In Baltimore, domestic violence victims have significant legal rights. However, you might find it difficult to stand up to your abuser on your own. We understand the fear and uncertainty you may feel when you leave an abusive relationship. At James E. Crawford & Associates, we’re here to help you reclaim your life and fight back.
What You Should Do After a Domestic Incident
Your safety is always our first priority. If you are in a violent relationship, you should formulate a safety plan and seek out support from trusted friends, family, and domestic violence victims organizations. If your abuser becomes violent or threatening, you should:
- Call 911 immediately,
- Cooperate with law enforcement and provide them with accurate information about the incident,
- File criminal charges,
- Document the abuse by taking photos of your injuries and any property damage,
- Seek necessary medical treatment,
- Go to a safe place, such a family member’s home or domestic violence shelter, and
- Contact an experienced family attorney to discuss protection orders, child custody, divorce, and other issues.
Ensure Your Safety with a Protection Order
In Baltimore, domestic violence victims can receive interim (emergency), temporary, and permanent protection (or restraining) orders. Depending on your circumstances, a protection order can do many important things, including:
- Prevent your abuser from being in the same location as you,
- Prohibit your abuser from entering your home, school, or workplace,
- Stop abusive or threatening communications,
- Award temporary custody of your children,
- Award temporary financial assistance,
- Allow you to use the home, apartment, or vehicle that you and the abuser share,
- Require mental health or substance abuse counseling, and
- Prevent your abuser from owning or possessing firearms.
If your abuser violates the terms of the protection order, he or she faces additional criminal charges and penalties.
If you need help filing a petition for a protection order in Baltimore, contact James E. Crawford and Associates immediately. We will ensure that you file the correct paperwork, present a compelling case to the judge, and help you avoid further threats and violence.
Domestic Violence and Child Custody
While Maryland values parent-child relationships, child custody is always based on the best interests of the child. If your child experienced or witnessed domestic violence, the judge will consider this in his or her child custody order. For example, the court might:
- Award you sole custody of your children,
- Deny the abuser’s visitation rights,
- Require supervised visitation (meetings at a neutral, supervised location), or
- Require monitored exchanges of the child or staggered drop-offs at a neutral location.
If you and your child are domestic violence victims, we can help you file a child custody petition– either establishing or modifying a custody/visitation schedule, contact James E. Crawford & Associates for assistance.
Criminal Penalties for Domestic Violence
Domestic violence charges carry serious criminal penalties. If convicted, your abuser faces:
- First-degree assault: up to 25 in prison,
- Second-degree assault: up to 10 years in prison and a $2,500 fine,
- Rape and other sexual offenses: up to a life sentence,
- Reckless endangerment: up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine,
- Child abuse or kidnapping: up to 30 years in prison,
- Abuse of a vulnerable adult: up to 10 years in prison and s $10,000 fine, and
- Stalking: up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Other crimes, such as false imprisonment and violation of a protective order carry different penalties. Once you file criminal charges, the Baltimore County prosecutor will handle the criminal case.
We Fight for Baltimore Domestic Violence Victims
At James E. Crawford & Associates, we use our experience litigating both family law and criminal issues to keep domestic violence victims safe and help them rebuild. We understand the complexities of these cases– which can be physically and emotionally difficult. If you need help escaping domestic violence, contact us for a free (and confidential) consultation.