It is scary to face accusations of domestic violence. Not only is there a degree of uncertainty to the legal consequences, but there is also a potential impact on your family life. With the proper legal representation, however, you can mount a rigorous defense against the allegations. Read on to learn more about:
- What Qualifies as Domestic Violence and Potential Loopholes;
- The Common Types of Evidence Used in Domestic Abuse Cases; and
- Your Best Defense Options if Accused of Domestic Abuse.
Domestic Violence in Maryland: What Applies and What Doesn’t
Domestic violence comes in different forms and is a real thing. Maryland law does have its own conditions for the legal definition of domestic violence—especially what it may consider as prosecutable in court. However, it is important to know what the legal standards are for domestic violence in the event you are accused of it: knowing what it is and isn’t may help you get out of facing charges.
The following are acts that may qualify as domestic violence:
- Assault or battery;
- Restraint or kidnapping;
- Sexual assault or rape;
- Harassment; or
Depending on the case, you may be able to work with your attorney to argue the alleged act was not domestic violence. Of course, there’s the chance it may still be considered any of the above crimes but wiping the domestic charges from your record is a step in the right direction.
Likewise, there are specific legally protected relationships required for a domestic violence charge. A few examples of these are:
- Spouses, current or former;
- Couples with a child;
- Blood relatives, adoptees, or in-laws;
- Foster parents and children; or
- Dating couples.
Same with the above acts, if the relationship does not satisfy one that is legally protected, then you may have some wiggle room in terms of getting the domestic charge dropped.
Domestic Violence Evidence: Knowing What You May Face
Evidence comes in all shapes and sizes, forms and figures, but there are types that may be more material in domestic violence than others.
Forms or documents are a type of evidence seen in every trial, but in a domestic situation, you may see any of the following:
- Arrest records, copies of relevant criminal convictions, other court or criminal justice-related documents;
- Police reports from any call placed relating to the above-listed crime; or
- Medical reports of injuries related to abuse.
You may also see pictures, objects, or other pieces of physical evidence material to a domestic abuse case, such as:
- Photos of an injury, damage to a household, or weapons or objects used in an assault;
- Actual objects involved in the abuse or crime; or
- Personal documents such as diaries, journals, or datebooks that documented the abuse or pattern of abuse.
Finally, spoken forms of evidence may come to trial in the following ways:
- Testimony via deposition or in-court; or
- Recorded phone calls to 911.
Though this evidence seems overwhelming, there are always defenses out there to suit your case. In addition, pieces of evidence are never safe; a vital defense attorney will examine everything potentially used against you and check if there are any holes in the prosecution’s argument.
Your Domestic Violence Defense: Taking the Best Route Possible
It goes without saying domestic violence accusations are serious and may have long-lasting consequences on your life—especially when it comes to your future relationship with your family.
However, there are cases where a person files domestic violence charges for a minor issue. Cases involving protective orders where a person wants to legally halt communications with a family member could be motivated by accusations of stalking. After further investigation, maybe the ‘stalking’ amounted to incessant phone calls or texts left unanswered with little attempt to make physical contact. In this case, your lawyer may seek a de minimis dismissal on the grounds that the conduct is too trivial. If any alleged crime involves conduct that may lead to you facing serious charges, de minimis is a solid defense to pursue with your attorney.
In another situation, you may face accusations after a tense physical altercation where you had to defend yourself against the attacks of another. It is not uncommon for someone to file assault (or domestic assault) charges after a fight even though they were the ones who “started it.” In this case, demonstrating self-defense is crucial for avoiding domestic violence charges.
Of course, if you simply were not involved in any abuse, you can pursue a not guilty defense. With this approach, your lawyer will gather their own evidence to support that claim—or to show your accuser lied.
Like many defense situations, if police arrest you, your lawyer will look into the circumstances of your arrest and how law enforcement treated you. Any infringements on your rights (not being read your Miranda Rights, subjected to police brutality, or overstepping to obtain evidence) may be used to get your case dismissed entirely.
In any event, if you find yourself in the crosshairs of domestic violence accusations, contact our offices for a free initial consultation. Our lawyers both specialize in criminal defense and family law, making them a useful tool for your legal needs. Your relationship with your family and the strength of your future go hand-in-hand; the attorneys here at JC Law understand that and will help fight for both.