Maryland Domestic Violence Lawyer
A conviction for a domestic violence crime carries with it social and economic repercussions that can seriously damage your future. In Maryland, acts of violence between family or household members are considered crimes of domestic violence and are subject to penalties including incarceration and fines. If you have been accused or charged with such an offense you should immediately contact a Maryland domestic violence lawyer to begin building your defense.
Domestic Violence Charges
Acts of domestic violence vary greatly, according to Maryland law, and can include the following:
- An act that either causes serious bodily harm to the alleged victim, or causes them to be in fear that they are in imminent danger of serious bodily harm
- Kidnapping or false imprisonment
- Abuse of a child or a vulnerable adult
- Spousal abuse
- Sexual offenses, including rape or attempted rape
Depending on the severity of the alleged act, you may be facing a misdemeanor or felony charge and fines that can cause you financial hardship. By its very definition, domestic violence involves abuse between family or household members. That means the emotional stakes are also extremely high. It is also an unfortunate reality that allegations of domestic abuse are sometimes fabricated in divorce and child custody disputes, creating further stress and tension for the family involved.
Representation from a highly professional and experienced Maryland domestic violence attorney is your best option for achieving the optimum result during this difficult time. A dedicated domestic violence lawyer is best suited to building a strategic defense based on your specific circumstances. Because Maryland courts and judges have latitude in determining the length of a sentence based on certain convictions, a skillful attorney will work hard to mitigate any penalties you may face should you be convicted of such an offense.
When there is an allegation of domestic abuse in Maryland, the victim may petition for a protective order against the alleged abuser. If a protective order is filed, you may lose access to your home, be prohibited from contacting the victim, and you may lose custody of your children.
Maryland family code states that violation of an interim, temporary, or final protective order is a misdemeanor, punishable by a $1,000 fine or 90 days imprisonment or both for a first offense, and a $2,500 fine or one year in prison or both for a second offense or more.
In the event you are served with a protective order, a domestic violence attorney can help guide you through the process and advocate for your civil rights and privacy.
Maryland Assault Laws
Under Maryland criminal law Section 3-202, first-degree assault is a crime in which a person intentionally seeks to cause serious physical injury to another person. First-degree assault, with or without the use of a firearm, is considered a felony and is punishable by up to 25 years in prison.
Second-degree assault involves attempting to inflict or inflicting bodily harm, and results in a misdemeanor charge punishable with up to ten years in prison or a fine of $2,500, or both, according to Section 3-203.
If you are charged with either first or second-degree assault as part of a domestic violence incident, a dedicated domestic violence lawyer will examine every aspect of your case and build the most effective defense possible. If there is a conviction, that attorney will advocate on your behalf for a minimum or reduced sentence.
Reckless Endangerment Law
Domestic incidents involving any type of reckless behavior or act that could result in physical injury or death of a family or household member falls under Maryland’s reckless endangerment law in Section 3-204. Reckless endangerment is a misdemeanor punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
Child Abuse and Kidnapping
Any act that causes serious physical injury or death to a child is first-degree child abuse under Maryland law Section 3-601, and is a felony punishable by up to 25 years for serious injury, or up to 30 years in the event of the child’s death. Second-degree child abuse, also considered a felony in Maryland, involves any abuse of a child and carries a sentence of up to 15 years.
In Maryland, the kidnapping of a child is defined in Section 3-503 as taking, carrying, or abducting a child under the age of 12 from the child’s home, or from the custody or control of the parent or legal guardian by force. Additionally, under this law, a child under the age of 16 may not be taken, carried, stolen, or kidnapped by either “force or fraud”.
Kidnapping of a child in Maryland is a serious felony punishable by up to 20-30 years in prison, and if a sexual offense is committed against the child during the course of the kidnapping, a sentence of life imprisonment without parole is possible. With the potential for such severe consequences, and the reality that domestic violence allegations could be made particularly in contentious custody cases, it is vital to retain counsel in the event you are charged with kidnapping.
A roommate is someone that a person is living with; they may share an apartment together, or share a home and they live somewhere together. This is not truly domestic violence because the other person is simply someone who happens to live in the same residence as them; if they live in an apartment building, for example, and they have roommates, unless they are in a romantic relationship, it is not technically domestic violence.
Instead, roommate violence is considered assault under whatever the criminal charge may be. The immediate criminal consequence of roommate violence is being charged criminally, and being arrested or issued a summons for charges that can carry penalties up to 10 and 25 years depending on what the category of assault it is. It is often presumed that someone who has been convicted of assault would not be as trustworthy as someone who does not have that conviction. If a person has an assault conviction on their record, people may worry about their anger management issues.
If a person is charged and it happens to be someone they live with, the alleged victim can get a peace order, but not a protective order because the person is not in a relationship with them. It is not a protective order; it is a peace order. Part of a peace order can be a stay-away where a person would actually be put out of their home and they would have to find somewhere else to live. It is important that a person understands that their actions will have very real implications on their life.
Under Maryland law, stalking is a misdemeanor punishable by up to five years in prison or a fine up to $5,000, or both.
Stalking is defined as “approaching or pursuing” another with the express purpose of instilling fear of bodily harm, or engaging in such actions when it should be reasonably known that they could cause fear.
Due to the possible tension in domestic relationships, particularly when a protective order may be in place, it is important to have one our experienced domestic violence lawyers manage your defense and clarify your communications in the event you are charged with a crime of stalking.
Adults who are not able to care for their own needs mentally or physically are considered vulnerable under Maryland law. A domestic violence allegation regarding a vulnerable adult includes any act of neglect or abuse that either causes or results in serious physical injury, sexual abuse, or death of the victim.
Domestic Violence Charges
Allegations of domestic violence can impact your life in a variety of ways: your employment may be jeopardized, your relationships and reputation may suffer damage, and you may lose some of your civil rights, including the right to own a gun. This can be particularly detrimental if your job requires that you carry a firearm and pass a background check or security clearance.
The emotional toll of these allegations may be increased significantly when the incident appears contrary to popular perception, as may be the case with alleged abuse between same-sex couples, allegations against women, and when false allegations are made amid custody and divorce battles.
The state of Maryland’s Comprehensive Crime Control and Prevention Plan 2012-2014 includes initiatives designed to raise public awareness of domestic violence issues, improve law enforcement training, and more effectively monitor protective orders. This heightened awareness when dealing with domestic violence is designed to aid in the prevention of such crimes. It also, however, can increase the social and economic repercussions if you have been served with a protective order or are charged with domestic violence.
Felony Domestic Violence
Domestic violence can be very traumatic and have very serious effects on someone’s life in both the short and long-term. The Violence Against Women Act is an act set forth under President Clinton in 1994. It was codified into the United States Code to protect women and children against domestic violence. Given the extension of laws and terms of what constitutes a spouse, it now protects men and women against violence. Federal law rarely applies in a domestic violence case, if ever.
When the domestic matter occurs in federal territory, federal law applies in the federal court as opposed to a state court. Often these kinds of cases take place with somebody who resides on a military base or a person who is on the military base premises where federal jurisdiction supersedes state jurisdiction.
Federal law states that a person faces the possibility of a period of jail time and a lengthy period of probation. The reason VAWA is so important is that it provides services for alleged victims of domestic violence. It assists people who have been domestically abused or sexually abused. The law expanded and now includes those in the LGBTQ community and college students. People can take advantage of social services to help them with safety, trauma, and therapy. There are services that provide safe housing. The access to justice means that certain people can be prosecuted with a greater effort by the State’s Attorneys’ office. Because domestic violence is a priority, the authorities aggressively go after the person. The federal government supplements the budget to the states although VAWA was never intended to be a sword.
Contacting a Maryland Domestic Violence Lawyer
As new initiatives are implemented, a dedicated Maryland domestic violence lawyer will have the training and experience to protect your rights. Seth Okin and the attorneys he works with at our Baltimore law offices have not only the experience and skills needed in these cases, they also possess compassion and respect for your individual circumstances, regardless of the allegations or your sexual orientation or gender. Call Mr. Okin today to schedule a free consultation, and find out more about how he can work to protect your rights and reputation.