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Should I Obtain a Peace or Protective Order in Maryland?

Law Office of Kari Holm Fawcett

Both peace and protective orders can give relief to people who are suffering from abuse.

In July of this year, there were thousands of petitions filed for peace and protective orders in Maryland. According to the Maryland Courts, 1,938 people requested protective orders, and 1,049 people asked for peace orders.

Though these orders are very similar in nature, there are a few distinctions that can help people determine which they will need. Requesting the right one will ensure that victims of abuse will receive the protection they need.

The Difference

In order to secure a protective order, at least one of the following qualifications must be met:

  • The petitioner must be married or have been married to the respondent.

  • The petitioner must be in some way related to the respondent, through marriage, blood or adoption.

  • The petitioner must have had a sexual relationship and lived with that person for at least 90 days over the last 12 months.

  • The petitioner must have had a sexual relationship with the respondent in the past year.

  • The petitioner must have a child with the respondent.

People who do not qualify for a protective order may file for a peace order. Typically, victims of domestic violence will qualify for a protective order. However, someone who dated a person years ago may not meet the requirements for a protective order but may need legal protection from that person, which would come in the form of a peace order.

What These Orders Do

Both orders can ensure that the respondent leaves the petitioner alone. In a domestic violence situation, the respondent may be ordered to avoid the home, workplace or school of the petitioner. In some cases, the petitioner could be awarded custody of a child and financial support, at least temporarily, when a protective order is filed. A protective order could also force the respondent to hand over firearms.

How to Obtain an Order

People who are suffering abuse can file a petition for either order with a circuit or district court in Maryland. From there, a temporary hearing will be scheduled. During the hearing, the judge will ask the victim about the abuse while the victim is under oath. The judge may then grant a temporary order until a final hearing takes place. According to Maryland law, that hearing must occur with seven days of the original filing.

The judge will listen to both sides during the final hearing and then make a decision. A final protective order typically lasts for one to two years, though it is possible to obtain a permanent order. This may happen in cases in which the respondent was convicted of a crime based on the abuse. A peace order typically only lasts for six months, though it may be extended for another six months if there is good cause to do so.

Seeking protection from abusers is an important part of keeping victims and their loved ones safe. People who need assistance with this topic should speak with a family law attorney in Maryland.