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Peace Orders and Protective Orders

A petition for a Maryland peace order or protective order must allege specific criminal acts as the basis for the order. I can effectively defend you against the issuance of a Maryland peace order or protective order, and against any related criminal charges, including harassment, assault, stalking, trespass, violation of a peace order, or violation of a protective order. A final peace or protective order can also damage your reputation and may result in the loss of your job, even if no criminal charges are ever filed.

Maximum Penalties For Violation of a Peace Order or a Protective Order in Maryland:

  • Violation of a Peace Order: misdemeanor, up to 90 days incarceration and $1,000
  • Violation of a Protective Order, First Offense: misdemeanor, 90 days incarceration and $1,000
  • Violation of a Protective Order, Second or Subsequent Offense: misdemeanor, 1 year incarceration and $2,500

If someone has filed for a Maryland peace or protective order against you, please contact me immediately so that we can challenge it in court. The best time to defend against a peace or protective order is before a final order has been issued.  Having been the subject of a peace or protective order in the past can also disqualify you from many jobs, making it very important to fight these orders before they become final. It is also very easy to violate a peace order or a protective order accidentally, and the penalties for violation can be severe. If you are the subject of a Maryland peace or protective order, please contact me as soon as possible at (301) 556‑8709 so that we can protect your legal rights and your future employment.

When someone reports a crime, it is not unusual for the state to encourage them to file for a peace order or a protective order. This can often lead to the issuance of an interim, temporary, or final peace or protective order against you, even if your accuser did not initially intend to file for a peace or protective order.

Conversely, when your accuser files a petition for a peace order or a protective order, they are almost always making statements that allege a crime. Their allegations may result in criminal charges being filed. Because the criminal charges may sometimes take longer to process than the petition for a peace order, a warrant for your arrest may be issued after the peace order is served. I can find out if there are any criminal charges or arrest warrants against you, and defend you on those charges if necessary.

Maryland protective orders are issued to protect spouses, families, cohabitants, and those who have recently had a sexual relationship. Peace orders are issued to protect other people. In both cases, the person asking for the order must demonstrate that they are the victim of one of a number of specific abusive acts, and that you were the perpetrator.  In the case of a peace order only, they must also demonstrate that you are likely to commit one of the specific abusive acts again.  Violating either of these orders after they are issued against you can subject you to penalties including fines and incarceration.

Violation of a Maryland Peace Order or Protective Order

Maryland peace orders and protective orders are easy to violate accidentally because of their broad scope, and violations can sometimes be purposely caused by the person that is supposedly being protected by the order. Prosecutors can be particularly vigorous in this area, even for the most trivial violations; domestic violence is a very political issue. Prosecutorial vigor in this area can be doubly dangerous because the person protected by a peace or protective order is also sometimes attempting to manipulate or abuse the person subject to the order, turning the prosecution into just another means of abuse.

The maximum penalties may seem severe, but there are many ways that an effective lawyer can defend you against Maryland peace orders and Maryland protective orders, both when the order is issued, and afterward. Without the assistance of an attorney, it can be extremely difficult for you to know whether or not you are guilty of the crime charged, much less whether the prosecutor will be able to prove it. I can also defend you by fighting the underlying peace order or protective order to prevent problems in the future. A peace order or protective order that is rescinded or never issued in the first place is impossible to violate.

Fighting Invalid Peace Orders and Protective Orders

Peace orders and protective orders, sometimes referred to collectively as restraining orders, are similar in that they are issued to protect someone from a particular other person in the future, but they operate in favor of different classes of people. There are specific categories defining who may apply for a protective order. If a person is not in those categories, they must file for a peace order instead. One of the many ways that I can defend you from a protective order or a peace order is to argue that the person requesting the order is not in the correct category.

Who can file for a Protective Order against you:

  • Your current or former spouse
  • A person who has had a sexual relationship with you within the last year
  • Someone who has had a sexual relationship with you and has resided with you in the home for 90 days within the last year
  • Your relatives by blood, marriage, or adoption
  • An adult who lacks the physical or mental capacity to provide for their daily needs
  • Someone who has a child with you
  • Parents, children, stepchildren, or stepparents of either you or another party who falls in one of the above categories that resided with either you or the other party for 90 days within the last year

Who can file for a Peace Order against you:

  • Anyone who is not in one of the categories of people who may file for a protective order

A peace order is different and narrower than a protective order in some ways. A peace order requires that the judge order only the relief minimally necessary to protect the petitioner, while a protective order has no such requirement. A peace order also requires that the judge find that whatever behavior occurred is likely to continue unless the judge issues the order. No such finding is required for a protective order. Also, a peace order should not result in the removal of a person from their home. Protective orders can often have that result. Sometimes removal happens anyway in peace order cases due to mistakes, or poor or nonexistent legal representation. Unscrupulous people sometimes try to use peace orders in order to evict people rather than going through the proper legal process. I can help you with these situations.

It is not enough that the person filing for the peace order against you is in the right category of person. They also must be able to demonstrate that you committed one of a number of specific abusive acts against them. Depending on whether they are filing for a peace order or a protective order, the requisite abusive acts are somewhat different.

Acts that may qualify someone for a Protective Order

  • An act that causes serious bodily harm
  • An act that places the person in fear of imminent serious bodily harm
  • Assault
  • Attempted or completed rape or sexual offense
  • False imprisonment
  • Stalking
  • Child abuse, if the person protected by the order is a child
  • Abuse of an adult who lacks the physical or mental capacity to provide for their daily needs, if the person protected by the order is such an adult

Acts that may qualify someone for a Peace Order

  • An act that causes serious bodily harm
  • An act that places the person in fear of imminent serious bodily harm
  • Assault
  • Attempted or completed rape or sexual offense
  • False imprisonment
  • Harassment
  • Stalking
  • Trespass
  • Malicious destruction of property
  • Telephone misuse
  • Electronic communication or interactive computer service misuse
  • Revenge porn
  • Visual surveillance of a person in a private place with prurient intent
  • Covert camera surveillance of the inside of a private residence

Each of these acts has a detailed legal definition which I can use to fight the Maryland peace order or Maryland protective order so that it is not issued against you. There are also many other defenses that I can assert on your behalf.

Sometimes you may be both a person that files the order, and a person that has an order filed against you. These cases can proceed together, and I can help you with both cases. Whether or not they proceed together can be an important tactical consideration that can change the outcome of both cases. There are a lot of rules and details too involved to describe here that I can use to help you get a favorable resolution.

I have successfully defended many Maryland residents from these serious accusations, and I can help you too. Whether you are accused of violating a peace order or a protective order, or you are the subject of one, call (301) 556‑8709 today so that I can start protecting your freedom and your reputation right away.

Stages of a Peace Order or Protective Order Case

A peace order or protective order case proceeds in as many as three stages before a long term order can be issued, interim, temporary and final. Sometimes there are more hearings afterward if a final order is issued. A party may ask for modification of the order, or restricting the public’s ability to view records of an order. If there is an allegation that an order has been violated, there also can be hearings for contempt, which can lead to a jail sentence. I can help you at any stage of one of these proceedings.

Interim Peace Order and Interim Protective Order Issuance

Peace and protective order proceedings have as many as three different stages. The first, which occurs if the courts are closed when the order is filed, and only lasts a few days, is the Interim Peace Order or Interim Protective Order. This order is issued by a court commissioner, rather than a judge, and is based upon a written application rather than in court testimony or evidence.

Temporary Peace Order and Temporary Protective Order Hearings

The second phase, or the first if the court is open, is a temporary hearing to determine whether or not there is substantial evidence to show that an order should be issued. In practice, this is an extremely low standard. The standard is lower than for a final hearing, and evidence cannot be offered by the person that the order is filed against, though there is still a lot that I can do at these hearings to represent you. If a temporary peace order or protective order is issued, a final hearing is set for the near future where both parties have an opportunity to present evidence.

Final Peace Order and Final Protective Order Hearings

Final peace order hearings and final protective order hearings are the only place where the respondent has a full chance to be heard and to have their attorney present evidence and witnesses on their behalf. The standard of proof is higher than it is at a temporary hearing, but is still fairly low. The standard is a preponderance of evidence, which means that the judge only has to be 51% sure that the person that filed the order has proved their case. Preponderance is a low standard, making it important to put your best foot forward at these hearings.

Shielding Public Records of a Peace Order or Protective Order

After the case is over, if certain criteria are met, I can remove your peace or protective order from public view in order to protect your reputation. One of the ways that I can assist you is to make sure that your order is resolved in a way that you will be able to shield it after the case is over. I can also often shield old peace order and protective order cases that may have been filed by or against you in the past.