What acts of abuse would qualify me for a peace order?
You can file for a peace order if one or more of the following acts has 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;
- false imprisonment;
- malicious destruction of property
- misuse of telephone facilities and equipment;
- misuse of electronic communication or interactive computer service;
- revenge porn;
- visual surveillance;
- visual surveillance with prurient intent; or
- camera surveillance.1
An employer can file for a peace order if any of the above acts happened to their employee at the employee’s workplace. However, the employer has to notify the employee before filing the petition. The employer cannot retaliate against an employee who doesn’t want to provide information or testify in court.2
Note: You can file in Maryland if one of the above acts happened in Maryland or if you or your employee live in Maryland but the act(s) happened in another state.3
1 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1503(a)(1)
2 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1503(e)(1), (e)(3)
3 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1503(a)(2)
What types of peace orders are there? How long do they last?
There are three types of peace orders. Each can be issued if the judge believes that you have been abused by the person you are filing against and that the abuser is likely to abuse you again in the future.1
Interim peace orders. If you wish to file for a peace order but the district court clerk’s office is closed, you can file for an interim order by going to the nearest District Court commissioner.2 The interim peace order lasts until:
- a judge holds a temporary peace order hearing (the first or second day on which a District Court judge is working after the order is issued); or
- the end of the second business day that the court clerk’s office is open after the order is issued, whichever comes sooner.3
Note: Even if you are denied an interim peace order, you can still apply for a temporary or final peace order.4
Temporary peace orders. When you go to court during normal court hours to file for a final peace order, you can ask for a temporary peace order, which can be issued the same day without the abuser present (ex parte).5 The order is effective when it is served.6 The temporary order is in effect for up to 7 days after service of the order. (If the court is closed on the day on which the temporary peace order is due to expire, it is effective until the second day on which the court is open, by which time the court should hold a final peace order hearing.) However, the judge may extend the temporary order to allow for service of the order or for another good reason, but not to more than 30 days.7 Note: If the respondent is at the hearing, the judge may go ahead and hold a hearing for a final peace order instead of a temporary one if you and the respondent agree to this.8
Final peace orders. The respondent has the opportunity to be present at the final peace order hearing to object to the order - and each of you can present evidence, testimony, witnesses, etc., to prove your case. The order can last for up to 6 months but can be extended.9 See Can I modify, cancel or extend my peace order? for more information.
1 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. §§ 3-1503.1(b); 3-1504(a)(1); 3-1505(c)(1)(ii)
2 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1503.1(a); “Peace and Protective Orders” Brochure, MD Judiciary
3 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1503.1(g), (d)(1)(ii)
4 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1503.1(h)
5 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1504(a)(1)
6 See generally MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1504(b); “Peace and Protective Orders” Brochure, MD Judiciary
7 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1504(c)
8 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1504(d)
9 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. §§ 3-1505(a),(c)(1)(ii),(f); 3-1506(a)(2)
What protections can I get in a peace order?
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; and
- stay away from your home, place of employment, school, or temporary residence.1
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 if you both agree to it; and
- you or the respondent to pay the filing fees and costs of the proceeding.2
1 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. §§ 3-1503.1(c)(2); 3-1504(a)(2); 3-1505(d)(1)
2 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1505(d)(1)
Am I eligible for a peace order?
Peace orders are meant to protect people who do not qualify for a domestic violence protective order. If you are eligible to file for a domestic violence protective order, you are not eligible for a peace order.1 (To see if you would qualify for domestic violence protective order, go to Who can get a protective order?)
Here are a few examples of relationships that may qualify you for a peace order:
- a neighbor;
- a co-worker;
- an acquaintance; or
- a stranger.1
1“Peace and Protective Orders” Brochure,” MD Judiciary
Can I file for a peace order against a minor?
You can file for a peace order against a minor, but you will go through a different process. To file against a minor respondent, you first go to the Department of Juvenile Services, which is usually an office in the courthouse. You may need to ask the court clerk where the Department of Juvenile Services is located within the court.
You will use the same peace order forms. The Department of Juvenile Services will review your petition before a case can be started against a minor. If your petition is accepted, then the case will proceed regularly, but it will not be available in public records.1
1 MD Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-8A-10(c), (d)
If the abuser lives in a different state, can I still get an order against him/her?
When you and the abuser live in different states, the judge may not have “personal jurisdiction” (power) over an out-of-state abuser. This means that the court may not be able to grant an order against him/her.
There are a few ways that a court can have personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state abuser:
- The abuser has a substantial connection to your state. Perhaps the abuser regularly travels to your state to visit you, for business, to see extended family, or the abuser lived in your state and recently fled.
- One of the acts of abuse “happened” in your state. Perhaps the abuser sends you threatening texts or harassing phone calls from another state but you read the messages or answer the calls while you are in your state. The judge could decide that the abuse “happened” to you while you were in your state. It may also be possible that the abuser was in your state when s/he abused you s/he but has since left the state.
- If you file your petition and the abuser gets served with the court petition while s/he is in your state, this is another way for the court to get jurisdiction.
However, even if none of the above apply to your situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get an order. If you file, you may be granted an order on consent or the judge may find other circumstances that allow the order to be granted.
You can read more about personal jurisdiction in our Court System Basics - Personal Jurisdiction section.
Note: If the judge in your state refuses to issue an order, you can file for an order in the courthouse in the state where the abuser lives. However, remember that you will likely need to file the petition in person and attend various court dates, which could be difficult if the abuser’s state is far away.