Prince George’s County Domestic Violence Lawyer

Domestic violence charges could result from a significant physical altercation. If you face domestic violence charges, you must take them very seriously. Even if you believe the matter was trivial, prosecutors could seek significant penalties.

A Prince George’s County domestic violence lawyer understands how these charges can impact your personal and professional life and can work to fight them. A skilled criminal defense attorney could assert all viable defenses to resolve the charges to minimize the consequences.

Domestic Violence Charges Explained

Maryland does not separately define crimes against family members as domestic violence. Instead, when one of several specific crimes is alleged, and the supposed victim is an intimate partner or family member, the prosecutor considers it a domestic violence crime. Maryland Family Law Code § 4-501 describes the types of crimes that could be considered domestic violence if the alleged victim has a familial or intimate relationship with the accused.

Different rules apply to crimes that involve domestic violence. The police can make an arrest based only on their opinion about what occurred. An individual charged with a domestic violence crime could be held in jail until arraignment and could need to post a bond to be released.

Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Offenses

Many domestic violence offenses are categorized as misdemeanors. These include second-degree assault, which is a threat of physical violence without causing a serious injury. A second-degree assault charge could stand even if there was no physical contact.

Other misdemeanor domestic violence charges include:

  • Stalking
  • False imprisonment
  • Unlawful publication
  • Violation of a protective order

Most of these charges carry a potential jail sentence of between one and ten years and fines of up to $10,000.

Felony Domestic Violence Charges

More serious crimes also could be charged as domestic violence crimes. Felony domestic violence charges could include:

  • First-degree and second-degree rape
  • Third-degree sexual offense
  • First-degree assault
  • Abuse of a vulnerable adult
  • Child kidnapping

A conviction on felony charges could lead to long prison terms and large fines. In addition, convicted felons lose their right to vote and could be denied opportunities for housing, employment, and education due to their criminal record. Depending on the strength of the evidence, a proactive Prince George’s County lawyer could negotiate with prosecutors to get a felony domestic violence charge dismissed or reduced to a misdemeanor.

Defense Against Protective and Peace Orders

A person who claims to be the victim of domestic violence has the right to seek a protective order or peace order in civil court. An alleged victim who obtains a protective or peace order may receive custody of children and pets and force its subject to stay away from their home. A protective order could impose an unfair burden on a defendant who has not been convicted of a crime.

A dedicated Prince George’s County domestic violence attorney could represent a respondent at a civil hearing regarding a protective or peace order. The diligent legal professional could argue against the order as unnecessary.

If the judge grants an order, a knowledgeable lawyer could request it be narrow and not interfere with the respondent’s access to their children or ability to defend themselves on the criminal charge.

Resolving Domestic Violence Charges

An experienced defense attorney in Prince George’s County could defend a domestic violence charge by demonstrating that the:

  • Complainant is unreliable
  • The prosecution cannot prove every element of the charge
  • Evidence tying the defendant to the crime is insufficient
  • Police had insufficient grounds to arrest the defendant

In some cases, other methods of resolving the charges might be available.

Prince George’s County offers a diversion program for people facing an initial domestic violence charge that does not involve a weapon, strangulation, or stalking. The program requires a batterer’s intervention class and offers treatment for mental health and substance abuse issues, GED classes, and job training.

Depending on the circumstances, a prosecutor might reduce a domestic violence charge in exchange for an agreement to engage in family counseling, anger management classes, or community service. However, these options might not be available in cases involving physical harm to the alleged victim.

A Prince George’s County Domestic Violence Attorney Could Help

Conviction of domestic violence charges could lead to jail time, large fines, and affect your personal and professional reputation. It could also negatively impact child custody and visitation decisions.

Retaining a well-practiced attorney to represent you is critical, even if you believe the charges are baseless. Contact a Prince George’s County domestic violence lawyer as soon as you are arrested for sound legal guidance.