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Should I Consent to a Peace or Protective Order in Maryland?

Posted by Kathryn Batey | Oct 11, 2023 | 0 Comments

As with all great legal questions, the answer is "It Depends." There are two different types of “no contact” orders that can be filed in the state of Maryland:

Protective Orders

A Protective Order, which is governed by Maryland Family Law § 4-501-§4-512, is an order issued by a judge to protect someone who has been the victim of domestic abuse. In order to file a protective order in Maryland, the person filing must show that the alleged abuser is someone who:

  • They were married, divorced, or separated from OR
  • Is related to them by blood, adoption or marriage OR
  • Is someone they have had a sexual relationship with for at least 90 days in the past year OR
  • Is someone that has sexually assaulted or raped them in the last year.

Peace Orders

A Peace Order, which is governed by Maryland Code of Courts and Judicial Proceedings § 3-1501, can be filed by anyone who does not qualify to file for a protective order under the conditions listed above.

To file for a protective order, a person must list out evidence of one of the following acts:

  • An act causing severe bodily harm
  • An act putting them in fear of imminent sever physical harm
  • Assault in any degree
  • False imprisonment
  • Harassment
  • Stalking
  • Trespassing
  • Malicious destruction of Property
  • Telephone equipment of facilities misuse
  • Electronic equipment of interactive computer service misuse (social media).
  • Revenge Porn
  • Visual surveillance

Regardless of which type of order is filed, a judge will review the petition and if there is enough evidence, issue a temporary protective order OR a temporary peace order. In both cases, a Final Hearing will be set in which both sides can present evidence prior to a judge issuing a Final Order. For Peace Orders, a final order can last up to 6 months, for Protective Orders, it can last up to one year. These hearings are scheduled quickly, so if you have been served with a temporary order, contact Safe Harbor Criminal Defense right away. 

Final Peace or Protective Order Hearings

At a Final hearing, each side can present evidence to the judge of the reasons for or against the Peace or Protective Order. A judge will hear from witnesses, review evidence, and determine if there is proof by a Preponderance of the Evidence. That means that a judge just has to find it is more likely than not that the alleged abuse occurred.

The Maryland Rules of Evidence apply at a Final Protective or Peace Order hearing, so the judge can decline to review videos, text messages, or even hear from certain witnesses if they haven't been properly admitted according to the Rules. An attorney can help ensure that all of your evidence is heard and presented to the Judge.

Should I Consent to the Order?

     If a Peace or Protective Order has been filed against you, you have the option to consent to the filing of the Final Order. If you consent to a peace or protective order, you are consenting to the relief requested in the order, which can include everything from simply staying away from a certain individual to having to vacate a home, surrender firearms, and potential custody arrangements. A person who consents to the order may request to shield the record once the order has expired, following certain findings by a Judge.  Shielding the record would prevent the general public and most entities from seeing that an order was ever filed, similar to expunging a criminal case. Additionally, consenting to the order prevents a Judge from making findings of abuse or that either party acted as an aggressor, which can be helpful in a criminal case or for preventing additional collateral consequences. 

    Whether or not you should consent to a Peace or a Protective Order is very dependent on your individual circumstances – your line of work, any security clearances or licenses you hold, whether you have pending criminal charges relating to the same events, along with many other personalized considerations.

At Safe Harbor Criminal Defense, we can help walk you through what option best protects your welfare and your interests, and represent you in the courtroom to make sure your side of the story is presented. If you or your loved one has been served with a Peace or Protective Order, please Contact Us Today for a FREE 30 minute consultation.

About the Author

Kathryn Batey

Kathryn Batey, the owner and firm practioner, has spent the entirety of her legal career defending clients against the justice system.  Kathryn graduated from American University's Washington College of law in 2012 and went to work immediately for the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, where...


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