What is a peace order?
A peace order allows an individual to ask their respective local court to obtain protection against another person who has been bothering them. The order will prohibit the offender from contacting their victim in any way. They are not allowed to harass, threaten or perform any acts of bodily harm against the person who has filed for the peace order.
What are peace orders used for?
Peace orders may be filed against coworkers, neighbors, friends, acquaintances and strangers. They are not intended for romantic partners, spouses, parents of a person’s children, people who are currently living with you or immediate relatives. Protective orders would be more applicable in those instances.
An employer can also request a peace order against one of their employees. The employee would be considered the on behalf of party and the employer would be the petitioner in that situation. Peace orders can be obtained by people who currently live in the state of Maryland and by employers whose employee they are requesting a peace order for lives in Maryland. Peace orders can also be sought if the particular act in question occurred in Maryland.
Why should I ask for a peace order?
If someone that you know who is not related to you or living with you has committed one or more of the following actions against you, you may want to think about asking for a peace order against them:
- False imprisonment
- Revenge porn
- Intentional destruction of your personal property
- False imprisonment
- Misuse of an interactive computer service or other form of electronic communication
- Misuse of phone facilities or equipment
- An action that causes you to reasonably fear that the person may inflict serious bodily harm upon you
- Criminal visual surveillance
- Shoving, kicking, shooting, punching, choking or other acts that have physically harmed you.
You’ll have up to 30 days from when one of these acts happened to file for a peace order. After that, your request may not necessarily be reviewed or taken seriously.
What is a final peace order?
A final peace order is the last step in a three-part process. It usually begins with an interim peace order that’s requested when the local district court is not in session. If the court is in session, you can skip ahead to ask for a temporary peace order. Temporary peace orders are good for up to 7 days after the respondent has been served with a copy of the order. They can be extended up to 30 days, if necessary, as long as the petitioner can provide reasonable cause that would warrant an extension.
There is a $40 service fee and a $46 filing fee for a peace order. The court could choose to waive the filing fee if you’re not able to pay it. The service fee will not be waived.
You will also be asked to take an oath when you first file for a peace order. You must answer all questions completely and honestly to the best of your knowledge. Providing incomplete or untrue information can be considered a misdemeanor. You may also be assessed with a prison sentence of up to 90 days and/or a fine of no more than $1,000 as a result.
How can I request a final peace order?
When a temporary peace order is issued, it will also include details as to the date, time and location of the final peace order hearing. Both the petitioner (the person who has asked for the peace order) and the respondent (the person who the peace order has been sought against) should attend the hearing. If the respondent doesn’t reply to the order or attend the hearing, a default order may be issued against the respondent by the judge.
One or both parties may represent themselves or enlist the assistance of legal counsel. The judge presiding over the final peace order hearing may or may not be the same person from the temporary peace order hearing, so it’s important to have all evidence and testimony present at this hearing. Keep photos, medical records, and copies of police reports for the acts that warranted the peace order request. Ask witnesses to attend this hearing if possible.
The respondent will be allowed to ask questions and their lawyer may cross-examine you and any witnesses that have spoken for you. They will try to find faults, errors and omissions in the evidence that was presented. Be prepared to answer all questions honestly.
At the end of the hearing, the judge will take all information that was presented into consideration. They will evaluate whether or not any harmful activities happened and if the accused person is likely to commit such acts against the petitioner again. If they believe this could happen, they will most likely issue a final peace order. Both parties will receive a copy of the peace order.
What protection is provided by a final peace order?
One or more of these actions may be ordered by the judge in the final peace order:
- One party may be required to pay for the costs related to the case, including the filing fee.
- The respondent will not be allowed to visit your home.
- The respondent will be barred from contacting, harassing or threatening you.
- The respondent will be required to remain away from your temporary home, place of employment or school.
- The respondent may be ordered to enter into a rehabilitation program. Both parties may be directed to attend meditation if both parties are agreeable to it.
- The respondent cannot commit acts of violence or threaten to commit acts against you that could result in bodily harm.
How long are final peace orders valid for?
The final peace order will be valid for up to 6 months. The exact length of time will be specified in the order. They may be extended for up to another 6 months if necessary.
Both parties may have peace orders issued against one another. If mutual peace orders are given, the judge most likely determined that an act of violence, harassment or threat was made by both people and that each individual is apt to commit another such act against the other in the future.
If the person that you filed a peace order against violates that order, contact your local law enforcement as soon as possible. They will want to know everything that happened. Keep your copy of the peace order for future reference. Penalties for violating a peace order are a jail term of up to 90 days or a fine of as much as $1,000. Those penalties can be increased for each additional violation of the peace order.
Peace orders can be daunting. It’s not always easy to take action against someone that you know and trust. If you have questions, contact us today to set up a free consultation. Our trained professionals will listen to what you have to say and provide valuable advice about your possible next steps. A peace order may end the stress, worry and anxiety that you’ve been facing. It can help you get your life back on track again in no time.