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What are protective orders?

In Maryland, a protective order and peace order may prohibit certain conduct. Issuance of these orders is a civil legal matter which may have an impact on the criminal defense ultimately presented in these cases.

A judge issues these orders, which prohibit a person, known as a "respondent," from committing certain acts. Protective orders govern spouses, individuals who had sexual relations within one year or resided together for at least 90 days, relatives or parents of a common child. Other individuals may seek a peace order.

A protective order may be sought for a minor child or vulnerable person. A vulnerable person is an adult who does not have the ability to take care of their daily needs. The person filing this petition must be related to the minor or vulnerable person or reside with them.

A protective or peace order may be filed to protect against acts that cause serious bodily harm, places the petitioner in fear of this harm, assault, rape or sexual offense, attempted rape or sexual offense, false imprisonment and stalking. A peace order may also be sought for criminal harassment, criminal trespassing, malicious property destruction, revenge pornography, visual surveillance and misusing telephone equipment, electronic communication or interactive computer services.

Petitions must be filed within 30 days of the alleged act. A judge will then conduct a temporary hearing and question the petitioner. If there is reasonable cause that the person committed the accused acts, the judge will issue a temporary order that normally lasts for seven days.

A final hearing will be scheduled within seven days from the service of the temporary order. Both parties may present evidence. If the respondent does not attend, the judge may issue an order if it is found that is more likely than not that the respondent committed the alleged offenses.

A final protective order may last up to one year. It may be extended for another six months for good cause and after another hearing. A peace order may remain in effect up to six months if there is good cause and a hearing is held. A permanent final protective order may be issued by a court if the respondent was convicted of certain crimes.

Source: Maryland Judiciary, "Peace and protective orders," Accessed Aug. 7, 2017

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