You can use tune2fs on ext3 to cause the disk to be checked at the next boot, using the option -C for instance to cheat and tell the system that the FS has been mounted too many times... still, this should not cause the system to go to maintenance mode.
If you want that, you can try to change the file /etc/fstab (a bit dangerous if you're not experienced in using it).
Change the filesystem type of the partition you want to fail, (I suppose /), and change from its real filesystem (e.g. ext3) to a wrong one (e.g. vfat). This should do the trick.
To repair the problem, you will need a livecd or something like this, maybe the maintenance mode won't allow you to repair. Be careful!