Files on table titled "Protective Order"

Protective Orders vs. Peace Orders in Maryland

patrickcrawford | June 12, 2023

If there is someone in your life that threatens your safety, it may be time for you to consider filing for a restraining order. Based on the type of restraining order, you will have temporary or permanent protection.

The Law Office of Patrick Crawford has assisted many clients in obtaining restraining orders, both protective orders and peace orders. Below is an outline of the differences and process of obtaining each type.

Worried woman

Restraining Orders in Maryland

A restraining order is a court order that provides protection for a victim of physical or sexual abuse. 

The person seeking a restraining order is referred to as the petitioner (person eligible for relief), while the abuser is the respondent.

Maryland had two types of restraining orders: protective orders and peace orders. Your relationship with the abuser will determine which type of restraining order you are eligible to receive.


Protective Orders

According to Maryland Code, Family Law § 4-501, a person is eligible for a protective order if they are:

  • A current or former spouse of the abuser (respondent);
  • A cohabitant of the respondent;
  • A person related to the respondent by blood, marriage, or adoption;
  • A parent, stepparent, child, or stepchild of the respondent or person eligible for relief;
  • A person who resides (or resided) with the respondent or person eligible for relief for at least 90 days within one (1) year before the filing of the petition;
  • A vulnerable adult;
  • A person who has a child in common with the respondent;
  • A person who had a sexual relationship with the respondent within one (1) year before filing for relief; or
  • A person who alleges that within six (6) months before the filing of the petition, the respondent committed rape or a sexual offense or attempted rape or sexual offense.

A protective order is reserved for someone who has been a victim of domestic abuse. To qualify for a protective order, the abuse must be:

  • An act that causes serious bodily harm
  • An act that causes a person fear of imminent serious bodily harm or threatens serious bodily harm
  • Assault
  • Rape or Sexual Assault
  • False imprisonment
  • Mental injury to a minor child
  • Stalking
  • Revenge porn

Peace Orders

If you are an abuse victim but do not qualify for a protective order, then you may be able to apply for a peace order.

If the abuse took place at work, then your employer may be able to apply on your behalf. The abuse must be in the form of threats or acts of violence.

In order to meet the requirements for a peace order, the abuse must be:

  • An act that causes serious bodily harm;
  • An act that causes the petitioner, or the petitioner’s employee, in fear of imminent serious bodily harm;
  • Assault;
  • False imprisonment;
  • Harassment;
  • Stalking;
  • Trespass (Title 6, Subtitle 4 of the Criminal Law Article)
  • Malicious destruction of property
  • Misuse of telephone facilities and equipment or electronic communication, or interactive computer service
  • Revenge porn
  • Visual surveillance

Types of Legal Relief

Whether you file for a protective order or peace order, the court will issue an order that relieves you from potential harm. 

In a peace order, the court will only order a minimum amount of relief to protect you. However, should you qualify for a protective order, you will receive additional relief.

In issuing a protective order, the court may order any or all of the following relief:

  • Respondent to end all contact with the petitioner
  • Respondent is to refrain from threatening or committing any abuse
  • The respondent must leave home if living with the petitioner 


If married and living together at the time of the abuse; OR if not married, but living together during the time of the abuse AND petitioner’s name is on the deed to the house or on the apartment lease OR petitioner lived with the respondent for at least ninety (90) days within the past year:

  • Petitioner to receive temporary custody of children
  • Temporary visitation
  • Respondent is to pay all filing fees and court costs
  • Counseling
  • Award of emergency family maintenance
  • Any other relief the judge determines necessary to protect the petitioner from abuse


Comparatively, in issuing a peace order, a judge may order the following relief:

  • Respondent to end all contact with the petitioner
  • Respondent is to refrain from threatening or committing any abuse
  • Respondent to stay away from petitioner’s home, place of employment, or school
  • Counseling
  • Respondent is to pay all filing fees and court costs


Process of Obtaining Peace and Protective Orders

The following steps should be taken when filing a petition with a Maryland court:

Step #1: Complete the correct petition

  • A person seeking a protective order can file in either District Court or circuit court, while a peace order can only be issued in District Court.
  • The appropriate forms can be found on the Maryland Courts website.

Step #2: File the petition

  • During normal business hours, the petition can be filed in court. The petition must be against a person that is 18 years or older.
  • Outside normal business hours, the District Court commissioner may issue an Interim Peace Order or Interim Protective Order. 
  • An Interim Order is put into effect when a law enforcement officer issues the order upon the respondent, called service of process. 
  • The Interim Order will last until a judge is able to hear your case and issue a Temporary Order.
  • Upon filing your petition, you will be directed into a courtroom for a judge to hear your case.

Step #3: Appear for a temporary hearing

  • At the temporary hearing, you will have to answer questions under oath in the presence of a judge.
  • Based on your responses, if a judge believes that the allegations made in the petition are true, he or she will issue a temporary order. (The judge will issue a peace order if they think the respondent is likely to commit abusive acts again).
  • The temporary order usually lasts for a period of seven (7) days unless extended by a judge.
  • The order goes into effect once law enforcement serves the respondent.

Step #4: Appear for a final hearing

  • A final hearing is usually scheduled within seven (7) days after the order is served.
  • At the hearing, both sides will present evidence. 
  • The court will issue a final order if the judge believes that it is “more likely than not” that the abuser committed the alleged act. This is known as the preponderance of the evidence standard.

Protective Orders

  • The court may grant a Final Protective Order for up to one (1) year. If the court finds good cause, it may extend this order an additional six (6) months following another hearing.
  • In some cases, a Final Protective Order can last up to two (2) years. This may be granted if the petitioner previously obtained a Final Protective Order that lasted at least six (6) months, AND within one (1) year of its expiration, the abuser consents to the order OR commits an act of abuse against the petitioner. 
  • The court will issue a Permanent Protective Order if:
  • As requested by the petitioner, as long as there was a previous Interim, Temporary, or Final Protective Order AND
  • The respondent was convicted and sentenced to five (5) years in jail, of which the respondent served at least one (1) year. 

The act which placed the respondent in jail can be the same act that led to the issuance of the order or another act against the petitioner during the time the order was in effect.

Peace Orders

  • A peace order may be granted to last up to six (6) months and may be extended another six (6) months if there is good cause.
  • Both parties will receive notice, and a hearing will be scheduled.

How Long Do I Have to File a Protective or Peace Order?

There are different regulations regarding protective orders and peace orders.

In a protective order, there is no time limit, but in a peace order, you only have thirty (30) days after the respondent’s abusive act to file.

Patrick is a protective order lawyer who can answer any questions you may have. Attorney Crawford understands the Maryland legal system, and he will work with you to achieve the best possible results.

An Annapolis Protective Order Lawyer Serving You

Whether you are seeking a protective order or peace order for yourself or for your child, you need legal assistance. Patrick Crawford has guided many clients through the restraining order process, giving them both protection and comfort. 

Keeping your family safe is your number one concern. When you are working with Patrick, your case will take priority, no matter how simple or complicated it may be. Contact the office today to schedule your initial consultation.

How Can Patrick Help You?

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