After Peace Order or Protective Order proceedings occur in Maryland, it is important to consider whether you can have these proceedings shielded or expunged from public view. While this process can be complex, there are a few basics that you should know before beginning. Here are some frequently asked questions that the Greenberg Legal Group often receives about shielding Peace and Protective Order cases in Maryland:
When someone has their Court records shielded, this means that the records are removed from the public view. For the physical copies of the records, shielding means that the records are moved to a different and secure area of the courthouse. For all electronic copies of the records and judicial proceedings – including Maryland Case Search – shielding means removing all of this information from the public view. It is important to note that shielding Court records does not eliminate them completely. There are legitimate reasons that someone could access the records in the future. Information about the proceeding may not be removed from the Domestic Violence Central Repository.
In general, the process for shielding the Court records begins with filing a written request to shield the records. The petitioner, the petitioner’s employee or the respondent may file a written request to shield all court records relating to the proceeding. Once the request to shield the proceedings is filed and the opposing party has been notified of the request, the Court will typically schedule a hearing to determine if shielding is appropriate.
If a petition was denied or dismissed at the interim, temporary, or final stage of the proceeding, a party may file a written request for shielding. The Court will order the shielding of the records if the Court finds: 1) the petition was denied or dismissed at any stage of the proceeding; 2) that a final protective order or peace order has not been previously issued against the party seeking to shield in a proceeding between that party and the petitioner; 3) that the party seeking to shield has not been found guilty of a crime arising from abuse against the petitioner; 4) that there is no pending interim or temporary protective order between the party and the petitioner; and 5) that there is no criminal charge against the party seeking shielding arising from alleged abuse against the petitioner. The Court may, for good cause, deny the Shielding. See Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1510 and Fam. Law § 4-512.
If the party seeking shielding consented to the entry of a protective order, the petitioner or the respondent may file a written request for shielding at any time after the protective order expires. Again, the Court will schedule a hearing on the matter and give notice of the hearing to the parties or their counsel. After the hearing, the Court may order the shielding of all Court records relating to the proceeding if the court finds: 1) that the petitioner consents to the shielding; 2) that the party seeking shielding did not violate the protective order during its term; 3) that a final peace order or protective order has not been previously issued against the party seeking shielding in a proceeding between that party and the petitioner; 4) that the party seeking shielding has not been found guilty of a crime arising from abuse against the petitioner; 5) that there is not pending interim or temporary peace order or protective order issued against the party; and 6) there is no pending criminal charge against the party arising from alleged abuse against an individual. If the petitioner does not consent to the shielding of the records, then the party seeking shielding may refile a written request after one (1) year from the date of the hearing. See Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-1510 and Fam. Law § 4-512.
Robert Greenberg, Esq. and the law firm of Greenberg Legal Group LLC have extensive experience representing clients in Peace Order and Protective Order actions. Our firm is located in Annapolis, Maryland and practices in Courts throughout the State of Maryland. Please contact our office at (410) 650-4242 for further assistance.