If you are harassed, attacked, abused, or being subjected to outrageous conduct by someone who is not related to you, sometimes your best recourse is a Peace Order. Peace Orders are somewhat similar to domestic violence protection orders as they were established so the Courts can order a person who has abused you to stay away from you.
A Maryland Peace Order is an Order of Court that provides you with legal protection from someone who is abusing you. Peace Orders are similar to, but not exactly like, Domestic Violence Protection Orders. If you are experiencing problems with someone who is not a family member (a neighbor, someone you are dating, co-worker, distant relative, or anyone else). A Peace Order is a Court Order that orders another to leave you alone. Upon the entry of a Peace Order, the subject must stay away and have no contact with you or risk arrest and possibly, jail.
Where can I find the law on how to obtain a Peace Order?
The Maryland statutes for a Peace Order are in the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article, Subtitle 15 Peace Orders, Section 3-1501 to Section 3-1510, (2013 Edition). Click our “links” page to connect to where you may research the Maryland code.
Where do I go to obtain a Peace Order?
To obtain a Peace Order, you would go to the District Court of Maryland in the county that you reside or the party to whom you want to enjoin resides. If the District Court of Maryland is closed, you can also file with the District Court Commissioner.
Am I a person eligible for relief?
Unless you are a person eligible for a Domestic Violence Protection Order (see below), you qualify for a Peace Order. Persons who are eligible to obtain a Domestic Violence Protection Order cannot file a Peace Order (See MD Code Ann FL §4-501(m), see below). Note the word “respondent” in the next paragraph means the person who you want enjoined.
If you are: the current or former spouse of the respondent; a cohabitant of the respondent; a person related to the respondent by blood, marriage, or adoption; a parent, stepparent, child, or stepchild of the respondent or the person eligible for relief who resides or resided with the respondent or person eligible for relief for at least 90 days within 1 year before the filing of the petition; a vulnerable adult; or an individual who has a child in common with the respondent;
You should file for a Domestic Violence Protection Order. If you do not meet any of the above criteria, you are eligible to receive a Peace Order.
What did the offender have to do for me to qualify for a Peace Order?
Under Md Code Ann. CJP §3-1503(a), you may seek a Peace Order if your petition for relief alleges the following acts against you by the offender (respondent) within the thirty (30) days before filing your Petition:
(a) Underlying acts. — A petitioner may seek relief under this subtitle by filing with the court, or with a commissioner under the circumstances specified in §3-1503.1(a) of this subtitle, a petition that alleges the commission of any of the following acts against the petitioner by the respondent, if the act occurred within 30 days before the filing of the petition:
(1) An act that causes serious bodily harm;
(2) An act that places [you] in fear of imminent serious bodily harm;
(3) Assault in any degree;
(4) Rape or sexual offense under §§ 3-303 through 3-308 of the Criminal Law Article or attempted rape or sexual offense in any degree
(5) False imprisonment;
(6) Harassment under §3-803 of the Criminal Law Article;
(7) Stalking under §3-802 of the Criminal Law Article;
(8) Trespass under Title 6, Subtitle 4 of the Criminal Law Article; or,
(9) Malicious destruction of property under § 6-301 of the Criminal Law Article.
So lets assume that the offender did one of the §3-1503.1(a) acts, what should I do next if I want a Peace Order?
You should go to the Civil Clerk of the District Court of Maryland, or the District Court of Maryland Commissioner’s Office, and request a Peace Order Petition Form (Form No. CC-DC PO1). The form can be found at: http://www.courts.state.md.us/district/dctcivforms.html. There is also a self-help brochure available too. After completing the form, you must appear for a temporary hearing. At your temporary hearing, the District Court Judge will ask you a few questions to determine if there are proper grounds for you to obtain a Peace Order. Tell the Judge the truth. Explain to the Judge what happened that is consistent with the §3-1503.1(a) acts that allow you to get a Peace Order. Bring any pictures, letters, notes text messages, voice mails, doctors’ bills, police reports, witnesses, or anything else that you have to support your testimony. You must be able to show to the Judge that the act(s) complained of occurred, and are likely to occur again in the future.
If a Temporary Peace Order is issued, what happens next?
The Temporary Peace Order must be served by the Sheriff on the respondent. Following service of the Temporary Peace Order, a final hearing is held before the Judge. The Judge’s role at the final hearing is to hear from the Respondent why the Peace Order should not be extended. The “standard of proof” is clear and convincing evidence. So for a second time, you must explain to the Judge what happened that is consistent with a§3-1503.1(a) violation/act that allows you to get a Peace Order. You should again bring with you to court any: pictures, letters, notes text messages, voice mails, doctors’ bills, police reports, witnesses, or anything else that you have to support your testimony. You must be able to show to the Judge that the act(s) complained of occurred, and are likely to occur again in the future. You should also consider hiring Shechtel and Associates, P.A., to act as your attorneys at the Final Peace Order hearing. We know the law. We know what is clear and convincing evidence. We know what the Court needs for you to get your Peace Order.
What do I do if the person who is trying to get a peace order against me is lying?
Do not try to defend the action by yourself. If you are served with a Temporary Peace Order, you should immediately retain an attorney to assist you. Peace Orders are no joke. They are very serious, and if violated, can result in your being arrested or going to jail. Just like in the case of Domestic Violence Protection Orders, many Peace Orders are the result of a relationship gone bad, and the Petitioner wants you gone, or wants to punish you for something, anything.
We at Shechtel and Associates, P.A., know all about false evidence in support of a Peace Order. We know how stories get fabricated, false testimony, doctored photographs, missing text messages and emails, and more. We have been in court when a Petitioner testified in direct contravention to independent evidence that proved the witness was “telling a story.” If you have been served with a Temporary Peace Order, you should immediately seek the assistance of an attorney. Remember that the alleged “victim” will have the assistance of either an attorney, crisis center, or support group. Who or what are you going to have to assist you?
What if I lose, and I appeal?
Yes, an appeal is possible. However, the standard for a reversal on appeal is very high, and you should never attempt an appeal pro se.
What happens if a Peace Order is violated?
Upon a finding by the Court that a person failed to comply with an: Interim Peace Order, Temporary Peace Order, or a Peace Order, the offender is guilty of a misdemeanor. Pursuant to Md Code Ann CJP §3-1508. Failure to comply, the court may impose the following sentence(s):
(1) For a first offense, a fine not exceeding $1,000 or imprisonment not exceeding 90 days or both; and
(2) For a second or subsequent offense, a fine not exceeding $2,500 or imprisonment not exceeding 1 year or both.
In addition, any law enforcement officer shall arrest with or without a warrant and take into custody an individual who the officer has probable cause to believe is in violation of an interim peace order, temporary peace order, or final peace order in effect at the time of the violation.