Q:        What is an Emergency Protective Order or Peace Order?

A:        This is a term some people use to refer to Protective Orders and Peace Orders. There are no such terms as Emergency Protective or Emergency Peace Orders in Maryland.  All such orders are obtained the same way and issued on an emergency basis.

Q:        Where do I file a Petition for a Protective Order or Peace Order?

A:        You should file for your Petition in the District Court in the county where the act occurred which caused you to seek the Peace Order.

Q:        How do I get a Protective Order or a Peace Order?

A:        To get a Protective Order or a Peace Order, a petitioner can go to a District Court and provide a few minutes of testimony to a judge or a commissioner. This judge or commissioner will decide whether or not an order should be issued. When you testify, make sure that you provide the judge with the specific facts about what happened to you. You can request a Protective Order for any prior bad acts by a spouse, domestic partner or other person in your household as defined in the statute.  To get a Peace Order, you must file the Petition within 30 days of the offending acts. You may also file a Protective Order in the Circuit Court.

Q:        What information or documents do I need to bring with me when I apply for a Protective Order or a Peace Order?

A:        The only documentation that is required to apply for a Protective Order or a Peace Order is your identification. Other documentation may be helpful but is not required. Consider bringing to Court any relevant police reports, medical reports, photographs, copies of harassing texts or emails, or other evidence you think may be helpful to your case.

Q;        How long will the Protective Order or the Peace Order be effective?

A:        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 Protective Order generally lasts up to a year and a final Peace Order generally lasts up to six months from the date of the final Protective/Peace Order hearing.  Both types of Orders can also be extended for good cause.

Q:        What happens if the person accused of abuse is under the age of 18? Can I still get a Protective or Peace Order?

A:        If the respondent is a minor, then the law requires the offended party to file the case in the Juvenile Court in the county where the abuse occurred. Juvenile Peace Orders are found in 3-8A-19.1, Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article.

Q:        If I own firearms, will I be required to surrender them as soon as I am served with a Protective Order?

A:        You must surrender your firearms if a final Protective Order is entered against you. A judge may, but is not required, to order that you surrender your firearms at the Temporary Protective Order stage if the judge finds that a firearm was used in connection with an act of abuse.

Q:        How do I get a Peace Order or Protective Order expunged?

A:        You cannot get your order expunged.  Under some instances, you may seek shielding by the court. Shielding is the removal of the order from the Maryland Judiciary Case Search, the public court database. Shielding will also remove the court file from public inspection.

Q:        Can I be forced by a restraining order to leave my home even if I am paying my mortgage?

A:        Yes. If your family member or romantic partner has lived in the same house as you for at least 90 days within a one year period before the Petition for protective order is filed, a court can order you to leave your own house.