Recently it became a lot easier for a person accused of domestic violence to be found guilty. The accuser merely needs to prove that it was “more likely than not” that the violence occurred. If the court finds a person responsible for domestic violence, the court will issue an “Order of Protection Against Domestic Violence.” The Order may include restraining orders in favor of the spouse and children, loss of custody, vacation of the family home, and the payment of maintenance, among many other possible reliefs. In many cases, especially if the alleged victim shows physical signs of abuse, the police do not require a warrant to arrest you.
We understand that a conviction of domestic violence, and the public record that goes along with it, can do irreparable damage to your own reputation and that of your family and children. We will do everything to ensure that your case is dealt with in a way that is appropriate to your family situation.
The State of Maryland takes charges of domestic violence very seriously. If the court finds you guilty of any form of abuse, the consequences will be swift and absolute. Courts are given room to move when sentencing, meaning you could be facing consequences including but not limited to:
Deportation: If you’re convicted of domestic violence, child abuse, or if you violate a protective order and you are not a U.S. Citizen you will be facing possible deportation.
Prison: Defying or violating a protective order is punishable with between 90 days and one year of prison time, with subsequent offenses being to the discretion of the court.
Fines: You could face anywhere from a $1,000 to $2,500 fine for violating a protective order, with subsequent offenses being to the discretion of the court. You may also have to pay your accuser’s court fees.
Restraining Orders: A restraining order could prohibit you from seeing your spouse, family members, and children, as well as restricting you from visiting their place of work, schools, and homes.
Access to Property: A protective order could award the victim exclusive use of the house or car for up to a year, meaning you would be forced to find alternate living accommodations at your expense.
Custody: You could temporarily or permanently lose custody of any children or pets you may have.
All of the above: The courts are not restricted to any one relief.
A protective order grants a victim of domestic violence a number of reliefs against the accused for a period of one year. This includes restraining orders, temporarily withholding child custody, forcing the accused to give up temporary rights to jointly owned property (including the family home and/or car), and financial support for the victims. The individual seeking a protective order must have been in a relationship with the alleged abuser for at least 90 days, be married to them, or be legally related to them. For a protective order to be given, the victim must prove that any one of the following occurred:
-Actual or Attempted Rape/Sexual Offense
-Threats of Serious Bodily Harm
Once any of those are established the judge will issue a protective order based on the individual circumstances of the case, including the financial needs of the family, the nature of the abuse, and the presence of any minors.
For individuals not qualified for a Protective Order (primarily those who have not been living with or in a relationship with the accused for at least 90 days) can file for a Peace Order. A Peace Order is available against anyone from a significant other to a stranger as long as one of the following is proved:
-Actual or Attempted Rape/Sexual Offense
-Threats of Violence
If any one of those occurred within 90 days, the judge can give multiple reliefs depending on the crime, including restraining orders, forcibly ending contact between the individuals, and mandatory counseling and/or mediation.
Defying either a Protective Order or a Peace Order will lead to fines, deportation, or jail time depending to the discretion of the court. If you have already been served with a court order and you are being accused of breaking it, you must contact an attorney immediately.