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, you will face serious criminal penalties that can include prison time, fines, and probation, and a criminal record. You could also face restraining orders that take your guns, home, and children away from you.
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. Rice, Murtha & Psoras are prepared to provide you with skilled representation. Call us at (410) 694-7291 today to arrange a free legal consultation with our Baltimore domestic violence defense lawyers.
What Crimes Are Considered Domestic Abuse Offenses in Baltimore?
“Domestic violence” or “domestic abuse” are broad terms that can refer to many different types of crimes. Instead of having one particular crime called “domestic violence,” Maryland law labels many crimes as domestic violence offenses when committed against certain people. Some domestic abuse offenses are misdemeanors, while others are considered felonies.
Assault, threats of violence, sexual assault, stalking, false imprisonment, and other crimes may be categorized as domestic violence depending on the nature of the relationship between the victim and the alleged offender. Crime and abuse are considered “domestic” when committed against a person in your household or a former romantic partner. An assault on a stranger can result in extremely serious criminal charges, but it does not fit the legal definition of domestic violence.
Instead, domestic violence crimes are those committed against any of the following people:
- Other adults in your household
- Adults under your care (such as elderly or disabled family members)
- Dating partners
- Sexual partners
- Spouses (former or current)
- The other parent of your children
If the crime you allegedly committed involved one of these individuals as a victim, the crime could be classified as a domestic violence charge. This opens up additional protective measures for the victim, which could result in additional penalties and restrictions for you, even without a criminal conviction.
Baltimore, MD Domestic Violence Penalties
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.
Criminal charges are usually considered felonies or misdemeanors, with more serious offenses being classified as felonies. The difference between felonies and misdemeanors is that felonies are more serious and typically carry higher fines and longer sentences – usually with the possibility of over a year in prison. While past misdemeanors are less likely to interfere with a job search or other background checks, potential employers are more likely to look unfavorably on job applicants with criminal records, especially records of violent crime.
Most of the crimes listed as domestic violence offenses can fluctuate between misdemeanor and felony charges depending on the circumstances of the offense. For instance, assault that causes only mild injury might be a misdemeanor, but assault using a weapon or causing serious bodily harm might be a felony.
There can be other serious consequences in addition to the fines and jail sentences for your charges. For example, you may be ordered to register as a sex offender for sexual offenses. Many domestic violence charges also involve protective orders or restraining orders. There could also be negative impacts on any child custody or divorce proceedings that might be underway.
Protective Orders Against Domestic Violence Defendants in Baltimore
If you have domestic violence charges pending against you, you might face additional penalties and restrictions that are not part of the actual penalties of the offense. In most domestic violence cases, there is a pre-existing relationship between the defendant and the alleged victim that puts them at a higher risk of continued or repeat abuse. To prevent this, courts often issue protective orders and restraining orders to keep the victim safe from further abuse.
The protective orders issued by Baltimore courts in domestic violence cases are often very strong. A protective order filed as an emergency petition might have the power to kick you out of your house, block you from contacting the petitioner, take your children away from you, and force you to remit spousal support or other financial support. These emergency petitions can often be filed without a chance to respond.
You will usually get an opportunity to be heard and challenge the protective order against you, but that might not happen until the effects are already felt. However, courts must renew temporary emergency petitions, and you will have a chance to challenge the renewal. If the alleged victim wants the protective order converted into a permanent protective order, you will also have an opportunity to defend yourself.
Often, protective orders state that you cannot commit acts of violence or other criminal acts against the alleged victim. This is already illegal, but having a protective order that doubles-down on this restriction can give the court more power to investigate allegations against you and punish you for violating both the law and the protective order. Violating a protective order can lead to independent consequences, even if the violation involved conduct that is not otherwise illegal, such as calling your spouse on the phone or entering a house you own.
Baltimore Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys for Felonies + Misdemeanors
If you have been arrested for rape, assault, stalking, false imprisonment, or other types of domestic violence crimes, 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 your criminal case. To arrange a free legal consultation with our Baltimore domestic violence attorney, call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.