Bethesda Domestic Violence Lawyer
Due to the serious penalties and emotional aspect of domestic violence charges, it is crucial to consult with an experienced Bethesda domestic violence lawyer as soon as possible to begin building a defense. An experienced defense attorney who is familiar with Maryland laws, as well as the judges and prosecutors within their jurisdiction, will be able to build a defense for their client that may mitigate the damage of the offense as much as possible. They are aware of the fact that a criminal charge will not only affect their client, but it will also affect the client’s family. With the many repercussions that can arise by being charged, even without being convicted, a domestic violence lawyer can do everything in their ability to defend their client.
Understanding A Domestic Violence Charge
Domestic violence is not a charge in of itself. It is an overarching term that encompasses various things, including:
- Assault charges.
- Peace and protective orders.
Assault charges, as well as peace and protective orders, are typically simple in nature. They are not criminal and a person can file a petition for either one against an individual and perceive them in that realm as well as the criminal arena if there are criminal charges pending.
An individual would file by going to the commissioner’s office with the police and filing an application for charges. Charges can also be filed by the police without the consent of the victim if they go to the scene of a domestic violence crime, interview witnesses, see injuries and decide that charges are necessary. In order to defense against this order or make modifications, a domestic violence attorney in Bethesda is important.
A violation of the peace or protective order carries up to 90 days in jail, and that is where an individual can be charged; a second-degree assault charge can accompany violations of protective order or peace order charges.
If somebody is convicted in a domestic violence case, probation is almost certain. The court system will want to ensure that the individual who unduly committed violence against another will change their ways or will not have any future violations of any orders. The only way to do that is to put the individual who has been convicted on probation.
A protective order is something that an individual can petition for against someone that is related by blood or marriage or someone that had an interrelationship and has cohabited. Anybody else is only a peace order. With a protective order, the defendant will be served a week after the order has been placed. Once an individual has been served with a protective order, they will have a hearing whereby the judge will listen to the defendant and the petitioner to determine whether or not the petitioner has the basis to be granted a protective order. If it is determined that the protective order is necessary, it can be applied for up to a year.
If someone files a peace or protective order, there are no penalties or probation. An order will be entered, which will state that they are restricted from interacting with the individual that requested the order. Forms of interaction that are restricted include:
- Being close in proximity.
Prosecution of Domestic Violence Crimes
Unlike many other types of charges, such as drug possession, trespassing or disorderly conduct, there is an emotional aspect with domestic violence. There is oftentimes an emotional victim. An individual has suffered injuries, so there is the added pressure for prosecutors to not only move forward and prosecute but to ensure that the victim feels that justice has been served. At the same time, prosecutors and judges are supposed to do their job with diligence. It can sometimes be difficult for a prosecutor to separate themselves from the emotions of a case, particularly when dealing with domestic violence. They are less likely to let things go or to work out generous resolutions.
If a petition for protective order or peace order has been filed, a prosecutor will not be involved. Because it is a petition in a civil arena, attorneys are not necessary. However, if either the petitioner or defendant wants an attorney, they can, but will have to pay for one. In contrast, if there is a violation of a peace or protective order, or there is a secondary assault charge, a prosecutor will be involved and a Bethesda domestic violence lawyer should be consulted immediately.
Where Domestic Cases Are Heard
Protective orders and peace orders typically take place at the district court. An individual will file a petition to the commissioner’s office in the district court and the hearings are held in that court, as well. In certain instances, if it is deemed appropriate, they can be heard in circuit court. Protective orders are also always bench hearings or trials; secondary assault charges can be a bench trial, but the defendant has the right to request a jury trial if charged.
What To Consider
If someone is facing charges due to domestic violence, there are certain things they should do to ensure a favorable outcome, which are:
- They should hire an attorney
- Learn more about their case so that they can defend themselves
- Do everything in their power to try and protect themselves
Not to undermine victims of domestic violence, but very frequently an individual is charged not because they did something wrong, but because the alleged victim is seeking retribution for something else. They may be angry at their spouse, relative, or whoever it may be, but frequently the charges are unfounded. An individual who has been charged must move quickly to make sure that any evidence that supports their defense is preserved and that they have the legal support needed from a Bethesda domestic violence attorney to defend themselves.