How Does Maryland Actually Define Domestic Violence?
In Maryland, there is no set definition per se for domestic violence. It is not defined as only physical violence, but any type of behavior exhibited for the purposes of gaining power and control over a spouse, partner, girlfriend, boyfriend, or family member.
When Police Are Called To The Scene Of An Alleged Domestic Violence Incident In Maryland, Is An Arrest Always Going To Be Made?
The decision to arrest someone at the scene of an alleged domestic violence incident in Maryland is made on a case-by-case basis. Typically, an arrest will be made if there is a noticeable physical injury on one of the parties. If the police officer did not witness the alleged assault and there are no visible physical injuries, then they may refer the parties to the district court commissioner with instructions that either party can file charges against the other, but that the police department will not file charges against either party.
Does An Alleged Physical Altercation Have To Have Taken Place In Order For An Arrest To Be Made, Or Is A Threat Of Violence Enough In Maryland?
A physical altercation is not necessary in order for an assault to have taken place; a threat is enough to constitute an assault. Whether or not an arrest will be made will depend on the type and amount of evidence in the case.
I’ve Just Been Arrested On Charges Related To Domestic Violence In Frederick County; What Exactly Am I Being Charged With?
In Maryland, domestic violence is not a charge in and of itself, but a term used to indicate something about the relationship between the alleged offender and alleged victim. Typically, a defendant will be charged with first or second-degree assault and some accompanying charges. The state attorney’s office will send a notice to the defendant or the defendant’s attorney stating that through their investigation, they have deemed the incident of assault domestically-related. The notice will explain how a conviction will affect the defendant’s rights as they pertain to gun ownership and rules of expungement, as well as sentencing in the future.
What Generally Happens During The First Few Hours And Days Following A Domestic Violence-Related Arrest?
Once someone has been arrested, they will be taken to the Frederick County Adult Detention Center to see a commissioner. The commissioner will list the charges and penalties associated with the charge, and decide to release the alleged offender, give them bond, or hold them without bond. Typically, the commissioners in Frederick County hold domestic violence cases without bond, which means defendants must wait to see a judge. Judges in this county are tough on domestic violence charges, especially those alleging strangulation. It is very important to have a knowledgeable attorney who knows the judges and prosecutors and can argue for conditions of release.
When Will I See A Frederick County Judge After An Arrest On Domestic Violence-Related Charges?
If an individual is not released, they will remain in custody until they see a judge on the next available bail review docket. Typically, someone who is arrested and processed between six and eight o’clock in the morning will see a judge that same day around one or two in the afternoon. Someone who is arrested later in the day will have to wait until the following day to make the list. Unfortunately, being arrested on a Friday means having to spend the weekend in jail until the next bail review docket on the following Monday.
Is An Order Of Protection Or Restraining Order Automatically Put Into Place When Charges Related To Domestic Violence Are Filed In Washington County?
An order of protection or restraining order is not automatically put into place when charges related to domestic violence are filed in Washington County. A victim must seek a protective order on their own, but the police who respond to the scene of the alleged domestic violence incident should explain the process of obtaining that order of protection and provide the appropriate paperwork. This is called a screening, whereby the officers ask cooperative victims a series of questions in order to ascertain the level of danger they are in and the services for which they may be eligible.
Can I Still Be In Touch With My Children If I’m Facing Domestic Violence-Related Charges?
If the children witnessed or were otherwise involved in the incident, then the alleged victim (who is typically the parent of the children) could seek a protective order that covers the children and prevents the defendant from seeing them. After reading the statement of probable cause and hearing what’s alleged, a judge or commissioner could choose to make a no-contact order with the children a condition of bond. These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.
What Evidence Is Helpful To A Criminal Defense Attorney In A Domestic Violence-Related Case? What Can And Should A Client Share With His Or Her Attorney Right From The Start?
It’s very important for the client to be honest with his or her attorney so that the attorney can represent them in the best way possible. From the start, an attorney should identify whether any witnesses can corroborate the defendant’s version of the story, and collect other forms of evidence such as photographs of injuries. Most importantly, the attorney should obtain a full list of everyone who was at the scene so that those people can be interviewed immediately before there is a chance or an opportunity for the story to change.
The Person I’m Accused Of Harming Is Trying To Contact Me And Says They Will Talk To Police To Set The Record Straight. Should I Encourage Them To Do This?
Once an individual has been charged with domestic violence, they should not have any contact with the person who has accused them. It is very common for two parties to reconcile and for the original victim to no longer want charges pressed. If this is the case, we recommend having the attorney contact the state prosecutor and inform them that the victim is recanting or changing their story. In Frederick County, it is routine practice for the prosecutor or victim-witness coordinator to speak with the victim regardless of the situation in order to determine their intentions in the case and what they would like to see happen.
If The Alleged Victim Changes Their Story After Charges Have Been Filed Or Doesn’t Want Charges Pressed Against Me, Will The Case Be Dropped?
Once charges are filed by the police, the case is solely in the hands of the state, which means the prosecutor has the ultimate decision as to whether or not the case will proceed. Just because the alleged victim changes their story does not mean that the case will automatically be dismissed.
While A Case Is Pending, Should Someone Facing Domestic Violence-Related Charges In Washington County Seek Counseling Or Anger Management? Would That Show Guilt Or Help The Case?
We routinely recommend that our clients immediately start an abuser intervention program through Heartly House, as well as anger management classes if we think that is appropriate based on the alleged facts. Both programs are routinely ordered as a condition of probation, so the defendant may ultimately have to participate in these programs anyway. By having clients start these programs on the front end, we are able to work from a more favorable disposition and gain bargaining power with the state attorney’s office.
What Are Some Potential Defenses To Domestic Violence Charges?
In the state of Maryland, self-defense is a viable defense to an assault as long as the amount of force used was equal to or less than what was necessary for defense. If someone uses an amount of force that is greater than what the primary aggressor used, then the self-defense defense may not work for them. Other defenses can be employed on the basis of inconsistent statements made by the alleged victim.
What Are The Penalties Under Maryland Law When Someone Is Convicted Of Domestic Violence-Related Charges?
A second-degree assault is a 10-year misdemeanor in the state of Maryland, and a first-degree assault is a 25-year felony. Penalties can range from a disposition of charges being placed on the set docket (which is the court’s inactive docket), to a probation before judgment where there is no conviction, to jail time between one day and 25 years. Ultimately, the penalty will depend on the defendant’s prior history and the facts that are alleged in a specific case.
Is There Any Way To Have A Domestic Violence-Related Conviction Removed From My Record?
The Justice Reinvestment Act of 2016 allows for the expungement of a domestically-related conviction for second-degree assault once 15 years have passed from the time probation ended. Before the Justice Reinvestment Act became law, a second-degree assault conviction could not be expunged.
Is There Anything Else That You Would Like To Add On These Topics, Especially Considering COVID-19?
Anyone who has been accused of or is being investigated for a domestic violence charge should not wait for the courts to reopen to get an attorney. In Frederick County, domestic violence cases are taken very seriously and are likely to be among the first cases heard once the courts reopen. The statements provided by alleged victims often don’t reflect the whole truth, and the consequences of a domestic violence conviction can severely impact many aspects of a person’s life. Despite COVID-19, we are fully staffed and available Monday through Thursday from 9 am to 5 pm, and Friday from 8 am to 4 pm. With the implementation of many safety procedures, we continue helping anyone in need.
For more information on Domestic Violence, a free case evaluation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (301) 662-2911 today.
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