Being charged with domestic violence is a serious matter. Arguments at home can sometimes escalate to serious charges. Many people who are charged have never been accused of a crime before and don’t know anything about domestic violence charges.
What is Domestic Violence?
In Maryland, certain crimes between family and household members are considered domestic violence (or domestic abuse). Family and household members include current and former spouses, people related by blood, marriage, or adoption, people who live together, parents, stepparents, and children who live together, and people who have children together.
The following crimes are the most common domestic violence charges
- Telephone Misuse
- Electronic Misuse
- Violation of a Protective Order
Defendants are most commonly charged with first or second-degree assault. Someone can be charged with second-degree assault for any unconsented contact from a physical threat to physical battery.
Arrests for Domestic Violence
In some circumstances, a law enforcement officer may arrest a person suspected of domestic abuse without a warrant. The incident must be reported to the police within 48 hours, and then there must be evidence that the victim was injured. The arresting officer must fear that the defendant injured the victim and that, unless arrested, the defendant may evade arrest, cause injury, damage property, or tamper with or dispose of evidence. An officer can also make an arrest without a warrant if the officer has a reasonable belief that a person has violated a protective order.
A protective order is a court order requiring one person not to contact and stay away from another person. Family and household members can file a petition for protective orders in family court to protect themselves and their minor children. Other people can also file for a protective order on the victim’s behalf. It is a crime to violate a protective order.
In Maryland, crimes that constitute domestic abuse are not punished more severely because they are committed against a family or household member. State’s attorneys take domestic violence charges very seriously and often have prosecutors who specialize in domestic violence cases. In addition, courts have broad discretion in deciding punishment. A judge will always consider the facts of a case in sentencing, including the identity of the victim.
Violating a protective order is a misdemeanor. A first offense is punishable by 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Subsequent offenses are punishable by up to a year in jail and $2,500 fine.
A conviction for a domestic violence charge can lead to social stigma and problems with employment. People don’t want someone labeled as an abuser in their workplace or neighborhood. Sometimes companies will not hire someone convicted of domestic violence out of fear that the person will bring violence to the workplace. Because of the problems a conviction can cause, it is crucial to hire an attorney to help mitigate the damages and possibly reduce or eliminate the charges.
Contact an Experienced Maryland Criminal Attorney
Having an experienced attorney by your side can help you get the best possible outcome in your case. The attorneys at Alpert Schreyer, LLC are here to help. Contact us online or call us at 866-444-6363 to schedule a free consultation.