Loads of people throw around the term “domestic violence,” but do you really know what it means? Does that mean every act of physical frustration is worthy of calling the police?
If you think that you are about to get in trouble for domestic violence, here’s what you should know:
- What Maryland legally considers to be domestic violence;
- What situations merit a call to the local police barracks;
- The two times police might not want to be called for “domestic violence.”
What Is Domestic Violence in Maryland?
Domestic violence is a bit of an odd situation when it comes to Maryland criminal law.
While the term “domestic violence” isn’t strictly defined, “domestic abuse” is specifically mentioned within Maryland laws – specifically, its protective order process.
Therefore, Maryland law basically codifies domestic violence as criminal acts against another member of the household, particularly one romantic partner against another.
These acts of harm can take a wide variety of forms, from assault and sexual offenses to false imprisonment, child abuse, or even stalking.
The key is that these criminal activities are committed against a known, trusted individual. The breaking of that trust is what can elevate the charge from simple assault to aggravated assault, or lead to surrounding charges, as well.
So, think about domestic violence-related charges as a type of criminal charge, not a specific singular charge in and of itself.
Three Situations Should You Call the Police for Potential Domestic Violence
Fights between significant others are common, but ones that involve violence or serious threats are not normal and should be reported.
Police want civilians to call the emergency line when someone allegedly:
- Intentionally caused physical injuries to a family member, from getting shoved down the steps to throwing dishware at someone’s head;
- Credible threats toward another family member, the household’s children, or even themselves (“I’ll kill myself if you don’t do that!”); or
- Commits any type of psychological violence, such as coercion or blackmail.
As a general rule, the police appreciate calls from people genuinely worried about the safety of themselves or a loved one.
The Two Times You Should NOT Call the Police
That said, police are not there to settle heated domestic arguments and should only be called if there is genuine fear or an actual injury.
Calling the police in any situation that is not an emergency will result in a loss of resources and serious consequences for the alleged abuser.
If you are in one of the following situations, then think twice before calling the emergency line.
- As a scare tactic for your partner. Using the threat of arrest or legal retaliation to convince your loved one to do what you want them to do will not be looked on kindly by law enforcement. In fact, it may lead to investigations against yourself!
- To settle a dispute. The police aren’t your personal referees for arguments, no matter how bitter. They’re there to keep the peace in the area – not the peace in your relationship. If you need a neutral party to help resolve an argument, then consider professional therapeutic services or mediation services of your local family law attorney.
As a rule of thumb, if there is no reason to believe that things will not get violent, there is no need for the police to intervene immediately via 911.
Those concerned about a systemic abusive situation can file a police report at their local barracks or by calling the non-emergency line for their region.
Once the police are called, the case is out of the caller’s hands. The police will file a report, and the state can choose to prosecute or not, depending on the situation.
The caller cannot impact whether an aggressor is charged with domestic violence-related crimes.
If you or someone else finds themselves at the wrong end of a domestic violence charge, then you need someone who’s willing to listen to the whole story – and give you the criminal defense to which you are Constitutionally entitled.
The Law Office of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, LLC criminal defense attorneys will listen to you and make sure the court hears what you have to say, too, before your life, your family, and your reputation are shattered by hearsay.
Schedule a free initial consultation at your convenience to find your legal champion.