Can a Domestic Violence Protective Order of Peace Order be Expunged?

Both criminal and domestic attorneys are frequently confronted with whether domestic violence protective orders or peace orders can be expunged. This is an extremely important question given how readily available court information now is on the internet. Anyone with a computer or even a smart phone can bring up Maryland Judiciary Case Search and find out a person’s entire legal history in seconds. This information is available to potential employers and undoubtedly costs people job opportunities daily. 

That is, of course, unless the person has been able to get the court records expunged. Under the criminal code a person is entitled to have any case expunged that resulted in either a nolle prosequi (a dismissal), a stet (inactive), or a not guilty verdict (also called an acquittal). There are exceptions to this general rule such as a situation in which a person has pending charges or seeks to expunge the entry of a probation before judgement and has a subsequent conviction within three years of that entry.  


But what about a domestic violence protective order or a peace order?  

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Expungement is available only in criminal cases and only in the limited circumstances that I outlined above. What is available is a process called “Shielding,” but it is also available only in limited circumstances and is not nearly as complete a cleansing of the record as is expungement. 

Basically, a person is entitled to have a domestic violence protective order or peace order shielded if it was denied or dismissed at the interim, temporary or final order stage of the proceedings. This right to shielding is subject to limitations such as if there are pending criminal charges from the alleged abuse or another order between the parties has previously been issued. Even if neither of these limiting circumstances applies, the order still can be denied if the Petitioner appears and shows “good cause” to the court as to why the order should not be shielded.  

Additionally, a person can request shielding of a peace order once the order expires. A court may grant the request if the person seeking shielding consented to its entry, did not violate the order, has no other orders issued or pending against them, and has no convictions or pending charges against the person who filed for the peace order.  

Finally, even if the order is shielded, unlike in the case of expungement, certain people may still access the records, including law enforcement officials and victim services providers. Despite the limitations in the shielding statute, it is still something that should be done by anyone to whom shielding is available. The most important result of the shielding process is that if granted, the information will be taken off the Maryland Judiciary Case Search website. This will make the information unavailable to potential employers and others who may use the information to the disadvantage of the person against whom the order was sought.  

At Silverman Thompson, we handle expungement and shielding matters regularly. To discuss having a domestic violence protective order or peace order shielded or criminal charges expunged from you or a loved one’s record, please call Brian Thompson, Esq. at 410-659-9930 for a free consultation. 


If you are looking for a family lawyer, please contact Monica Scherer, Esq. at 410-625-4740.

Disclaimer: This blog is informative in nature. The information contained herein is not to be considered legal advice and there is no attorney-client relationship formed between Silverman Thompson and the reader. 

Contact Information