} }] }

The Weekly Writ: Maryland Legal News You Can Use for April 5, 2021

Today on April 5, 2021, read about:

Of course, if these or any other legal questions are impacting you and your family, then don't hesitate to reach out to JC Law for your free initial consultation with one of our expert domestic, criminal, or civil litigation attorneys.

Experts Were Right, Domestic Violence Rates Skyrocket During Pandemic

Original Story

What's Going On:

The pandemic is taking its toll on all of us. Unfortunately for some, that toll is domestic violence. Since the beginning of the pandemic, cases have gone up nearly one-third in Baltimore City alone.

Following lockdown orders in March 2020, a national study found domestic violence-related cases rose 8%. Many victims are female, but some have been children as layoffs and furloughs cause families financial strain.

Why This Matters To You:

Over a year ago, all our lives changed. COVID-19 dramatically altered our personal space. We had to isolate in close quarters for long periods with little to no social interaction outside of those in our own homes.

Some have dealt with depression and loneliness due to living alone, while others deal with abuse from family members. Arguments amongst spouses and significant others turn hostile and violent because there feels like no escape. You are stuck inside, no job, and are worried about supplying the necessities to live.

These stressors lead to volatile situations when people are in close quarters and isolated from the outside world. When violence becomes involved, so do protective orders and domestic violence-related charges.

Protective orders add more stress as they prevent contact with the accuser, which means loss of home and potentially job, depending on how an employer handles these allegations and incidents.

Both parties involved in domestic violence need help and resources to get out of the relationship. In times like these, it is not easy to deal with all that is happening. It is time to have serious talks when tensions rise and to remember violence is not the answer to the problem.

These could be the signs that the relationship is over and it's time to discuss divorce or separation, options far better than domestic violence.

Learn More About Domestic Violence In Maryland

Prohibition Of The Prosecution Of Sex Crimes Committed In A Marriage Could End In Maryland Soon

Original Story

What's Going On:

Legislation from Maryland State Senators to repeal prohibiting the prosecution of some sexual crimes because the assailant is the victim's spouse is moving to the House of Delegates.

Under current Maryland law, crimes, including first- and second-degree rape and third and fourth-degree sexual offenses, are not prosecuted if the victim was the defendant's legal spouse at the time of the crime. Proponents of the bill call the law antiquated and from a time when spouses were equal to property.

Thirty-three other states have already put laws on the books repealing marital exemption from sexual crimes.

The bill also clarifies what sexual contact is by defining it as the intentional touching of genitals or other intimate areas for sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse. If no consent, the act is unwanted and criminal.

The bill awaits approval by a House committee.

Why This Matters To You:

Marriage is a union between two people and for many years, what happened inside the marriage was private. States, including Maryland, are beginning to remove some privacy protections as more crimes occur inside the marriage.

People are not property and should never be treated that way. These proposed bills address antiquated thinking and offer protections to those who are possibly dealing with sexual violence in a marriage.

Sometimes, it is not criminal what is taking place in the bedroom. People like and get aroused by all sorts of things. Some include rough and aggressive behavior, including control and dominance.

Fetish behavior between couples is consensual and healthily discussed between them. The bill in question addresses issues when one spouse is forced into an uncomfortable act or doesn't want to.

Domestic violence and sex crimes are two topics are legislators have focused on during the 2021 session. Times are changing, and laws are too, which means your marriage could end up less private than before.

More About Sex Crimes In Maryland

Lawmakers Want Mental Health Facilities To Change How They Report Sex Abuse and Harassment

Original Story

What's Going On:

Many bills passed through the Senate and House on their way to law this year. One, in particular, would change the reporting of sexual abuse at mental health facilities.

According to the bill, reports of harassment or abuse must be reported within 24 hours. The current law has reports go to local social services and law enforcement. However, most cases end up handled in-house with no criminal repercussion.

Advocates claim the people in these facilities are more vulnerable to sexual violence because of their diagnosis and lack of resources to report allegations. Part of the bill requires the Behavioral Health Administration to create policies and training for staff and educate patients on how to identify and address sexual abuse and harassment.

Why This Matters To You:

People who work in the healthcare field care about the people who they serve. Sometimes, there are bad apples in the bunch, as is the life case.

Mental health facilities treat Marylanders who are already vulnerable and looking for acceptance. Because treatment for these problems is intimate in nature and knowledge situations may arise unintended.

A doctor treating a patient with kindness and empathy they have never experienced could lead them to believe the provider "loves" them or is "attracted" to them. Treatment often involves intimate details and knowledge of the patient, which leads to a belief that this person understands and gets them.

This way of thinking, called transference, could lead a patient to flirt or make advances toward the healthcare provider, causing an incident of sexual harassment.

The opposite effect is not new. The term for it is the "Florence Nightingale Effect." So, instances of abuse and harassment are possible on both sides. Allegations of sexual abuse or harassment carry severe consequences and need careful handling to ensure a proper and just outcome.

More About Abuse Charges In Maryland

Maryland House Of Delegates Approves Ending Juvenile Life Sentences, Bill Is On To The Senate

Original Story

What's Going On:

The Maryland House of Delegates approved the bill banning life sentences without parole for juveniles while also providing sentence reconsideration.

The bill included stiff debate from opponents and advocates and many attempts at amendments. The House's only modification ended up being the removal of judges requiring completion of an abuse treatment or GED program as a condition of release.

Due to the change, the bill heads back to the Senate, where they can approve it or force a negotiation on the difference.

Why This Matters To You:

Second chances are at the heart of the American Dream. The punishment and penalties for crimes serve the purpose to deter and redeem.

A young developing mind needs guidance, routine, and consequences to learn and grow into a contributing member of society. Some youth's life circumstances prevent them from receiving the required investment in care and compassion. This lack of time and resources leads them down a path of bad choices.

Through their sentences and punishments, these juveniles grow into better people. They learned their lesson. A crime committed during a developmental period needs more considerations than one engaged in adult life.

A juvenile inmate who shows remorse and changed behavior from their incarceration expresses the vital signs of a person rehabilitated. Shouldn't they have an opportunity to show that change and become a member of society?

On the other hand, some crimes are particularly heinous. Is it right for a convicted murderer to walk free just because they were a kid when they committed the crime? Although, murderers are set free on parole every day in America after they served their time.

Time is the main issue at hand. Should an entire juvenile's lifetime be taken away because of a crime, especially if adults who commit the same crime have the possibility of parole?

More About Juvenile Justice Services

Maryland And Federal Authorities Confiscate Cocaine From Cargo Ship Docked In Annapolis

Original Story

What's Going On:

Federal and Maryland authorities confiscated 44 lbs. of cocaine from a cargo ship anchored in the Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis. Agents found the drugs concealed inside the ship from the Netherlands' anchor locker.

Law enforcement estimates the street value at over $1 million. The investigation is ongoing, and no arrests made.

Why This Matters To You:

The flow of illegal drugs into our country is infinite. Our airways, ports, and roadways all transport these substances to Americans across the country.

And because of this apparent infinite supply, the war on drugs is taking severe heat from politicians and the public alike. Many think it's a waste of taxpayer dollars, while others believe we are protecting ourselves from a bad thing and providing jobs.

When and how drugs come into our country is closely monitored as officers screen international travelers and cargo for illicit narcotics, unreported currency, weapons, counterfeit consumer goods, prohibited agriculture, and other illegal products.

In this case, a search uncovered a stash of cocaine. Despite our best efforts, these drugs continue to make their way across our borders. Sometimes, these drugs end up being confiscated and stolen by law enforcement to sell themselves on the street for profit. (Baltimore Gun Task Force Corruption scandal comes to mind.)

Our views on drugs are changing, too. Marijuana is medically legal in Maryland. Pushing to legalize it for recreational use fell short in the legislature this year. And on the other side of the country, Oregon fully decriminalized drugs to treat them as a public health crisis.

Time will tell how our drug laws change, but in the meantime, the crew and owners of the cargo ship face the scrutiny of a federal drug investigation.

More About Federal-Level Charges