
Obtaining a Peace Order in Maryland
To obtain a peace order, you must file a petition in the District Court where you reside or where the harassment or threatening behavior occurred. The petition must describe the behavior causing the petitioner to feel threatened or harassed.
Your petition must state which of the following acts the other party committed.
- An act causing severe bodily harm
- An act putting you in fear of imminent severe physical harm
- Assault (any degree)
- False imprisonment
- Malicious destruction of property
- Telephone equipment or facilities misuse
- Electronic equipment or interactive computer service misuse
- Revenge porn
- Visual surveillance
A judge will review the petition. If they determine that the petitioner has been harassed or is in immediate danger of being harassed, they can issue a temporary peace order, which will remain in effect until a hearing is held. At the hearing, the petitioner and the respondent will have an opportunity to present evidence, and the judge will decide whether to issue a final peace order, which can last up to six months.
How Protective Order and Peace Order Differ
Here are the key differences between protective and peace orders in Maryland.
- Relationship between the parties. Protective orders pertain to domestic violence situations where the abuser is the victim’s family or household member. Peace orders apply to harassment or threatening behavior when the parties aren’t related.
- Duration of the order. Protective orders can last up to a year, while peace orders are for up to six months.
- Proof of abuse. To obtain a protective order, the victim must provide evidence of domestic violence or abuse, such as medical records, police reports, or witness statements. To get a peace order, the petitioner must provide proof of harassment or threatening behavior, such as emails, text messages, or recordings.
- Standard of proof. To obtain a protective order, the victim must show by a preponderance of the evidence that they have been abused or are in immediate danger of being abused. This means that it’s more likely than not that the abuse occurred. To obtain a peace order, the petitioner must show clear and convincing evidence that they have been harassed or are in immediate danger of being harassed. This means the evidence must be compelling, leaving little doubt in the judge’s mind.
- Scope of the order. Protective orders can include provisions for child custody, visitation, financial support, and surrendering firearms and weapons. Peace orders do not address these issues.
Still Have Questions? Contact Jeremy Widder Law
Protective and peace orders serve different purposes and are available to individuals in different situations in Maryland. Therefore, individuals need to understand the differences between the two types of orders and seek the appropriate type of order for their situation. If you still have questions, enlisting the services of an experienced attorney is essential.
Regardless of which side of the protective or peace order you are on, Jeremy Widder Law can help. We’ve made it our goal to help ease the concerns that accompany legal issues by guiding you through the legal system and will protect you and your rights.
Contact us today for a free consultation.