The main difference between a Peace Order and a Protective Order in Maryland is that the Peace Order is for protection from an unrelated person, like a friend, coworker, or ‘crazy’ person, while the Protective Order is appropriate for a domestic violence situation or from someone related to you by blood or marriage (applicable also for couples that have or do live together or have a child together).
The Maryland Judicial Court System has a very informative packet that can be downloaded here.
This hearing is quasi-criminal. It is civil in nature, in that there are no criminal repercussions like jail time or a fine as a result of the hearing. However, it will provide the victim (Petitioner) with certain special protections from the Respondent. If the Order is violated (e.g., the Respondent contacts the Petitioner while the Order is in effect), then there will be serious criminal repercussions including possible jail time. While it is a civil proceeding, the only ‘relief’ that can be granted is extremely limited to generally no contact and the equivalent of a ‘stay away’ order (child custody can also be determined on a temporary basis).
In many cases, the Petitioner seeks a Protective Order or Peace Order in addition to filing criminal charges or, in a domestic situation, in addition to Custody or Divorce proceedings. What the parties say in court can be used again at a later proceeding. Peace and Protective Order hearings happen quickly before anything else happens in court.
If you do not have adequate representation, you may suffer from serious collateral consequences as a result of what happened in court during the Peace Order Hearing or Protective Order Hearing. Having an attorney will be helpful to either resolve the issue or make sure that you are protected from future consequences.