In Baltimore, a domestic violence charge or arrest can ruin your career, damage your reputation, and derail your future. If you are convicted of a domestic violence offense, such as assaulting a partner or family member, you will face consequences that can include prison time, massive fines, probation, and a permanent criminal record. You can also lose your right to possess a firearm. Depending on the nature of the charges, you may even be at risk for permanent sex offender status in Maryland and throughout the U.S.
If you have been charged with domestic abuse in Baltimore, you need an experienced defense attorney to uphold your rights and protect your best interests. For a free legal consultation with a Baltimore domestic violence lawyer, call the Law Offices of Randolph Rice at (410) 694-7291, or contact us online to schedule an appointment.
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 of which are misdemeanors and some of which are felonies. Under the legal definition of domestic violence as provided by state law (Maryland Code, Family Law § 4-501), the term “abuse” includes all of the following acts and offenses:
- Any act (such as shoving 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 step-siblings. An assault against a neighbor or stranger can result in extremely serious criminal charges, but does not fit the definition for domestic violence.
The difference between § 3-202, assault in the first degree, and § 3-203, assault in the second degree, is the difference in how much harm the assault caused, whether a weapon was used, and who the victim was. Sometimes, these two types of assault may be informally called “simple assault” versus “aggravated assault,” with aggravated being nearly the same as assault in the first degree.
Assault in the first degree covers assaults that cause actual or attempted “serious physical injury.” This also covers any assaults involving a firearm, even if you legally owned the firearm.
Assault in the second degree covers any lesser assault. However, there is an upgraded penalty if an assault in the second degree is committed against a law enforcement officer, firefighter, EMT, or other emergency responder. This carries a doubled fine as compared to a regular assault in the second degree.
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 jail time, steep fines, and other consequences – include the following:
- Maryland Assault Penalties
- 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
- Rape in the First Degree – A sentence ranging from 25 years to life in prison, depending on the circumstances
- Rape in the Second Degree – A sentence ranging from 15 years to life in prison
- Maryland Sexual Offense Penalties –
- Sexual Offense in the First Degree – A sentence ranging from 25 years to life in prison, depending on the circumstances
- Sexual Offense in the Second Degree – A sentence ranging from 15 years to life in prison
- Sexual Offense in the Third Degree – Up to 10 years in prison
- Sexual Offense in the Fourth Degree – Up to 3 years in prison; fines of up to $1,000
- Maryland Stalking Penalties
- Up to 5 years in prison; up to $5,000 in criminal fines
Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list of all possible criminal penalties that can result from a domestic violence conviction in Baltimore. Moreover, in addition to fines and jail time, there can also be other serious consequences. For example, you could be required to register as a sex offender, or be ordered to 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. If you have been arrested for spousal abuse or related offenses, it is urgent that you contact a Baltimore criminal attorney immediately for legal guidance.
Baltimore Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys for Spousal Abuse
A domestic violence charge is a serious legal issue that requires urgent attention from a criminal defense attorney. 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 lawyer to help you right away.
Do not wait to get the legal help you need in approaching your criminal case. To arrange a confidential, completely free legal consultation with a domestic violence attorney in Baltimore, contact the Law Offices of Randolph Rice online, or call 24 hours at (410) 694-7291.