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A closer look at domestic violence in Maryland courts

In general, there can be criminal and civil consequences associated with domestic violence. In Maryland, domestic violence abuse is defined as assault; an act that places an individual in fear of imminent serious bodily harm; an act that causes serious bodily harm; attempted rape or an attempted sexual offense; rape or a sexual offense; stalking; and false imprisonment or kidnapping between family or household members.

While individuals accused of domestic violence may face serious potential criminal penalties, in Maryland domestic violence accusers may also be able to obtain protective orders against the individual accused of domestic violence. Subject to meeting certain criteria, an individual can file for a protective order which can order that the abuse is ended; place restrictions on the how near to the accuser the accused individual can be; require that the accused individual remains out of the home of the accuser; require that the accused individual no longer resides at the shared home of the accuser and accused individual if the two are married and living together at the time of the alleged abuse; require that the accused individual no longer resides at the shared home of the accuser and accused individual, if the two are unmarried but meet certain circumstances; and grant temporary custody of children the accuser and accused individual share.

Final protective orders may establish temporary visitation with children; award emergency family maintenance for financial support; award the use of a shared vehicle; order counseling; and require that that accused individual surrender firearms and pay costs associated with the case. Violations of protective orders can lead to additional serious consequences for individuals accused of domestic violence.

Domestic violence accusations are serious for all parties involved in an alleged domestic violence incident. Because of the serious nature of the potential penalties and consequences, including long-term consequences, they are facing, it is important for individuals facing domestic violence allegations and accusations to understand the different legal options available to them which includes criminal defense options.

Source: Maryland Courts, "Domestic Violence," Accessed July 14, 2015

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