Annapolis Domestic Violence Lawyer
In Annapolis, domestic violence is not considered a separate crime or even a set of crimes. Crimes of domestic violence are abusive acts committed between members of the same family or household.
Depending on the circumstances involved, courts may issue a protective order or a peace order in domestic violence situations. It is important to understand the terms of these orders because violating the terms constitutes a separate criminal offense.
Therefore, if you are charged, or may be charged with a domestic violence offense, it is a good idea to consult an Annapolis domestic violence lawyer who could provide advice on how to protect your rights, build the best possible defense, and help you avoid taking actions that could compound potential penalties. Call today to set up a consultation with a seasoned criminal defense attorney.
Domestic Violence Laws in Maryland
Section 4-502 of the Family Law statutes in Maryland specifies that any person who alleges to have been a harmed by abuse and who believes there is a danger of serious and immediate personal harm may request the help of a local law enforcement unit. Abuse is defined in the statutes to include:
- Any kind of assault
- Rape or attempted rape
- Certain sexual offenses (or attempted offenses)
- False imprisonment
- Criminal stalking
- Any act that causes serious bodily harm
- Any act that causes the victim to fear that serious bodily harm is imminent
Those accused of causing abuse would be charged under the criminal statute for the underlying offense and also may be subject to the provisions of a court order.
Possible Penalties for Domestic Violence Crimes
Since an individual charged with a domestic violence offense will actually be charged with the basic underlying crime such as first-degree assault or stalking, the penalties vary depending on the severity of the offense.
First-degree assault, for example, is punishable by up to 25 years in prison. This offense occurs when someone either causes or attempts to cause intentional serious injury to another or assaults another with a firearm. (Md. Crim. Law §3-202)
The less serious version of this offense, second-degree assault, involves the intentional infliction (or attempt to inflict) any injury on another. In domestic cases, second-degree assault is usually classified as a misdemeanor, but penalties include a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine as high as $2,500. (Md. Crim. Law §3-203.)
Other domestic violence crimes common in Annapolis include domestic reckless endangerment and stalking, both of which are punishable by up to five years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000. The penalties for domestic violence are severe, which is why it is essential for a defendant should obtain an Annapolis domestic violence lawyer.
Protective Orders and Peace Orders May Be Established
Those in a domestic relationship may seek a protective order from the court to prohibit another person in the relationship from making contact or taking certain actions.
Maryland law allows someone to seek an order against a current or former spouse, a person related by blood, marriage or adoption, a person with whom they have parented a child, a person with whom they have had an intimate relationship for at least three months during the past year, a step-parent or step-child with whom they have resided for at least three months of the past year, a person they have had sex with during the past year, or another person sharing a caretaker/vulnerable adult relationship.
Terms of the protective order will vary according to the petition and circumstances. An order may require the other party to stay out of a home, refrain from all contact, and temporarily lose custody of shared children and pets.
Those who are seeking protection from unwanted contact but who lack the degree of relationship required for a protective order may seek a peace order.
Get Help from an Annapolis Domestic Violence Attorney
Although some domestic violence crimes are nominally referred to in the statutes as misdemeanors, the potential penalties often include thousands of dollars in fines and many years in jail. In addition, there is also the potential for additional penalties if a protective order is violated, even accidentally.
So, if you are facing domestic violence charges, it is advisable to consult an Annapolis domestic violence lawyer who could make sure that your side of the story is heard and that every necessary step is taken to bring about the best possible resolution of the case.