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On Defending Assault and Domestic Violence Cases

The following is an excerpt from an interview with Maryland criminal defense attorney Kush Arora, where he answers questions about domestic violence and assault in Maryland.

How do assault and domestic violence charges differ by jurisdiction?

Kush Arora: Every county handles domestic violence cases with a very serious attitude. Since they're all special prosecutors, they spend a great deal of time on these cases and they take special note of the sensitive nature of the case that they're prosecuting. Types of assault charges can differ like night and day. Assault charges in the second degree, which are misdemeanor assault charges, are the most common kinds of assault charges. Some people would call them "simple assault charges," and these can range from a bar fight where people were in a shoving match, to something more serious.

The other kind of assault in the second degree charge is domestic violence-related. The way that these are handled is very different. Every county in the state of Maryland has a "Family Crimes Division" or a "Domestic Violence Unit," which consists of a group of special prosecutors who have undergone specific training to domestic violence cases. These cases are among the most difficult for prosecutors to prove as family members often reconsider proceeding on criminal offenses against their loved ones. Once a case is in court, prosecutors are faced with being extremely creative in prosecuting these cases where witnesses are uncooperative. This makes handling a domestic violence assault charge different than handling a regular simple assault charge and why hiring an attorney skilled in domestic violence strategy is extremely important.

What is the hardest part about defending domestic violence cases?

Kush Arora: It's difficult to feel as though we are almost intruding into someone’s private life. Nobody wants something so private to be publicly broadcasted to a courtroom, and that's precisely what has to happen in order for this case to be prosecuted by the state. These are situations in which family members are involved, sometimes extended family members. Everybody is extremely embarrassed by what has happened and wants it to be resolved as soon as possible.

There are situations where domestic violence cases are prosecuted, and they're successfully prosecuted, but I don't think that there's a single case of a domestic violence prosecution where people have left the courtroom happy. Whether the victim wanted to proceed against their attacker or not, certainly a family unit has been impacted and somebody, whether it's the couple themselves, their children, or their extended family, are impacted, maybe for life, by what happened in this particular case.

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