When a person in Maryland feels like they are being threatened, harassed, or abused by another person, there are two ways the person can petition a court for relief:  through a peace order or a protective order.  But what is the difference?

A Protective Order is a type of restraining order which can be issued by a Judge in order to protect a victim from an alleged abuser.  Protective orders may be filed at any time by the person abused or threatened with violence by a person who is either the spouse, ex-spouse, domestic partner, someone with whom he/she shares a child, someone he/she dated or had a sexual relationship with or are a current or ex-boyfriend or girlfriend of the person seeking protection from the court.  The petitioner can allege any prior actions by the alleged abuser and if an Order is entered, it is in effect for up to one year.

Protective Orders offer many kinds of protection for the Petitioner.  These can include:

  • Establish temporary visitation with children.
  • Award emergency family maintenance.
  • Award use and possession of jointly titled car.
  • Order counseling.
  • Order the abuser to surrender all firearms.
  • Order the abuser to pay filing fees and court costs.
  • Order any other relief that the Judge determines is necessary to protect a person eligible for relief from abuse.

If the abuser is someone who doesn’t fit into any of the categories for a Protective Order, such as a friend, acquaintance, neighbor, or a complete stranger, then you should file for a Peace Order.  This is also a type of restraining order which can be issued by a Judge in order to protect a victim from an alleged abuser.  Peace orders must be filed by the person abused within 30 days of the time the alleged abuser has committed a prohibited act as defined in the statute.  If an Order is entered, it can be in effect for up to six months.

Peace orders also offer many kinds of protection for the Petitioner. These can include:

  • Order the respondent to refrain from committing or threatening to commit any abusive act against the petitioner.
  • Order the respondent to refrain from contacting, attempting to contact, or harassing the petitioner.
  • Order the respondent to refrain from entering the residence of the petitioner.
  • Order the respondent to remain away from the place of employment, school, or temporary residence of the petitioner.
  • Direct either party to participate in professionally supervised counseling or, if the parties are amenable, mediation.
  • Order either party to pay filing fees and court costs.

Peace Orders and Protective Orders are important legal remedies for individuals who are suffering abuse, harassment or threatening behavior by another.