Are you being harassed or worried for your safety? Has someone been stalking you, threatening you, or making you feel increasingly uncomfortable? If you are in a situation where you feel the best way to keep yourself or your family safe is by legally having someone stay away, refrain from contacting you, or stop their behavior towards you, then you may need to consider filing a peace order.
What is a peace order?
A peace order is a court-ordered form of legal protection for someone experiencing problems with another individual. Its function is to protect an individual by requiring the other party to refrain from coming near them or continuing behavior that’s intended to harm the other party.
A peace order is enacted when the petitioner (the person filing the peace order) is worried harm or harassment will come to them or a family member by the respondent (the individual accused of the wrongdoing).
A peace order can include any action which may put the petitioner in potential harm’s way including:
- Harming, hurting, or touching
- Threatening the victim
- Coming within a certain distance
- Visiting the home or workplace of the petitioner
- Speaking with or attempting to contact the individual (physically or through other means of communication i.e. text, letter, a third party, etc.)
Traditionally a peace order would only be filed on behalf of the individual for themselves or someone in their care such as their child.
Effective 10/1/2021, HB 289 Chapter 341 authorizes an employer to file a peace order for their employee for certain acts that happen at the workplace.
Difference between a peace order and protective order in Maryland
You may have heard the terms protective order and peace order used interchangeably. In some regards, they are very similar. Both peace orders and protective orders serve the purpose of protecting victims by refraining another party from interacting or getting close to them. While these two court orders are very similar they are in fact different.
The differences mainly stem from the nature of the relationship the victim/petitioner has with the culprit/respondent.
A protective order is filed when the two parties are in a domestic relationship. Parent and child, spouses, cohabitors, those in or who previously were in a sexual relationship within 1 year of the petition being filed, etc. When it comes to protective orders, the petitioner can be the individual looking to protect themselves (or family members) but it can also be the State’s Attorney or the department of social services on behalf of a child or vulnerable person.
A peace order is filed when the two parties are not in a domestic relationship. The accused person could be someone the victim knows such as a neighbor, acquaintance, co-worker, past boyfriend/girlfriend or they could be a stranger.
Depending on the situation, a victim will qualify for either a peace order or a protection order. If you’re unsure, an attorney can help you decide what is best and how to file.
How to file a peace order in Maryland
Filing a peace order in Maryland does not take many steps but the process of obtaining a peace order can be a long and stressful one especially if you’re in a situation where you’re scared or you feel that time is of the essence.
Here is the process of filing and obtaining a peace order:
- Start by filling out a series of forms
- Next, file the paperwork with the clerk in a District Court
- If courts are closed you can submit the paperwork to the District Court Commissioner’s office. (only choose this option if the District Court is closed)
- Depending on where you filed your forms, you will have a hearing immediately.
- If filed with the Commissioner, you will have an interim hearing right away.
- If the commissioner believes you qualify then they will provide an interim peace order and schedule a date for a temporary hearing at the District Court.
- If filed with the District Court you will skip the interim hearing and peace order and will have a temporary hearing right away to see if you qualify for a peace order.
- If the judge believes that you qualify for a peace order they will provide a temporary peace order, which lasts seven days.
- At this point, you will work with the courts to schedule your final hearing
- During this time, law enforcement will attempt to serve copies of your petition to the other party.
- Finally, you will have a final hearing to provide evidence. The respondent may likely be at this hearing to provide evidence as well.
Once you’ve obtained a peace order, it will remain in effect for up to six months. This can be extended by the courts if necessary.
Unfortunately for some, a peace order is not guaranteed. It’s important that this process is done correctly and that evidence is properly presented or else the courts may find that you do not qualify for one.
A lawyer who specializes in peace orders can help you through each step in this process to help you ensure the best outcome.
How a peace order lawyer can help
When it comes to peace order protections, one does not require a lawyer. However, it can be advantageous for an individual to seek legal counsel especially if the abuser has a lawyer. If one is worried for their safety, or their family’s safety, they shouldn’t risk the peace order being denied.
Having a lawyer can help the petitioner in many ways:
- Helping them to understand the process
- Giving guidance on filing the petition and other necessary documents
- Providing steps and insights along the way
- I.e. how to keep a petitioner’s address and contact information private on court documents that are given to the respondent.
- Knowing what to keep and provide as evidence
- Understanding timeframes and deadlines
At the end of the day, a lawyer is there to help a victim ensure that their peace order goes off without a hitch. If you’re worried about your safety or your family, the last thing you want is for your peace order to be denied.
At the Law Offices of David Mabrey, we provide personal attention to every client that walks through our doors. We believe that this is crucial especially when it comes to the time-sensitive nature of something like a peace order. If you’re in Maryland and looking for a peace order lawyer, then consider giving us a call. We provide the experience and the care to help you protect yourself and/or your family.