What is a peace order?
A peace order is used to prevent someone from contacting another person. Peace orders do not apply to people that an individual is related to or has had a romantic relationship with at some point. Protective orders may be applicable in those instances.
What are peace orders used for?
Coworkers, friends, neighbors, acquaintances and strangers are people whom a peace order can be sought for. Employers can also request peace orders against employees who have committed acts of violence or threatened violence toward coworkers or managers. Maryland residents and employers who are filing on behalf of an employee who lives in the state of Maryland may file peace orders as needed.
Why should I get a peace order?
If you have experienced one or more of the following acts that were committed by another person, you should consider filing for a peace order:
- Revenge porn.
- Malicious destruction of personal property.
- Criminal visual surveillance.
- False imprisonment.
- Misuse of an interactive computer service (such as social media, for example) or another form of electronic communication.
- Misuse of phone equipment and facilities.
- Any type of action that could reasonably make you believe that the person intends to inflict bodily harm upon you.
- Shoving, stabbing, kicking, punching, shooting or other actions that cause significant bodily harm to you.
Any of the above actions should be reported to your local law enforcement office as soon as possible. You should take pictures of any bruises, scratches, cuts or other evidence of damage (such as broken or damaged personal possessions). The police officer that responds to your call may ask you to describe what happened. Be sure to answer all questions completely and honestly as you remember the events.
What is a temporary peace order?
A temporary peace order is often the second step in the process. It will prevent the offender from contacting you. They may be prohibited from visiting your temporary home, school or office or entering your permanent residence. Temporary peace orders can also forbid a person from harassing you, threatening you, or committing any acts of violence against you. The specific types of relief that are granted will depend on the individual situation.
You can start by filing for an interim peace order at your local county commissioner’s office. There will be a petition for you to complete. Interim peace orders are valid for two business days. You do not need to have an interim peace order requested or already in place to ask for a temporary peace order.
How can I request a temporary peace order?
You can ask for a temporary peace order directly by inquiring at your local county district court during normal weekday business hours. There you can file for a Petition for Peace Order. You will be known during the proceedings as the petitioner, and the person who you’ve requested a peace order against will be referred to as the respondent. This step can be skipped if you’ve already applied for and been granted an interim peace order. In that instance, a temporary peace order will have already been scheduled for you.
If you’re filing a peace order for the first time, you must complete the form completely and answer all questions to the best of your knowledge. Peace orders must be filed within 30 days from when the initial act occurred. Intentionally providing untruthful information in a peace order request could result in a jail sentence of no more than 90 days and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
A service fee of $40 and a filing fee of $46 for the peace order. The judge may waive the filing fee if the requestor is having financial difficulty. Proof of this hardship will need to be supplied.
You will be required to stand before a judge to state why you are asking for relief. Reasonable grounds are the standard burden of proof that must be provided. You should bring any evidence, such as photos, medical records and police reports that can support your claim. You may also want to ask witnesses to come along to speak on your behalf.
The judge will review all information that was presented before coming to a decision. They will usually need to determine whether or not the offender committed the acts and if that same person is likely to commit those or other violent actions toward the petitioner in the future. Whether or not an interim peace order has already been issued against the same person should not significantly impact this decision unless the offender has already been proven to have a history of potentially damaging behavior toward the requestor.
If the judge awards a temporary peace order, copies of the order will be given to law enforcement. A law enforcement officer will serve the respondent with a copy of that order. The temporary peace order will also include the time, date and location where a final peace order hearing will be held. These hearings are usually scheduled about a week after the temporary peace order’s court proceedings. If both parties agree to waive the temporary peace order hearing, the court will move ahead with the final peace order hearing. This leap ahead will only happen if there is mutual consent and if the court can personally make jurisdiction decisions for the respondent in the case.
How long are temporary peace orders good for?
Temporary peace orders are valid for 7 days after the respondent has been served with a copy of the order. The order will be good until the second day that the court is open if the original expiration date falls on a date when the court is not in session. A temporary peace order may be extended for up to 30 days, provided that the judge has reasonable cause to prolong the order.
If you’ve been served with a temporary peace order, it’s recommended to respond immediately. Failure to return the completed form or appear in court when required could cause you to be charged with a misdemeanor. Possible penalties include a fine and/or jail time. Initial penalties for violating a peace order are no more than 90 days in prison or a fine of up to $1,000. These penalties can increase for each subsequent violation.
Peace orders aren’t something that most of us want to deal with. People would usually prefer to deal with these matters individually. However, things may get to a point when the offender doesn’t listen, or their behavior escalates in dangerous fashion. If you need to file a peace order, we can help. Contact us to set up a no-obligation consultation. Our trained professionals will listen to you and advise as to possible next steps. Getting a peace order can be an important first step in regaining the happiness that’s so essential for maintaining a great standard of life.