What if you are the person falsely accused of harassment who is served with a temporary peace order in Maryland?  Does this go on your “record”?

Under Maryland law, anyone may petition a court or commissioner to request a halt to what they believe is abusive, threatening, harmful, or harassing behavior as defined in Md. Courts & Judicial Proceedings Code Ann. § 3-1503.  If the judge or commissioner finds that there are reasonable grounds to grant the Petition, an interim peace order will be issued against the suspected offender.  see:  https://www.emdenlaw.com/see-my-new-peace-order-ebook/

Once the Petition is filed, a case number is assigned and the case is made public on Maryland Judiciary Case Search which is a public database for all to view.  As a result, a public record is created with your name on it.  If an interim (or temporary) peace order is issued, a judge or commissioner can order you to stop the behavior alleged in the petition as well as refrain from contacting the Petitioner in any way or from entering the Petitioner’s home, school, or place of business.  If after the hearing, the Court grants a final peace order, that information will also be made public on the Maryland Judiciary Case Search website.  

To avoid the effect of a “record”, you should challenge and try to defeat the petition.  If you are successful, there are procedures for shielding civil cases in Maryland by filing a request to shield the existence of the peace order case from public view.  However, if you consent to the entry of a peace order or you fight but lose, then the entry of this order will remain on the public database.

How then do you get the “record” off your record?  If you had consented to the peace order, you may take advantage of provisions allowing the shielding of civil cases in Maryland by filing a request to remove the order from your record after six months.  You can find a template of a petition to shield here: https://www.courts.state.md.us/district/forms.

If you did not consent, fought, but lost, then the entry of the peace order will remain forever.

Unfortunately for many on the losing side, the entry of a peace order may not be a good thing.  A peace order Maryland can carry with it a  number of consequences.  It can remain in effect for up to six months.  When an interim or final peace order is issued, local law enforcement is informed.  Even though a peace order is considered civil, not a criminal, the matter you can be subject to arrest and face criminal charges if a judge finds that you have violated a peace order.

The record of an interim or final peace order can carry collateral consequences as well.  Since the allegation is that you have engaged in illegal behavior, the order could have an effect on employment, especially if you have a security clearance, employment prospects as well as your ability to attend school.  In some instances, it could affect where you can live.  

If you are served with a peace order, you should take it seriously and seek legal advice. Even if you believe the allegations are baseless, you need to respond to the Petition and respond to any communications from the Court.  Do not ignore it by deciding not to show up in court for your case.

Essentially a peace order is a statement from the Court that it believes that you have engaged in conduct that was harmful, abusive, harassing or threatening in nature, and it is also a warning that you must cease the behavior.  There are many consequences to a peace order, not the least is that it does create a negative record.  With thoughtful preparation, you can avoid the risks of winding up with a negative record.