Restraining Orders in Maryland: The Domestic Violence Protective Order and the Peace Order

In Maryland a “restraining order” refers to a peace order or a protective order. A restraining order is a legal order issued by a state court which requires one person to stop harming another. In Maryland, there are several types of restraining orders. If you are dealing with a violent or dangerous spouse, you need to take action immediately. Although many people can act like bullies when they are angry, there is a world of difference between someone who says hurtful things and someone who will hurt you. If you believe that you are or your children are in danger, you need to speak with a lawyer competent in handling family matters before things get worse. A restraining order can very well provide you with the protection you need.
If you have a lawyer, he or she needs to be the first person you go to. They can fill out the papers and take them to the judge in order to receive the restraining order. If you do not have a lawyer, you can still receive the restraining order.
The following are the types of domestic violence that enable you to get a protective order. Maryland law defines “abuse” as the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between “family or household members.”
• Assault
• An act that places a person in fear of imminent serious bodily harm
• An act that causes serious bodily harm
• Rape or a sexual offence
• Attempted rape or sexual offense
• Stalking
• False imprisonment, such as interference with freedom, physically keeping you from leaving your home or kidnapping you.

A Protective Order (also known as a “Domestic Violence Protective Order,” or “DVPO”) is an order made by a civil court to protect a person from physical pain or injury or threat of physical pain or injury. There are three types of protective orders:
Interim protective orders. If you are in immediate danger of abuse and the court is closed, you may get an interim order by going to the nearest District Court commissioner. An interim order goes into effect once the respondent is served by a law enforcement officer. The interim order lasts until a judge holds a temporary hearing.
Temporary (ex parte) protective orders. When you go to court to file for a final protective order, you can also ask for a Temporary order. This can be done without a full court hearing and without your abuser present. Your abuser is notified that you have an order against him as soon as a Temporary order is issued. The Temporary order is in effect for 7 days after service of the order, at which point a full court hearing will be held for a final protective order. The judge may extend the temporary order as needed, but not to more than 30 days.
Final protective orders. A final protective order can be issued only after a full court hearing, where you and the abuser both tell your sides of the story to a judge. You must attend that hearing. If you do not go to the hearing, your temporary order may expire and you will have to start the process over. A final protective order will last up to one year, unless otherwise stated. Orders may also be extended

In a Protective Order, a judge may order your abuser to:
• Stay away from you and your children;
• Stay away from you and your children’s residence, work place, school, day care, friends’ homes, any place where you are seeking shelter, etc.;
• Stop threatening or hurting you;
• Stop contacting or harassing you;
• Move out of the house (if you shared it) and not return;
• Surrender to the sheriff’s office any weapon the abuser possesses;
• Pay for your filing fees and legal fees.
• The Protection Order can also:
• Give you possession of shared property (such as a house or car) except for the abuser’s personal property;
• Award you temporary custody of a minor child, order the abuser to pay temporary child support, and establish temporary visitation;
• Order your abuser to help support you and your children financially;
• Order the abuser to attend treatment programs;
• Other reasonable requests that the judge believes are necessary in order for you to be free from the violence.

A peace order is a civil protection order that you can file for in district court, which is supposed to help protect you from someone who is abusing you. There are three types of peace orders:
Interim peace orders. You would file for an interim peace order only when the district court clerk’s office is NOT open for business (for example, on the weekends, evenings, or holidays). This order would last only until the hearing for a temporary peace order, which would generally be held on the next day that the district court is open or the day after that. The date for the temporary peace order hearing should be written on the interim order.

Temporary peace orders. When you file a petition for a peace order, the judge can hold a hearing for a temporary order. The respondent may or may not be present. The order is effective for up to 7 days after the order is served (but it can be extended for up to 30 days if you cannot serve him within those 7 days or for any other good reason). The order will last until the hearing on the final peace order.
Final peace orders. The respondent has the opportunity to be present at the final peace order hearing. A final peace order can last for up to 6 months.

If you meet the relationship requirement, you can file for a peace order if one or more of the following acts have happened within 30 days before you file for the order:
• An act that causes serious bodily harm;
• An act that places you in fear of immediate serious bodily harm;
• Assault in any degree;
• Attempted or actual rape or sexual offense;
• False imprisonment;
• Harassment;
• Stalking;
• Trespass; and
• Malicious destruction of property.

Interim, temporary and final peace orders can order the respondent to:

• Stop committing or threatening to commit an act of abuse against you;
• Stop contacting, attempting to contact, or harassing you;
• Stay away from your home, place of employment, school or temporary residence
Additionally, only a final peace order can order:
• You or the respondent to participate in professionally supervised counseling;
• You and the respondent to go to mediation, but only of you both agree to it;
• Order you or the respondent to pay the filing fees and costs of the proceeding.

The relationships that could qualify you for a peace order include any relationship that does not fall under the category to get a domestic violence protective order. So, if you are eligible to file a domestic protection order, you are not eligible for a peace order.