In Baltimore, a domestic violence charge can upend every aspect of your daily life. An arrest for domestic violence may lead to serious collateral consequences, damaging your reputation, your career, and your future. If you are convicted of a domestic violence offense, such as assaulting a partner or family member, you will face serious criminal penalties that can include prison time, fines, and probation, along with a criminal record. You can also lose your right to possess firearms and could be ordered to comply with restraining orders. Depending on the nature of the offense, you may even be required to register as a sex offender in Maryland.
If you have been charged with domestic abuse in Baltimore, you need an experienced defense attorney to listen to your side of the story and investigate the details carefully. Cases involving allegations of domestic violence are some of the most complex, demanding sensitive and sophisticated strategies built on years of courtroom experience. At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, we have over a decade of experience fighting felony and misdemeanor charges involving spousal abuse and domestic violence. Whether the charges against you involve assault, sexual assault, stalking, or other types of offenses, Randolph Rice is prepared to provide you with skilled representation. Contact us online to arrange a free legal consultation, or call the Law Offices of Randolph Rice at (410) 694-7291 today.
What Crimes Are Considered Domestic Abuse?
“Domestic violence” or “domestic abuse” is a broad term that can refer to many different types of crimes. Some domestic abuse offenses are misdemeanors, while others are considered felonies.
The difference between felonies and misdemeanors is that felonies, being more serious crimes, are subject to higher fines and longer sentences. While past misdemeanors are less likely to interfere with a job search, potential employers are more likely to look unfavorably on job applicants with violent felony records. A domestic violence conviction, felony or misdemeanor, can also make it harder to quality for certain loans, such as certain forms of student aid. It can also make it impossible to lawfully obtain firearms, the possession or purchase of which is banned by federal law for individuals with prior felonies.
Under the legal definition of domestic violence provided by state law at Maryland Code, Family Law § 4-501, the term “abuse” includes all of the following acts and offenses:
- Any act (such as hitting or kicking) resulting in “serious bodily harm”
- Any act that would cause a reasonable person to “fear… imminent serious bodily harm”
- False imprisonment
- Rape and other sex crimes
Assault, stalking, and other crimes may be categorized as domestic violence depending on the nature of the relationship between the victim and the alleged offender. As the Maryland Courts explain, abuse is “domestic” when it occurs “between ‘family or household members,’” such as a parent and child, a boyfriend and girlfriend, or siblings and stepsiblings. An assault on a stranger can result in extremely serious criminal charges, but does not fit the legal definition for domestic violence, which is specific to cohabitants, family members, and romantic partners.
Maryland Domestic Violence Penalties
In Maryland, there are many different crimes that can be considered domestic violence, depending on whether the people involved are related or cohabitate (live together). As such, the penalties for domestic violence in Maryland will ultimately depend on what sort of crime the defendant is charged with. For example, a domestic violence charge that involves assault could result in different penalties than a domestic violence charge that involves rape.
To reiterate, crimes that are commonly categorized as domestic violence offenses include rape, assault, and stalking. Criminal penalties for these offenses – which may include prison time and considerable fines – are described in the corresponding sections below.
Maryland Assault Penalties
There are two types of assault that can lead to domestic violence charges:
- First Degree Assault – Maryland Criminal Code § 3-202
- Second Degree Assault – Maryland Criminal Code § 3-203
Assault in the first degree covers assaults that cause actual or attempted “serious physical injury.” The statute also covers assaults involving a firearm, even if you legally owned the gun. Assault in the second degree generally covers any lesser form of assault. As such, there are greater penalties for assault in the first degree, which is a felony while assault in the second degree is a misdemeanor. These penalties include the following:
- First Degree Assault – Up to 25 years in prison
- Second Degree Assault – Up to 10 years in prison; up to $2,500 or $5,000 in fines, depending on the circumstances
Maryland Rape Penalties
As defined by Maryland law, rape is nonconsensual intercourse that also involves one or more of the following elements:
- Committing the crime during or in connection with a burglary
- Committing the crime with help from one or more additional people
- Suffocating or seriously injuring the victim
- The use of “force, or the threat of force”
- The use or “display [of] a dangerous weapon,” such as a handgun
Penalties for rape are extremely serious and may include the following:
- First Degree Rape – From 25 years to life in prison
- Second Degree Rape – From 15 years to life in prison
Maryland Sexual Offense Penalties
While it may sound like a generic term, “sexual offense” is actually the name of a specific crime in Maryland. The charges and associated penalties vary in severity as described below.
- First Degree Sexual Offense – From 25 years to life in prison
- Second Degree Sexual Offense – From 15 years to life in prison
- Third Degree Sexual Offense – Up to 10 years in prison
- Fourth Degree Sexual Offense – Up to three years in prison; fines of up to $1,000
Maryland Stalking + Harassment Penalties
Stalking is closely related to, but a more serious charge than, harassment. Penalties for these offenses are as follows:
- Harassment – Up to 90 days in jail; up to $500 in fines
- Stalking – Up to five years in prison; up to $5,000 in fines
Keep in mind this is not an exhaustive list of all possible criminal penalties that can result from a domestic violence conviction in Baltimore. Moreover, there can be other serious consequences in addition to the maximum fines and sentences described above. For example, you may be ordered to register as a sex offender, or obey a protective order, depending on the crime you are charged with and the outcome of your case. There could also be negative impacts for any child custody or divorce proceedings that might be underway.
Baltimore Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys for Felonies + Misdemeanors
A domestic violence charge is a serious legal issue that requires urgent attention from a criminal defense lawyer. If you have been arrested for rape, assault, stalking, false imprisonment, or other types of domestic violence, it is vitally important that you contact an experienced attorney to help you right away.
Do not wait to get the legal help you need in approaching your criminal case. To arrange a free legal consultation with a domestic abuse attorney in Baltimore, contact the Law Offices of Randolph Rice online, or call 24 hours, seven days a week, at (410) 694-7291 for assistance.