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Maryland Domestic Violence Lawyer
Domestic violence cases are complicated, and the stakes are high, as defendants could be prevented from living in a family home and seeing children while the outcome of the case is pending. Luckily, an experienced and knowledgeable Maryland domestic violence lawyer can help with resolving your case quickly and effectively, with the goal of avoiding conviction or reducing penalties. Call a criminal defense lawyer today for legal guidance and representation as you face these serious accusations.
Domestic Violence Laws in Maryland
In Maryland, there is no specific law prohibiting domestic violence. Instead, defendants accused of assaulting, stalking, or threatening intimate partners can be charged with criminal offenses like first or second degree assault under Maryland Code Sections 3-202 and 3-203 or harassment under Maryland Code Section 3-803. More stringent penalties may be imposed upon defendants who are accused of domestic violence when a child is in the house, after a 2014 change to the law, which could constitute child abuse.
Defendants may be prohibited from keeping weapons while subject to a protective order, and a protective order can also prevent a domestic violence defendant from seeing a spouse or children or living in a shared family home. Because the consequences extend beyond criminal prosecution, defendants need a domestic violence lawyer in Maryland who can help to move the domestic violence case forward quickly and effectively within the legal system.
Types of Offenses
Section 4-501 of Maryland’s Family Law statute has a relatively broad definition of domestic violence, encompassing a spectrum of events which may occur between household members or individuals within the same family. Included in this category are transgressions such as:
- Physical assault
- Attempted rape
- Actual rape
- False imprisonment or preventing freedom of movement
- Creation of fear of imminent harm in another
- Physicality producing serious bodily harm
Further, it should be noted that an accused party does not necessarily have to be the spouse of the accuser. The fact is that complaints of this type may be lodged by anyone who is a blood relation, co-habitating partners, those related through marriage or adoption, a natural child, step-parents, a household member or an adult without the necessary mental or physical ability to meet his or her own needs on a daily basis.
Spousal abuse under Maryland law is defined as physical abuse by assault or emotional abuse when threats are made or the other party is put in fear resulting in harassment charges or a protective order. Spousal abuse is considered to be between two parties who are married to each other.
A person accused of spousal abuse can be charged, arrested, and held or required to post a bond. If the charges proceed in court, the person could be required to appear in court to have the charge against them proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
The consequences of criminal charges associated with spousal abuse carry significant amounts of jail time, high fines, and the likelihood of probation depending on the charges.
Both Fifth Amendment issues and diversion programs can be available when handling a domestic violence case involving spousal abuse. To best understand this process, an individual should consult with an experienced domestic violence attorney in Maryland immediately.
Roommate violence in Maryland is considered somewhat domestic. Usually domestic violence involves people in familial or romantic relationship with each other. If people are simply roommates sharing housing, they generally do not fall under the domestic violence statute unless they are in a familial or romantic relationship with each other.
When the violence is not characterized as domestic violence, it is considered a regular criminal case. Charges that exist in domestic violence courts such as assaults, harassments, or violation of protective orders also exist in non-domestic violence courts. They carry the same maximum penalties and the same burden of proof by the government.
Potential consequences for roommate violence include:
- Significant fines
- The possibility of probation
- Loss of employability
- Dismissal from academic programs
- Ejection from housing
- Not qualifying for certain kinds of housing
When somebody is charged with a violent offense against their roommate, they are charged with a criminal offense. It is important that they have representation to make sure their rights are preserved; to identify the best defense possible, and to conduct their own investigation into the criminal charges brought against them.
It is important to contact an attorney with experience in handling roommate violence cases. The lawyer can make sure that a person’s rights are preserved and ensure that any issues of bias or fabrication are addressed as to the person making the accusation.
Impact of Accusations
When an incident in the home escalates and you are ultimately accused of committing an act of domestic violence, the negative impact on your life can be almost immediate. Pursuant to Family Code Section 4-509, there are occasions in which law enforcement personnel have the ability to arrest individuals accused of domestic violence, even without first obtaining a warrant.
Arresting officers must reasonably believe that a battery occurred and that the accused is likely to cause further injury, engage in evidence tampering or evade arrest. In circumstances such as this, it is incumbent upon the accused to secure the assistance of an aggressive Maryland domestic violence attorney committed to protecting their rights.
One who is accused of domestic violence may also be subjected to protective orders which require them to refrain from contacting or from being in the presence of the accuser or impacted minor children.
Protective orders may prohibit individuals from threatening the accuser, living in a shared home, taking possession of pets, maintaining custody of children and, they may also require the surrender of firearms suspected to have been involved in the incident. Before orders of this type can become final for a period of at least a year, accused individuals must be afforded the opportunity to be heard in court.
These are the times when an experienced lawyer can help mount a vigorous and appropriate defense designed to prevent what can be truly devastating personal outcomes.
Building a Defense
Being found guilty of domestic violence crimes can bring especially onerous consequences, including monetary fines, not to mention terms of incarceration. In addition, criminal records of this type can hinder career advancement, harm child custody arrangements, ruin personal relationships and jeopardize professional licenses.
Therefore, it pays to obtain legal representation aimed at ensuring that all procedural requirements were followed in a given case and that the rights of the accused have been protected every step of the way.
Because there are always two sides to every story, a Maryland domestic violence lawyer will take the time to understand the facts leading up to the event in question and explore every possible line of defense.
Contacting An Attorney
A Maryland domestic violence attorney is familiar with criminal code statutes used to prosecute defendants accused of alleged crimes against family members and intimate partners. With help from an attorney, defendants can develop a strategic and comprehensive approach to fighting charges while protecting their reputation and relationships. To learn more and to get help with your case, call now to speak with an experienced lawyer.