Domestic violence is not a crime by itself in Maryland. In the past, domestic violence was charged in exactly the same way as a bar fight -- as assault.
New laws that went into effect this month do not create a new domestic violence charge but they do something akin to it: they allow judges to label a crime "domestically related."
Prosecutors may also attach this label when the parties to the crime are believed to have had a sexual relationship sometime in the past year. This means that violence between a boyfriend and girlfriend will now be labeled as domestically related when, in the past, that label went only to spouses, cohabitators and co-parents.
These changes allow judges and peace officers to watch for patterns of behavior and could lead to additional peace / protective orders and other consequences for criminal defendants.
Another significant new law makes it a crime to harass someone electronically. In other words, cyberstalking, threats on Facebook and threats by texting can now be charged under Maryland's harassment laws.
Other changes include:
- Victims of domestic violence will be able to receive unemployment benefits if they leave an employment due to domestic violence
- Peace orders and protective orders can be extended
- It is now possible to remove some domestic violence records from judiciary websites
Now more than ever, if you are facing assault charges for a domestic incident, you can benefit from the help of an aggressive criminal defense lawyer who knows the laws and how to use them to protect your rights and your future.
Source: York Daily Record, "In Maryland, new domestic violence laws will go into effect this month," Courtney Pomeroy, Oct. 6, 2012.