Are You Seeking a Peace Order?

Has Someone Wrongfully Filed a Peace Order Against You?

WHAT IS A PEACE ORDER?

Under Maryland Law, if someone who you do not live with or do not have an intimate relationship with after a warning to cease contact engages in a course of conduct that is meant to harass, threaten or stalk you, you have the right to file for a peace order.   The purpose of the order is to keep the offending person from contacting you or coming to your home or place of work, as well as your school if you are a student.  A Final peace order remains in effect for a period of six months and can be extended upon request.

WHAT ARE THE GROUNDS UNDER THE MARYLAND COURTS AND JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS ARTICLE FOR  A COURT TO ENTER A PEACE ORDER?

Stalking:

Stalking means a malicious course of conduct that includes approaching or pursuing another where:

the person intends to place or knows or reasonably should have known the conduct would place another in reasonable fear:

  1. of serious bodily injury;
  2. of an assault in any degree;
  3. of rape or sexual offense as defined by §§ 3-303 through 3-308 of this title or attempted rape or sexual offense in any degree;
  4. of false imprisonment; or
  5. of death; or,

that a third person likely will suffer any of the acts listed in item 1 of this item; or

the person intends to cause or knows or reasonably should have known that the conduct would cause serious emotional distress to another; and

“stalking” includes conduct described in item (1) of this subsection that occurs:

in person:

by electronic communication: texting, emailing, posting on social media sites, and direct messaging; or

through the use of a device that can pinpoint or track the location of another without the person’s knowledge or consent.

Threats of imminent serious bodily harm or injury:

reckless or intentional behavior which the person filing reasonably believes will cause serious bodily harm or injury to them;

Assault (3 types):

  1. Intent to frighten someone – placing victim in reasonable fear of being hit;
  2. attempted battery – trying to hurt or touch someone against their wishes, but not making contact;
  3. battery, unlawful touching

False imprisonment:

False imprisonment occurs when a person intentionally and illegally restrains another person’s ability to move freely.

Great Atl. & Pac. Tea Co. v. Paul, 256 Md. 643, 654, 261 A.2d 731, 738 (1970),: “the necessary elements of a case for false imprisonment are a deprivation of the liberty of another without his consent and without legal justification.

Revenge Pornography:

The posting of intimate partners’ genitalia or performance of a sexual act without permission, where the victim’s face is identifiable, and where the victim had an expectation of privacy.

Trespass:

Entering onto someone else’s property or refusing to leave after being told (by the owner or owner’s agent) not to do so.

Entering upon property where a “no trespassing sign” has been posted.

Malicious destruction of property:

Not theft of property, only intentional or reckless destruction of property.

Misuse of telephone facilities or equipment:

Using a telephone to alarm, annoy, or torment another, repeated calls with the intent to annoy or torment another, or an obscene lewd or filthy comment made over the phone to another.

Misuse of electronic communications:

Using a computer for email, using text messaging, a social media application, a fax machine, or any other Internet-based communication tool to build a fake social media profile to pose as another or pose as another (the list is not exhaustive)

We can walk you through the process of securing or appealing a peace order from a District Court judge, District Court commissioner, or Circuit Court judge. You may also wish to know the potential traps you could face in Court as well as the effect these orders can have on your immigration status or with your top secret and secret security clearances.

Process for Filing a Petition for Peace Order

Steps in the Process…

Petitioners (filers):

To get a peace order, a petitioner must appear before a Judge or Commissioner of the District Court and provide a few minutes of testimony. The judge or commissioner will decide whether or not an order should be issued. Before applying for one of these orders, you should review the relevant statutes (laws) (§3-1501, Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article) to determine whether you are entitled to receive a peace order. In addition, make sure that you provide the judge with the specific facts about what happened to you. Also, be sure that the acts that you are complaining about occurred within the time period required for filing under the law, which is within 30 days of filing a Petition for Peace Order.

Quick Tips

If you have been injured, you should provide photographs or medical reports of your injuries to the judge. In addition, you should preserve any electronic evidence that is relevant to your case. This may include text messages or emails.

Once the temporary order is issued, the court gives it to local law enforcement to be served on the respondent. The order becomes effective once it is served, and it prohibits the respondent from contacting the petitioner. A final hearing is scheduled a week later, where the parties’ case is then heard by a judge who makes a final decision. If the judge finds by clear and convincing evidence that the respondent committed assault or other acts, made threats, stalked, or harassed the petitioner, then a final order is issued.

Respondents:

If you have been named as a respondent in a peace order case, remember that you could also be facing criminal charges for the same acts. In addition, if the police attempt to interview you, they may well use whatever information or explanations you give them against you in either the criminal or restraining order case.

There are many things that a respondent should know before attempting to handle a peace order.

In addition, Maryland Courts post peace order cases on the Maryland case search. Case search is a public database that lists all cases pending in the Maryland court system;

Impacts of a peace order against you

Any security clearance you hold may affected by the filing of either a peace order against you;

Landlords may be unwilling to rent to you if you are the respondent in a peace order;

Employers may be reluctant to hire you;

Banks may choose not to extend credit to you;

If you are a party in a domestic relations case, any custody arrangement with your child could be jeopardized;

A Peace Order could trigger immigration consequences;

All statements you make in the peace order hearings can be used against you if police later charge you with a crime in the same matter or a related matter.

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