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Domestic Violence

In Virginia, it is crime to injure, attempt to injure, or even threaten to injure a member of your family or household (Virginia Code Section 18.2-57.2). Any form of assaultive behavior toward a family member may be a crime in its own right, but if a perceived victim is a family or household member, there will most likely be a prosecution for the separate and distinct crime of domestic violence.

The persons sought to be protected by a protective order and against whom you may be restrained from having any contact with include:  spouses, former spouses, parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, in-laws (who live in the same house), people who have children together, and people who live together or have lived together during the past year (Section 16.1-228)

If an alleged act of domestic violence occurs, almost always a protective order is issued restraining the accused from having contact with various family members identified in the protective order. Once a protective order has been served upon a person, it becomes a crime to violate or disobey the specific terms of the protective order, which may involve a prohibition against even the slightest attempted communication with members of your family or household who are the subjects sought to be protected.

In Maryland, there is no specific law prohibiting domestic violence. Instead, defendants accused of assaulting, stalking, or threatening intimate partners can be charged with criminal offenses like first or second-degree assault under Maryland Code Sections 3-202 and 3-203 or harassment under Maryland Code Section 3-803. More stringent penalties may be imposed upon defendants who are accused of domestic violence when a child is in the house, after a 2014 change to the law, which could constitute child abuse.

Defendants may be prohibited from keeping weapons while subject to a protective order, and a protective order can also prevent a domestic violence defendant from seeing a spouse or children or living in a shared family home. Because the consequences extend beyond criminal prosecution, defendants need a domestic violence lawyer in Maryland who can help to move the domestic violence case forward quickly and effectively within the legal system.

Section 4-501 of Maryland’s Family Law statute has a relatively broad definition of domestic violence, encompassing a spectrum of events which may occur between household members or individuals within the same family. Included in this category are transgressions such as:

  • Physical assault
  • Attempted rape
  • Actual rape
  • False imprisonment or preventing freedom of movement
  • Kidnapping
  • Creation of fear of imminent harm in another
  • Stalking
  • Physicality producing serious bodily harm

Further, it should be noted that an accused party does not necessarily have to be the spouse of the accuser. The fact is that complaints of this type may be lodged by anyone who is a blood relation, co-habitating partners, those related through marriage or adoption, a natural child, step-parents, a household member or an adult without the necessary mental or physical ability to meet his or her own needs on a daily basis.

As soon as you charged with domestic violence or are served with a protective order, the first thing you should do is to call a domestic violence lawyer. Our domestic violence lawyer will investigate your case thoroughly, using any information you can provide as well as utilizing outside resources. We understand how difficult domestic violence charges can be, and we are committed to helping you lessen the impact of these charges on your personal and professional life.