What is the Difference Between a Protective Order and a Peace Order?

Maryland Law Blog

April 30, 2020
Category: Protective Orders

Protective and peace orders are two classes of restraining orders that are put in place to keep someone from harming, harassing, stalking, or otherwise contacting you. The main difference between these two types of civil orders is the relationship between you and the offender. Let’s take a closer look at these methods of legal protection to better differentiate between the two.

file protective order peace order

Protective Orders

This Maryland civil order allows victims of domestic violence to receive legal protection, as well as additional forms of relief in order to keep them safe from their abuser.

Who Can File for a Protective Order: A protective order is sought after when the abuser has a current or previous relationship with the victim. Those eligible to apply for a protective order include:

  • Former and current spouses
  • Cohabitants for 90 days within the past year
  • Someone related by marriage, adoption, or blood
  • Parents, stepparents, and stepchildren
  • Vulnerable adults (e.g. disabled and elderly individuals)
  • Someone who has a child with the respondent
  • Someone who has had a sexual relationship with the respondent in the past year

Kinds of Abuse: In protective orders, abuse is defined as: 1) an act that causes serious bodily harm, 2) an act that places the petitioner in fear of imminent serious bodily harm, 3) assault, 4) sexual offense, 5) false imprisonment, or 6) stalking.

Filing a Protective Order in Maryland: Both District and Circuit Courts have jurisdiction over these types of orders, and there is no filing fee when applying for a protective order. There are not time restrictions on when you are able to file for a protective order. Seeking one can be done anytime after the abusive act has occurred. However, it is often in the victim’s best interest to file as soon as possible once abuse has occurred in order to put legal protection in place and discontinue the abuse quickly.

Peace Orders

Peace orders are procedurally the same as protective orders but apply to a different classification of offenders and are able to be filed for additional types of abuse.

Who Can File for a Peace Order: A peace order is sought after when the abuser is a person who:

  • Has no spousal relationship, current or past, with the petitioner
  • Has not been a cohabitant for 90 days in the last year
  • Is unrelated to the petitioner by marriage, adoption, or blood
  • Is not a parent, stepparent, or stepchild of the petitioner
  • Is not parent to a petitioner’s child
  • Has not had a sexual relationship with the petitioner in the past year

Peace orders exist to provide legal protection to those who are victims of abuse but who are not eligible to file for a protective order.

Kinds of Abuse: In protective orders, abuse is defined as: 1) an act that causes serious bodily harm, 2) an act that places the petitioner in fear of imminent serious bodily harm, 3) assault, 4) sexual offense, 5) false imprisonment, 6) stalking, 7) harassment, 8) trespassing under Title 6, Subtitle 4 of the Criminal Law Article, or 9) malicious destruction of property.

Filing a Peace Order in Maryland: Only the District Court has jurisdiction over these types of orders, and filing a peace order includes both a filing fee and a service fee. There are cases where the filing fee may be waived for indigent petitioners, but the service fee is required in all cases.

Additional requirements for filing a peace order include:

  • The act must have occurred within 30 days of the date of filing the petition
  • The petitioner must show the court that the act occurred, and that it is likely to occur again.

Do I Need a Lawyer to File a Protective or Peace Order in Maryland?

Although having an attorney is not required in order to file for either civil order in this state, seeking guidance and legal advice from a family law attorney can be highly beneficial in ensuring you apply for the proper order and get the specific legal protection you need.

Alan Billian is a Maryland family lawyer with over 28 years of experience in providing victims of abuse with legal guidance and services they need. If you’d like to learn more about applying for a peace or protective order, reach out to us today.

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