Washington County Domestic Violence Lawyer
If you have been arrested or accused of domestic violence, you may want to hire an experienced Washington County domestic violence lawyer as soon as possible. These charges can lead to many unwanted consequences, including the following if you are convicted:
- A protective order, which can be taken out against you almost immediately after you are arrested and charged
- Jail time
- Loss of child visitation, custody, or court-supervised visitation
- Possible restitution to the victim
Domestic violence can apply to any of the following situations:
- Assault and attempted assault (both felony and misdemeanor) [Maryland Annotated Code Sections 3-201, 3-202 and 3-303]
- Child abuse [Sections 3-601 and 3-602.1]
- Domestic rape, attempted rape [C.C. Section 3-303, 3-304, 3-309 and 3-310] and other sex crimes
- Stalking [Section 3–802]
- False imprisonment
Victims of Domestic Violence
Victims of domestic violence can include:
- Spouses (current and former)
- Those who are related to the suspect by blood, marriage, or adoption
- Parents, stepparents, children wives, “significant others,” and anyone who lives (or has recently cohabitated) with you
- Vulnerable adults who are incapable of taking care of themselves and must have another adult care for them
Those who can file protective orders include:
- Current or former spouses
- Anyone who has lived “intimately” with you for 90 days (or more) during the previous year
- Blood, married, or adopted relatives
- Anyone in a parent-child/stepparent-stepchild relationship who lived under the same roof for 90 or more days in past year
- “Vulnerable adults” (against their caretaker)
- One adult against the other with whom they had a child together
After a Protective Order
After being served with a protective order for domestic assault, defendants have seven days to retain an attorney before they must appear at a preliminary hearing. A Washington County domestic abuse lawyer is essential to your defense from this protective order and any subsequent domestic abuse charges. Failure to effectively protect yourself quickly makes your entire case (and its results) much more problematic.
Law enforcement plays a critical part in determining the validity of domestic violence. They may arrest a suspect without a warrant if any one or more of the following apply:
- The incident is reported within 48 hours.
- There is clear evidence to the arresting officer of injury to the victim.
- The officer reasonably believes the defendant battered the victim.
- The officer is reasonably convinced that the defendant may evade arrest, cause further injury to the victim, damage property, or tamper with (or destroy) evidence.
- The officer reasonably believes the suspect violated a protective order.
Domestic Violence Penalties in Washington County, Maryland
Maryland courts generally use discretion when deciding how much time a domestic abuse defendant should serve, depending on the facts of the case. But if the suspect is charged with any form of domestic assault, it is prosecuted under [Section 3-201(b)]. Depending on the severity of injury to the victim, the charge can be first- or second-degree assault. Conviction of either charge will not only bring possible jail time and a fine, but also likely have a tremendous impact on the ultimate disposition of your family court case.
Violating a protective order [Section 4-509] is a contempt-of-court conviction and is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. All subsequent offenses bring a year in jail and fine of up to $2,500.
An Experienced Washington County Domestic Violence Lawyer
Domestic violence assault cases can take six months, or even longer, to resolve. It is not uncommon that defendants have to pay unreasonably high bail amounts, especially if the court feels the victim could be further harmed. If you are not able to pay your bail, then you must wait in jail until your trial date. But one of the more serious matters that arise from domestic assault is that once the charges have been filed, even if the victim later decides to drop the case, Maryland law places that decision at the total discretion of the prosecutor. So, there is no guarantee that the victim’s wishes to drop the case will be honored.
If you’ve been charged with domestic violence or are served with a petition for a protective order, you should contact a Washington County domestic violence lawyer as soon as you are served or charged. The charges and accompanying protective order are very time-sensitive. An aggressive response is necessary in order to retain your domestic privileges (and child visitation or custody), as well as your freedom. It is important to take action quickly.