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When can domestic violence lead to a warrantless arrest?

Allegations of domestic violence are very serious. Not only could such charges lead to criminal penalties, but such allegations could have a very detrimental effect on a person's reputation in his or her community. However, Maryland law has provisions that allow for warrantless arrests in certain instances of domestic violence.

Under Maryland law, a police officer may make a warrantless arrest if there is probable cause that a person committed an act of domestic violence to their spouse or someone else living with him or her, there is evidence that the spouse was physically injured and unless the police officer immediately arrests the person the person either may not be apprehended, may physically injure another or damage property, or may tamper, try to get rid of or destroy evidence. However, for such a warrantless arrest to be made, the police must have received a report within 48 hours of the alleged act of domestic violence.

This is a serious law, as in general police need a warrant to arrest someone. Moreover, oftentimes these types of incidents are "he said, she said," in which each party has a different version of what happened and why. Moreover the law provides that if there is probable cause to believe that both parties committed acts of battery against each other, it is up to the police to determine which party was the primary aggressor and which party acted in self-defense, if any.

This law leaves a lot up to the perception of the police officer, which may or may not work in a person's favor. If a person is arrested under this law, but believes the arrest was unlawful, he or she may want to contact a criminal defense attorney to see what steps can be taken to clear his or her name.

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