Domestic violence is a serious charge with harsh consequences. Under Maryland family code § 4-501, domestic violence is defined as any instance where one family or household member commits abuse against another. The state includes current or former spouses, blood relations, parents and step-parents, marriage, or current residents as a family or household members.
The law articulates the following as acts of abuse:
- Sex crimes
- False imprisonment
- Child abuse
- Causing serious bodily harm
Following an incident of domestic violence, the case must be reported within 48 hours. The police officers will require proof of the incident, whether that be through physical evidence or witness testimony. However, they can arrest an individual without a warrant if they believe that an individual has abused a family or household member or that they violated a protective order.
What Can Happen After a Domestic Violence Arrest?
Upon the initial domestic violence charges, the court may order a protective order against the defendant. Also known as a restraining order, this protective order requires that the defendant refrains from contacting or engaging in certain activities from the plaintiff.
The various forms of protective orders include:
Temporary protective order – After the initial hearing, the court may assign a temporary protective order, which prohibits interaction between the plaintiff and the defendant. The order goes into effect within seven days after the plaintiff is served with the notice. Much like the name suggests, this order is temporary. A final hearing takes place where the judge will decide whether to assign a more permanent order.
Interim protective order – If the court believes domestic violence has occurred, they may assign an interim protective order, while the case proceeds. This order can be issued before the defendant has a chance to appear in court or is made aware of the petition.
Final protective order – The judge will assign a final protective order if they believe there is sufficient evidence against the defendant, who has the opportunity to respond to the allegations in a hearing before the judge. The final protective order usually stays in effect for one year, although it may be extended or made permanent given the circumstances. This order can affect how much contact the defendant is allowed with the plaintiff, matters such as child custody and alimony, mutual property, and financial aid.
The protective order can only be applied if the two parties are related to the family or the household.
The following are usually eligible for a protective order:
- Current/former spouse
- Are in a parent-child relationship and have lived with the child for the last 90 days
- Have lived together in an intimate relationship in the last 90 days
- Are related by blood, marriage, or adoption
- Are the caretaker of a dependent adult
If a person does not have this relationship, the plaintiff can file for a peace order. This order can extend to neighbors, a stranger, or someone in a dating relationship. It will still prohibit the respondent from coming into contact with the petitioner.
What Are the Consequences of a Domestic Violence Charge?
A domestic violence charge comes with many adverse ramifications, especially if you are convicted of the crime. The first violation of a protective order may result in up to 90 days in jail and a hefty fine. Subsequent violations can lead to up to one year in jail and large financial penalties. Not only does a domestic violence charge go on your permanent record, but it can also affect other aspects of your life.
This includes the following:
- Being forced to move from your home (eviction)
- Loss of child custody or visitation rights
- Criminal penalties
- Legal fines
What Should You Do After a Domestic Violence Charge?
If you have been charged with domestic violence, it is imperative that you obtain a Prince George's County criminal defense attorney. Many individuals believe that because they are innocent, they do not need legal representation. However, this is not true. When you are innocent, you will need a lawyer, even more, to uphold your innocence in court.
A skilled domestic violence attorney can construct a solid argument on your behalf. Because the court tends to favor the plaintiff in such cases, it is important to ensure your rights are upheld. If you were charged with domestic violence, contact Gracia & Mintz.