What Is a Peace Order?
A peace order is a court order. It is used to stop a certain person from contacting you or visiting your home, workplace or school. Peace orders are commonly used for coworkers, friends, strangers, acquaintances and others.
Peace orders and protective orders are different. Protective orders are primarily filed against family members and former domestic partners. They are used when incidents of sexual assault, violence or threats have occurred. Peace orders are not intended for people that are related to you or that whom you’ve had a personal, intimate relationship with.
How Can I Obtain a Peace Order?
If you’ve been a victim of malicious property destruction, trespassing, harassment, abuse, stalking or trespass by a stranger, coworker or another non-family member, you may want to think about getting a peace order against that person. Visual surveillance, revenge porn and purposeful misuse of electronic or phone communications are other valid reasons for obtaining a peace order. You can contact a qualified lawyer, your local county commissioner, a court clerk or go online to find the necessary paperwork.
A Petition for Peace Order (form DC-PO-001) will be required for a peace order. Depending on the situation, you may also need to fill out a Peace Order Supplement (DC-PO-15) and/or a Peace Order Addendum (CC-DC-PO-001A). The documents can be filed with a district court clerk when courts are open. They can be filed with a district court commissioner’s office when courts are closed. All peace order petitions must be filed within thirty days from when the alleged acts listed on the order request happened.
What Happens Next?
An immediate interim hearing will be scheduled if you filed your documentation while the courts were closed. You will meet with the commissioner to explain the events that led to your decision to request a peace order. An interim protective order will be issued if the commissioner decides that the situation qualifies for relief and determines that abuse occurred. Interim protective orders are typically valid for two days.
The commissioner will also provide you with paperwork that includes the schedule for a temporary hearing. This will be your first hearing for a peace order if you filed your paperwork when courts were open. At this hearing, a judge will listen to what you have to say. They will review your statements and any related documentation that was supplied. If necessary, the judge will then issue a temporary peace order. Temporary peace orders are valid for seven days but can be extended.
Both temporary and interim peace orders may instruct the accused person to stay away from the victim’s residence, place of employment or school. They can also forbid the abuser from contacting, harassing, threatening or abusing the victim. The court will also schedule a final hearing. The victim and the accused must be present at this hearing.
At the final hearing, the judge will invite both parties to plead their case. They will then determine whether or not a final peace order will be issued. If a final peace order is released, it will have guidelines that may be the same as or similar to those in the temporary or interim peace orders. It may also require mediation or counseling and that the respondent pay certain court costs and other associated fees. Final peace orders are good for six months. The judge may extend the final peace order for another six months if they choose.
What Can I Do If I’m Served with a Peace Order?
A member of law enforcement is responsible for serving respondents with peace orders, usually the Sheriff’s office. If you’ve been served with a peace order, pay attention to the instructions that are contained in the documentation. It may limit or prohibit any or all contact with the person who requested the order. It will also include a hearing date.
There may be situations when respondents may want to have their case record access by third parties limited. This may be granted under special situations. Peace order hearings are not criminal cases, and respondents can not be represented by a public defender. Respondents will be asked by the judge if they agree to the order. They can agree or contest the case.
You can speak to a lawyer if you were served with a peace order. Feel free to contact us for an in-person or telephone consultation. We’ll sit down with you to address your concerns and the actions that you can take.
Violating a peace order is a misdemeanor. Respondents could be fined up to $1,000 and/or be sentenced to jail in the state of Maryland for no more than 90 days. Additional files and prison time could be added for repeat offenders.
Peace orders can be confusing. They aren’t the same as protective orders or restraining orders. Fortunately, we’re here to help. You can schedule a no-obligation consultation. One of our experienced attorneys will explain how peace orders work and their potential advantages and disadvantages. We can also help you get the paperwork started so that you can slowly return to normal once more.