Representation of Those Accused of Domestic Violence
Domestic Violence in Maryland
For anyone defending against a petition seeking a protective order from domestic violence, the potential consequences extend far beyond the entry of the protective order or even criminal prosecution. In trials of this nature, the stakes are remarkably high, as respondents could be prevented from living in their home or seeing their children while the case’s outcome is still pending. At Z Family Law, we believe everyone has the right to a fair hearing and an effective strategy designed with your best interests in mind. When you hire us, you’ll have a team of qualified domestic violence attorneys committed to hearing your side of the story and exploring every possible angle so we can build an informed legal strategy that works for you.
Types of Offenses
Maryland’s Family Law statute follows a relatively broad definition of domestic violence, encompassing a spectrum of events which may transpire between individuals within the same family or household members. Transgressions in this category can include:
- Physical assault
- Attempted rape
- Actual rape
- False imprisonment or restricting freedom of movement
- Instilling fear of bodily harm
- Physical violence that inflicts serious bodily harm
- Revenge porn
Despite society’s traditional perception of domestic violence, it’s important to note that the accused party isn’t always married to the accuser. In reality, complaints of this nature may be lodged by anyone who is a blood relative, cohabitating partner, relative through marriage or adoption, child, step-parent, certain types of household member, or adult lacking the mental or physical ability to meet their own needs on a daily basis.
What is Spousal Abuse?
Spousal Abuse is defined as a behavioral cycle — either physical or emotional in nature — during which one spouse uses threats or harmful actions (or both) to instill fear in the other. Aptly named, spousal abuse refers only to the dynamic between two parties who are legally married, and it can result in a protective order or even criminal charges.
Criminal charges associated with spousal abuse carry serious consequences ranging from significant amounts of jail time to high fines and the probability of probation. For those facing criminal charges, it’s possible that Fifth Amendment considerations and diversion programs can be beneficial to your case’s outcome. It is critical when defending against a protective order, a respondent is careful not to prejudice (or harm) their defense in a companion criminal proceeding. To understand how these stipulations might make a difference for you, we recommend consulting with an experienced Maryland domestic violence attorney as soon as possible.
Aftermath of Accusations
When an incident at home escalates and you’re accused of domestic violence, your life can change overnight, and the resulting impact could be as destructive as it is swift. Pursuant to Family Code Section 4-509, there are even some occasions in which law enforcement personnel have the right to arrest individuals accused of domestic violence without obtaining a warrant first.
In order for officers to take this type of action, they must reasonably believe that a violent act occurred and that the person accused is likely to inflict further injury, tamper with evidence, or evade arrest. When circumstances like this are at play, it’s vital that the accused party take immediate steps to secure the counsel of an experienced Maryland domestic violence attorney committed to protecting their rights.
Someone accused of domestic violence may be accountable to protective orders which require that they refrain from contacting or seeing the accuser/any involved minor children.
Protective orders may prevent respondents from threatening their accuser, living in a shared home, taking possession of pets, keeping custody of children, and maintaining access to any firearms suspected to have been involved in the incident. Before orders of this type can be enforced for a year or longer, accused individuals must be given the opportunity to be heard in court.
Building a Domestic Violence Defense
Being found guilty of domestic violence can bring exceptionally challenging consequences, including monetary fines, delayed career advancement, broken custody arrangements, and dismantled personal relationships — not to mention incarceration. This is precisely why it’s essential for anyone facing domestic violence charges to seek legal representation dedicated to upholding procedural requirements and protecting the rights of the accused at every step of the way.
What To Do If You’re Accused of Committing Domestic Violence:
Being accused of domestic violence can be a terrifying experience. Whether you’ve been falsely accused or have made some serious mistakes, there are many important considerations to be aware of that can help you move forward. First things first: Take a deep breath. Find your place of calm, and review this checklist before you do anything else. Whenever you’re ready to figure out the right next step, we’re here to help.
- Do not contact the person accusing you of domestic violence. This is not the time for grand, romantic gestures. This is also not the time to resolve the situation by yourself.
- Do not allow others to contact the person accusing you of domestic violence on your behalf.
- Do not contact your accuser’s friends, family, or employer.
- Do not post about this issue or your accuser on social media.
- Do not act on emotion, even if you are feeling hurt and betrayed.
- Do not delete text messages, e-mails, social media posts, or other potential evidence…even if that evidence is not in your favor.
- Do not cancel credit cards, turn off utilities, or cut off any phones. Maintain the financial status quo until you seek legal advice.
- Do not engage in any form of self-help. Seek out the services of an attorney who can provide you with quality, personally-tailored legal advice.
- Keep a cool head. Now is not the time to be reactionary.
- Find a trusted professional to confide in. Consider talking to a therapist, a lawyer, or your pastor.
- Locate and identify a safe place to stay that is separate from the person accusing you of perpetrating domestic violence. If you can, take clothing, money, and personal items you will need to keep you safe and apart from your accuser for approximately two weeks. While you may end up staying away much longer, two weeks is a good start and will give you some room to plan your next move.
- Write down your thoughts and feelings to help you keep organized.
- If you are served with a protective order, follow all directions in the order, even if they
seem unfair, and seek the advice of an attorney as quickly as possible. Time is of the essence in a domestic violence matter.
- If you have been injured in a physical confrontation, seek medical attention right away.
- Consider documenting any injuries with photographs.
Take a hard look in the mirror. If your actions have been inappropriate or you’re not behaving as the best version of yourself, seek help.
Finding the Right Domestic Violence Attorney for You
At Z Family Law, we know there are two sides to every story — and we’re committed to hearing yours. Our team of qualified domestic violence attorneys will take the time to understand the factors leading up to the incident(s) in question and explore every possible line of defense. By combining our vast legal experience, our tenured team will design a tailored strategy to help you take back your life and fight for the second chance you’ve been seeking.