The stakes in a Salisbury domestic violence case are extremely high. A conviction for a crime of domestic violence can prevent you from living in your home or seeing your children while your case winds its way through the court system.
If the State has charged you with a domestic violence crime, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney advocating on your behalf. A Salisbury domestic violence lawyer can help you develop a comprehensive and strategic approach to fighting your charge.
Domestic Violence Laws
The Maryland Family Law Statute defines domestic violence in Salisbury very broadly. The law prohibits acts or threats of abuse lodged against a household or family member.
In order for the State to charge the accused with a domestic violence crime, the accused need not be the accuser’s spouse. Instead, the accused may be any blood relative, co-habiting partner, natural child, step-parent, or other person (whether a family member or not) residing in the household.
There is also no specific domestic violence charge under the law, and there are no specific penalties for domestic violence. Instead, the accused will likely face one or more of the following criminal charges:
- Rape or other sexual offense
- Attempted rape
- False imprisonment
The criminal penalties for a crime of domestic violence depends upon the nature of the underlying offense. An assault which results in a physical injury, for example, can result in a maximum of 25 years’ incarceration.
A conviction for rape or some other sexual offense (i.e. forcing non-consensual sexual intercourse or some other sexual act on another person) can result in a maximum lifetime sentence. A conviction for false imprisonment – or holding another person against their will – is a misdemeanor at common law. Consequently, there is no statute which imposes a maximum criminal sentence upon conviction.
Finally, a conviction for stalking can result in a maximum five-year prison sentence or a fine of $5,000.
A domestic violence lawyer in Salisbury may be able to help minimize the consequences of a domestic violence conviction.
When someone accuses another of domestic violence, that individual could remain subject to a protective order while their criminal case is pending. A protective order will place severe limitations on the accused during the lifetime of the criminal case.
For example, the order might preclude the accused from further abusing or threatening to abuse the accuser, living in a home shared with the accuser, and/or maintaining custody of the couple’s children. Moreover, the accused may have to turn over all firearms and refrain from possessing any new firearms while the domestic violence case is pending.
Speaking with a Salisbury Domestic Violence Attorney
Fortunately for those facing domestic violence charges, there are several legal defenses that are available under certain circumstances. For example, you may be able to allege that the prosecution has not met its burden of proof or that your accuser had some motivation (e.g., child custody) to file a wrongful domestic violence charge against you. You may also be able to allege self-defense.
Given the potential penalties upon conviction, you should not represent yourself in a domestic violence case. A Salisbury domestic violence lawyer can help to streamline your case and provide you the representation you deserve.