How Are Domestic Violence and Domestic Assault Different? – What To Know

It is human nature sometimes to get angry and sometimes act out. If you are worried that you might be a defendant for a domestic assault or violence case, it's an intelligent thing that you learn the difference in each so you can prepare.

In this article, you'll learn:

  • The difference between assault and domestic violence;
  • How the court handles each; And
  • How a protective order will help you.

What is Domestic Assault?

Maryland only has two counts of assault, assault in the first degree and assault in the second degree. Second-degree assault is a misdemeanor charge.  First-degree assault is a serious felony charge. A first-degree assault charge can also include an assault scenario with a weapon that can cause serious physical harm; this is sometimes referred to as aggravated assault.

However, second-degree assaults are minor injuries or threats, including:

  • Trying to punch someone.
  • Threats to kill someone over differences of opinion, politics, or disagreements.

Actual contact with an individual is another form of assault.

When these scenarios involve people we live with or family, they become domestic-related.

What is Domestic Violence?

 There are generally four recognized types of domestic violence:

    • Physical abuse happens any time someone intentionally physically harms their partner or family member.
    • Emotional abuse happens when someone uses psychological tactics to undermine the victim's sense of self-worth, like stalking, manipulating, intimidating, or emotionally controlling a loved one.
    • Economic abuse happens when a person is prevented from maintaining financial independence, "trapping" the person in the relationship due to financial dependence.
    • Finally, sexual abuse occurs when someone is forced into sexual acts, like rape, sexual assault, or child predation.

Domestic violence is often considered a specific type of crime, which means that you can be charged with other things on top of domestic violence. In general, domestic violence includes physical and psychological abuse, and because of that, domestic violence charges are not always brought after the first report of physical abuse.

Some other factors play a role in charging someone with domestic violence. For example, charges will worsen if the victim's injuries are severe. Charges are more severe if minors are present. The presence of a protective order can also impact the nature of the charges faced by a defendant.

These are all factors to be considered before drafting a criminal defense strategy.

Domestic Assault vs. Domestic Violence

Domestic assault and domestic violence are slightly different in definition but dealt with the same way. The only difference between assault and domestic violence charges in Maryland is that domestic violence includes situations involving harassment or stalking. The domestic part can extend beyond a spouse to include a partner, child, or vulnerable adult.

Domestic assault and domestic violence charges should always be taken seriously, as such allegations can significantly impact defendants' professional and personal futures.

Domestic Violence vs. Domestic Assault: The Case

There is no difference between assault and domestic violence charges in Maryland because they are labeled domestic cases. The real difference may come between standard assault or violence cases since domestic implies an already established relationship.

If a case may be labeled domestic, it does not change the penalty, but a judge may err on the more aggressive side because of the domestic relationship's implications. If the case is labeled domestic, the process may be slightly different, but the prison time is no harsher.

They might send the person to a couple's counseling or anger management classes or may have the person do community service. The judge focuses on the fact that this is a domestic matter and merits close attention.

There is no difference in long-term consequences for domestic violence charges and assault charges. One of the consequences of being charged with assault is that anyone looking at the person's record considers them to be a violent person.

Protective Orders and Peace Orders Can Help

A protective order is a type of civil order that, as the name suggests, protects the victim by banning the other from doing certain acts. They can stop the person from doing essentially anything involving you. Standard protective orders can make you stop abusing the plaintiff, move, etc. The protective order works as a restraining order but more limiting.

A Peace Order offers anyone assaulted to get some protection in place. Unlike protective orders, the nature of the relationship between the parties is not a factor. If an individual is entitled to relief in a protective order hearing, they cannot seek relief under the Peace Order Act.

Also, a peace order is for someone you do not or no longer (for more than one year) have a sexual relationship with.

In any event, domestic assault or domestic violence cases can seriously tarnish your reputation, on top of the other problems it will cause. In cases as sensitive as you abusing or violating your partner, you'll need aggressive legal representation. Give us a call today for a free initial consultation to see how we can get you back to your everyday life.

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