Protective Orders v. Peace Orders - What's the Difference?
Understand Your Eligibility.
Protective OrdersPersons eligible for a Protective Order, referred to as the "petitioner," include the current or former spouse of the individual against whom the order is sought (a.k.a. the "respondent"); a cohabitant of the respondent; a person related to the respondent by blood, marriage or adoption, or a person who resides or resided with the respondent or person eligible for relief for at least 90 days within 1 year before requesting the Order. A petition for an Protective Order can be filed with a court Commissioner when neither the office of the clerk of the district or circuit court is open. The "interim" Protective Order issued by a Commissioner must be considered by a Judge on a "temporary" Protective Order (TPO) hearing date on the first or second day on which a District Court judge is sitting after the interim order is issued. If a judge finds reasonable grounds to believe any person eligible for relief has been abused, the Judge may enter a temporary Protective Order which is effective for no more than 7 days. "Abuse" means any act that causes serious bodily harm, assault in any degree, rape or sexual offense, false imprisonment, or stalking. If the respondent appears at the TPO hearing, the case can be heard on the merits for consideration of a final Protective Order or the case will be scheduled within 7 days for a "final" Protective Order hearing (FPOH) at which testimony from both parties can be taken. At the FPOH, the burden is on the petitioner to prove, by a "preponderance of the evidence," that the alleged abuse has occurred. Either party can proceed with or without legal counsel, but the formal rules of evidence will be applied. If granted, a final Protective Order lasts 1 year, subject to modification under certain circumstances. The conditions of a final Protective Order may include, among other possible relief, ordering the respondent to refrain from contacting the petitioner at home and at work, to vacate a home shared between the parties, awarding temporary custody of minor children, the surrender of firearms to law enforcement, and to provide emergency family maintenance to support any person eligible for relief. Final orders are also subject to modification or rescission subject to certain circumstances.
Peace OrdersPeace orders do NOT apply to petitioners who are eligible for relief under the Protective Order statute. The following acts give rise to the issuance of a peace order: an act causing serious bodily harm, an act placing another in fear of imminent serious bodily harm, assault, rape or sexual offense; false imprisonment, harassment, stalking, trespass; or malicious destruction of property. Interim peace orders can, like protective orders, be obtained from a court commissioner, and must be considered by a District Court Judge under the same evaluation criteria and time constraints applicable to a protective order. However, a petition for a peace order must alleged that an enumerated act giving rise to the order has occurred within 30 day's filing of the petition. This is not required under the Protective Order statute. Additionally, concerning the acts of harassment and stalking, the Petitioner must be prepared to prove that such acts are not isolated in nature and evidence a continuing course of conduct. Furthermore, the Petitioner is required to prove not only that the respondent has committed a specified act, but that such act(s) are likely to be committed in the future. This additional subject of proof is not required by the Protective Order statute and sometimes can prove fatal when not established by an unknowing and unrepresented petitioner. The relief available to the petitioner for a peace order are similar in nature to those available to the protective order petitioner. Unlike the duration of a protective order, a peace order is valid for 6 months.