Washington, DC asked in Family Law for Maryland

Q: What does my dismissed peace order mean

I have a dismissed peace order filed against me in 2021. I was never served because I was only in MD on Military leave and was back across the country when they showed up to my parents house. It was dismissed after a month and the filer went to court once a week for that month. On the MD courts website it says it exceeded the statuary time limit. Does this mean I was innocent?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: It is not a criminal charge, so guilt or innocence is not the right way to characterize this type of case. This is a civil peace order petition. Anyone can file a petition seeking a peace order against another person, and the burden of proof is a "preponderance of the evidence" which the petitioner must meet in order to prevail. Basically, that is proving with actual evidence the factual basis to meet the legal standard for issuing the peace order, which in layman's terms means "more likely than not" the respondent in the proceeding did the acts alleged. In your case, they never got service on you, so a final hearing on the merits of the case appears not to have been held. I assume an "interim" order was issued, pending service on you and an opportunity to contest the petition at a hearing, but in the end the case was dismissed due to lack of service, or the petitioner simply withdrew the petition. This is not a finding against you, and is not something that will come up in a criminal background check, if that is your concern.

It is possible to have the civil docket entries of such a proceeding "shielded" from public view, which is available in any case where a final protective order was not issued based on a finding that you did the acts supporting the petition. To have the case shielded, you need to file a written petition or motion to shield it, and then the petitioner in the orignal proceeding will have the opportuity to contest the shielding in order to preserve the public docket entry (this might be the case where there is a continuing concern of further unwanted contact). A judge will hold a hearing to determine whether to grant the petition to shield. If your petition is denied, then you may refile it after a year has passed, and at the hearing on the second petition to shield the original petitioner on the peace order is not allowed to object to shielding, which means the motion to shield will be granted.

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