Protective orders vs. peace orders

August 27, 2011

There are different criteria for obtaining peace orders and protective orders, according to the Maryland Judiciary pamphlet "Peace and Protective Orders."

"Protective orders generally apply to people in domestic relationships," while peace orders apply to other relationships, such as feuding neighbors, abusive boyfriend or a co-worker who harasses, the pamphlet states.

Protective orders

Any of the following circumstances would enable a person to file for a protective order:

  • Being a current or former spouse of the respondent.
  • Living with the respondent for at least 90 days in the past year.
  • Being related to the respondent by blood, marriage or adoption.
  • Having a child with the respondent.
A person also can file for a protective order on behalf of a child or vulnerable adult to whom they are related or with whom they live.

For a judge to grant an order, the petitioner has to convince a court commissioner or district court judge that one or more acts were committed by the abusive partner, including physical or sexual assaults, stalking and false imprisonment, the pamphlet states.

Peace orders

Peace orders apply to relationships that the law does not consider domestic — people who have been dating, but not living together, neighbors, co-workers or acquaintances, the pamphlet states.

In the case of a peace order, the applicant must convince the commissioner or district court judge that they have been subject to acts such as criminal harassment, criminal trespass or malicious destruction of property during the previous 30 days, according to the pamphlet.


The accused party in a peace order or protective order can be ordered to stop committing or threatening abuse, and to stay away from and have no contact with the victim.

A first offense for violating a protective order carries a maximum sentence of 90 days, while a second offense can put the offender behind bars for up to a year, according to Maryland law.

Failing to comply with a peace order carries a maximum sentence of 90 days and a fine of $1,000.
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