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Schlaich & Thompson Chartered Bel Air Family, Divorce & Criminal Lawyer

Protective Orders vs. Peace Orders in Maryland


Domestic violence and similar forms of abuse represent a terrible intersection of criminal and family law. In order to protect victims from harm, Maryland state law allows the courts to issue protective and peace orders. Although the eligibility for each order is different, both orders enable Maryland judges to end abuse or harassment.

Eligibility for Protective Orders in Maryland

A protective order is a legal command from a Maryland court that directs a person to refrain from abuse or harassment. However, this type of order is only available to certain victims who have a close relationship with the alleged perpetrator.

Specifically, protective orders are limited to situations where the victim and the perpetrator are:

  • Married or were formerly married;
  • Related by adoption, blood, or marriage;
  • Significant others who lived together at least 90 days in the past year;
  • Related as parent-child or stepparent-stepchild and lived together 90 days in the past year;
  • Parents of a common child;
  • Related as caretaker-vulnerable adult; or
  • Engaged in a sexual relationship in the past year.

Interim/Temporary vs. Final Protective Orders

There are two types of protective orders under Maryland state law: Interim/Temporary and Final. An interim or temporary protective order allows a judge to order the alleged perpetrator to:

  • Stop any current abuse and refrain from future abuse;
  • Refrain from contacting the victim at work, home, or school;
  • Leave or stay out of the victim’s domicile, even if the perpetrator lives there too;
  • Relinquish custody rights temporarily of any children or pets shared with the victim;

A final protective order allows a judge to issue any of the orders above on a long-term basis. Additionally, a final protective order enables a judge to:

  • Award emergency family maintenance, which is a combination of alimony and child support payments;
  • Create a temporary child visitation schedule for the perpetrator;
  • Assign use and possession of a residence and/or vehicle;
  • Require that either party attend counseling sessions;
  • Command that the perpetrator relinquish all firearms;
  • Direct the perpetrator to pay relevant legal fees and court costs; and
  • Order other types of relief necessary to protect the victim.

Eligibility for Peace Orders in Maryland

Unlike protective orders, peace orders do not require a familial or close relationship between the victim and alleged perpetrator. Even if the victim and alleged perpetrator are complete strangers, a peace order allows the Maryland courts to step in and protect the victim from:

  • Abuse;
  • Harassment;
  • Stalking;
  • Trespass; or
  • Malicious destruction of property.

There is an important legal distinction concerning eligibility for a peace order. If a person qualifies for a protective order, then they are ineligible for a peace order. Essentially, an abuse victim is limited to either a protective or a peace order. They cannot pursue both options at the same time.

Interim/Temporary vs. Final Peace Orders

As with protective orders, there are two variations of peace orders under Maryland state law: Interim/Temporary and Permanent. In an interim or temporary peace order, a judge may order the alleged perpetrator to:

  • Cease any current abuse and desist from future abuse; and
  • Refrain from contacting the victim at work, home, or school.

In a final peace order, a judge is allowed to establish any of the requirements above. Moreover, a final peace order also makes it possible for a judge to:

  • Require that either party attend counseling sessions;
  • Command that both parties participate in mediation proceedings; and
  • Direct the perpetrator to pay relevant legal fees and court costs.

Contact Us Today for Help

If you have legal questions about protective or peace orders in Maryland, it can be exceedingly practical to speak with a knowledgeable family law attorney. Based in Bel Air, Maryland, the attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered have more than 60 years of combined legal experience in family and criminal law, including protective and peace orders. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.

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