When you’d like to stop someone from harassing you with annoying or dangerous conduct, the law requires that you first tell them to stop before you can file a peace order against them. An effective and relatively inexpensive way to do this is to send that person a cease and desist letter.
What is a cease and desist letter?
A cease and desist letter is a letter which either you or a lawyer writes to someone which (1) outlines their offending behavior, (2) informs them of the legal reason that their behavior violates the law, and (3) then demands that the behavior cease to avoid legal action.
In which kinds of cases should you consider sending someone a cease and desist letter?
Anyone whose obnoxious behavior is impacting your life may be the subject of a cease and desist letter.
Some examples include:
Where a neighbor is constantly harassing you because of some imagined slight;
Where a neighbor deliberately makes noise as revenge against you;
Where an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend tyrannizes you by writing harsh comments about you on the Internet;
Where a former partner sends you countless text messages or places countless phone calls to you simply because you have decided to end your relationship with them.
Where someone has made threats to hurt you because they are unhappy with you.
If their behavior still continues despite your having sent them a strongly worded cease and desist letter, you still may seek much stronger remedies against them in court, like obtaining a restraining order.
Sending a Cease and Desist Letter in Maryland
In Maryland, our harassment law requires the victim to request the harasser to stop the harassment before the victim has the right to file a restraining order in Court.
§ 3-803. Harassment
Maryland Law provides that:
(a) A person may not follow another in or about a public place or maliciously engage in a course of conduct that alarms or seriously annoys the other:
- with the intent to harass, alarm, or annoy the other;
- after receiving a reasonable warning or request to stop by or on behalf of the other; and
- without a legal purpose.
This letter often comes at a lower cost than the cost of hiring an attorney to pursue a restraining order issued by a judge. (For information on filing a Peace Order, see this guide.)
Your goal in sending a cease and desist letter is to scare someone into changing their behavior to avoid the time and expense of answering to a restraining order in court. I, for example, often use a messenger to deliver this letter in person to accomplish the maximum effect. Using an attorney to author this letter might also influence the offender to stop harassing you. They will think that if you went to the expense and time of retaining a lawyer, then you might be more likely to take legal action against them in court of law.
Nothing in life is guaranteed, Holding someone accountable for persisting in obnoxious or harassing behavior, improves your chances of regaining your peace of mind.
For help with cease and desist letters, schedule an appointment below.