• Laurie M. Wasserman

The Differences Between a Peace and Protective Order for Abusive Circumstances

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, a time to support survivors, be a voice for victims, and mourn those who have passed at the hands of a partner. At the Law Office of Laurie M. Wasserman, this month is a time for us to remind you that we are here to help when legal actions are necessary to ensure the safety of you or a loved one. For those in Maryland who are suffering from domestic violence, intimate partner violence, or abuse from a stranger, the law offers specific protective measures. In this post, we will focus on two measures in particular: Peace Orders and Protective Orders.


Both Peace Orders and Protective Orders are civil orders issued by a judge. They are different in nature and are used for specific circumstances, which we explain below.




What is a Protective Order?

Protective Orders are issued to protect people from ongoing domestic abuse. These court-issued orders place legal limitations on the actions of abusers in relation to their victims. Failure to follow the guidelines of a Protective Order can lead to arrest, fines, and other legal action.

  • Protective Orders can be requested in either District or Circuit Courts. However, to be eligible for a protective order request, a person must meet one of the following qualifications:

  • The person is either currently married, divorced, or separated from their abuser.

  • The person resides with their abuser.

  • The person is related to their abuser, either by blood or by adoption.

  • The person has engaged in a sexual relationship with them in the past year.

  • The person is a co-parent with their abuser.

  • The person has been sexually assaulted by their abuser.

Protective Orders can help create space between a person and their abuser. Here are a few examples of immediate, short-term restrictions granted by a Protective Order:

  • The abuser is forbidden from contacting you in any form, including in-person, phone calls, texts, emails, and letters.

  • The abuser is ordered to move out of your shared living space.

  • The abuser is ordered to surrender all firearms to law enforcement for the duration of the order.

Following the final Protective Order issued by the court, abusers may also be required to attend regular counseling sessions and provide emergency financial support to their victims and family.


Final Protective Orders generally last one year but recipients of the Protective Order are permitted to file for a modification of their Protective Order for any period before the order’s expiration. These modifications can include requests for an extension or termination of the order.


What is a Peace Order?


Those who do not qualify for a Protective Order may be able to request a court-issued Peace Order instead.


As opposed to Protective Orders, Peace Orders are issued against those who do not qualify as romantic partners, sexual partners, or family members. This can include friends, acquaintances, neighbors, and strangers. Peace Orders can be obtained at the District Court. Before receiving a Peace Order, there must be testimony and evidence supporting the reasoning behind their request to a judge or commissioner.


The Court may grant a Peace Order for the following qualifying actions:

  • Assault

  • False imprisonment

  • Harassment

  • Stalking

  • Trespassing

  • Malicious destruction of property

  • Misuse of telephone or electronic communication

  • Revenge porn

  • Criminal visual surveillance

Peace Orders must be filed within 30 days of the act occurring. Immediate consequences of a Peace Order can involve the victimizer being restricted from contacting or coming within a certain distance of the individual who filed the order. Peace Orders are in effect for up to six months.


We understand that confronting domestic violence, abuse, and harassment can be incredibly challenging and even possibly life-threatening. But professional help and resources are available for those in need. If you require immediate assistance with a domestic abuse situation, please call the local authorities, or National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522. If you are living in the state of Maryland and require safe housing, please contact the House of Ruth for assistance at 800.799.SAFE, or the Family Crisis Center of Baltimore County at 410-285-7496.


For further information on Protective and Peace Orders, contact our office . The experienced family law attorneys at our firm are here to help guide you through the process of filing for a peace or protective order while ensuring your safety.

Read next:

Important Security Measures to Take Before, During, and After Divorce

Domestic Abuse & The Holidays

Domestic Violence Survivors: You Are Not Alone

How Netflix Show “Maid” Compares to Real-Life Domestic Abuse Cases

What to Do if Your Co-Parent is Suffering from a Substance Use Disorder (Or is Suspected of One)

Disclaimer: Opinions and conclusions in these blog posts are solely those of the author unless otherwise indicated. The information contained in this blog is general in nature and is not offered and cannot be considered as legal advice for any particular situation. For legal advice, you should directly consult a lawyer to discuss the specific facts of your matter.


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