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Know the Laws: Maryland

UPDATED August 2, 2014

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A peace order is similar to a domestic violence protective order in that they both require you to be a victim of abuse and they both offer you similar forms of protection from the abuser. However, if your relationship to the abuser falls under the category for a domestic violence protective order, (see Who can get a protective order?), you would NOT be eligible for a peace order.

Basic information

back to topWhat types of peace orders are there? How long do they last?

There are three types of peace orders:

Interim peace orders. If you wish to file for a peace order but the district court clerk’s office is closed, you can file for an interim order by going to the nearest District Court commissioner.  If the commissioner believes that you have been abused by the person you are filing against and that the abuser is likely to abuse you again in the future, s/he may issue an interim peace order.*  An interim peace order goes into effect once the respondent is served by a law enforcement officer.*1  The interim peace order lasts until a judge holds a temporary peace order hearing or until the end of the second business day that the court clerk’s office is open after the interim peace order is issued, whichever comes sooner.  If the court is closed on the day on which the interim peace order is due to expire, the interim peace order will be effective until the next day on which the court is open, at which time the court shall hold a temporary peace order hearing.*2 The interim peace order has to include the date for the temporary peace order hearing, and a tentative date for the final peace order hearing.*3  Note: Even if you are denied an interim peace order, you can still apply for a temporary or final peace order.*4

Temporary peace orders. When you go to court during normal court hours to file for a final peace order, you can ask for a temporary peace order, which can be issued the same day.  If the judge believes that you have been abused by the person you are filing against and that the abuser is likely to abuse you again in the future, s/he may issue a temporary peace order.  This order can be issued with or without the abuser present.*5  The order is effective when it is served.*6  The temporary order is in effect for up to 7 days after service of the order unless the court is closed on the day on which the temporary peace order is due to expire.  In that case, the temporary peace order shall be effective until the second day on which the court is open, by which time the court should hold a final peace order hearing.  However, the judge may extend the temporary order to allow for service of the order or for another good reason, but not to more than 30 days.*7   Note: If the respondent is at the hearing, the judge may go ahead and hold a hearing for a final peace order instead of a temporary one if you and the respondent agree to this.*8

Final peace orders. The respondent has the opportunity to be present at the final peace order hearing.  If the judge believes that you have been abused by the person you are filing against and that the abuser is likely to abuse you again in the future, s/he may issue a final peace order, which can last for up to 6 months.*9  As of October 2011, peace orders can be extended.*10  See Can I modify, cancel or extend my peace order? for more information.

* MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1503.1(a),(b)
*1 “Peace and Protective Orders” Brochure, MD Judiciary
*2 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1503.1(g)
*3 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1503.1(d)(1)(i)
*4 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1503.1(h)
*5 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1504(a)(1)
*6 See generally MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1504(b); “Peace and Protective Orders” Brochure, MD Judiciary
*7 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1504(c)
*8 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1504(d)
*9 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1505(a),(c)(1)(ii),(f)
*10 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1506(a)(2)

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back to topWhat acts of abuse would qualify me for a peace order?

If you meet the relationship requirement (explained in Who can get a peace order?), you can file for a peace order if one or more of the following acts has happened within 30 days before you file for the order:

  • An act that causes serious bodily harm;
  • An act that places you in fear of immediate serious bodily harm;
  • Assault in any degree;
  • Attempted or actual rape or sexual offense; (go to MD Statutes, and read sections 3-303 through 3-308 for the definitions);
  • False imprisonment;
  • Harassment (read the defintion at MD Statutes section 3-803);
  • Stalking (read the definition at MD Statutes section 3-802);
  • Trespass;
  • Malicious destruction of property (read the definition at MD Statutes section 6-301).*
* MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1503(a)

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back to topHow can a peace order help me?

Interim, temporary and final peace orders can order the respondent to:

  • stop committing or threatening to commit an act of abuse against you;
  • stop contacting, attempting to contact, or harassing you;
  • stay away from your home, place of employment, school, or temporary residence.*
Additionally, only a final peace order can order:
  • you or the respondent to participate in professionally supervised counseling ;
  • you and the respondent to go to mediation, but ONLY if you both agree to it;
  • you or the respondent to pay the filing fees and costs of the proceeding.**
* MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. §§ 3-1503.1(c)(2), 3-1504(a)(2), 3-1505(d)(1)
** MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1505(d)(1)

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back to topAm I eligible for a peace order?

Peace orders are meant to protect people who do not qualify for a protective order.   If you are eligible to file for a domestic violence protection order, you are NOT eligible for a peace order.* (To see if you would qualify for domestic violence protection order, go to Who can get a protective order?)

Here are a few examples of relationships that may qualify you for a peace order:

  • a boyfriend/ girlfriend who you do NOT have a child in common with and who you do NOT live with;
  • a neighbor;
  • a co-worker;
  • an acquaintance;
  • a stranger;
  • a parent, stepparent, child, or stepchild who you do NOT currently live with and you have NOT lived with for 90 days or more within 1 year before the filing of the petition.*1
Note: The abuser must be 18 years or older at the time of the abuse for you to be able to apply for a peace order against him/her.*2

* MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1502(b)(1)
*1 “Peace and Protective Orders” Brochure," MD Judiciary
*2 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1502(b)(2)

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