Charges for domestic violence in Maryland can be severe. These kinds of cases often have broader implications for defendants because they might involve restraining orders that prevent them from owning a firearm, force them to move out of their house, or take away children from their custody. On top of these penalties, domestic violence usually involves serious criminal penalties such as fines and jail time.
If you were arrested for domestic violence crimes in Maryland, call the Law Offices of Randolph Rice today. Our Maryland domestic violence charges defense attorney might be able to take your case and fight to get the charges dropped and dismissed. Call our law offices today at (410) 694-7291 to schedule a free case consultation.
Definition of Domestic Violence in Maryland
Most states either have a specific crime called “domestic violence” or they have a list of several crimes that could be considered “domestic violence” charges under certain circumstances. Maryland follows the latter system and designates some violent crimes as domestic violence crimes when they are committed against certain people.
Generally, for a crime to be labeled a domestic violence offense, it must be committed against someone who was in an intimate relationship with the offender or a household member. This includes spouses, dating partners, sexual partners, and the other parent of shared children. Alternatively, domestic violence charges could cover crimes against certain adults in the household like parents, stepparents, or vulnerable adults under the care of someone in the house.
“Domestic” usually refers to things in the household, which is why other adults in the household are treated as domestic violence victims. However, dating partners, former spouses, and parents of shared children do not have to live in the same house as you for violence against them to be considered domestic violence.
List of Charges that Qualify as Domestic Violence Offenses in Maryland
Maryland lists a series of violent crimes that could constitute domestic violence if committed against an applicable individual. First, any crime of assault or other offense that either causes bodily injury or puts someone in fear of bodily injury could qualify as a domestic violence crime. This covers spousal battery and intimate partner violence – the kinds of crimes that people commonly associate with the term “domestic violence.”
In addition to these offenses, rape and other sexual offenses could qualify as domestic violence crimes. Most cases of rape or sexual assault involve an offender and a victim that already know each other. In some cases, rape even occurs against a spouse or a dating partner since issues of consent are judged on a case-by-case basis.
Stalking can also be a domestic violence crime. In many cases, stalking is committed by someone who does not have a very close relationship with the victim. However, if the victim was a dating partner or former lover, the offense of stalking could be charged as a domestic violence offense.
Lastly, crimes of false imprisonment can qualify as domestic violence charges. In cases where a spouse or dating partner is locked in a room or forcibly confined to the house, there are usually other crimes of violence committed as well. However, this act by itself is enough to lead to domestic violence charges, too.
Penalties for Domestic Abuse Charges in Maryland
The penalties vary from case to case for Maryland domestic violence charges. Depending on the actual crime charged, the penalties could be different based on the level of crime. For instance, misdemeanor offenses are less serious and usually carry lower fines and less jail time than felony offenses. Many of the domestic violence offenses you could be charged with are charged as different levels of felony or misdemeanor based on the harm the victim suffered or the way that the actor committed the crime.
In nearly any criminal case, the potential of jail time is a possibility. In serious cases of violence, the judge might order incarceration to keep you away from the victim or other potential victims. In less serious cases, probation might be appropriate. This would allow you to stay out of jail on the condition that you check in with a probation officer, avoid additional criminal activity, and follow other terms and conditions.
Domestic violence cases often involve protective orders as well. Protective orders are restraining orders issued by a judge to help protect someone from being the victim of crime. Some terms of protective orders prevent you from doing things that are already illegal, like assaulting the petitioner. If you violate a protective order by committing another domestic violence crime, you could be charged with the offense you committed and face additional penalties for violating the restraining order.
Other terms of protective orders keep the defendant from doing things that they would otherwise be allowed to do. Protective orders in Maryland domestic violence cases can often be used to force the defendant to do any of the following:
- Stay out of the home they share with the defendant – even if they own the home
- Stay away from the victim’s home or place of business
- Give up custody of shared children
- Give up possession of a shared pet
- Surrender weapons and firearms
- Avoid further contact or communications
- Pay certain fees and support needs
Courts have wide latitude to enforce any terms they need to to keep the victim safe. These protective orders can be put into effect without a chance for you to respond. It might only be later that you get a chance to go to court and challenge the terms of the petition. Courts might transition a temporary protective order into a permanent protective order if there is sufficient evidence that you are an ongoing risk to the victim’s safety.
Call Our Maryland Lawyer for Domestic Violence and Abuse Charges
Domestic violence charges can carry severe penalties and can leave defendants with reduced rights and opportunities. For help fighting domestic violence charges and the associated protective orders, call our Maryland domestic violence charges defense attorney today. The Law Offices of Randolph Rice’s criminal defense lawyers have experience handling criminal charges throughout Maryland and may be able to take your case. Call us today at (410) 694-7291 to set up a free legal consultation.