Maryland Domestic Violence Law
Maryland Domestic Violence Attorneys
In Maryland, the judicial system treats domestic violence crimes with great seriousness, leading to misdemeanor or felony charges upon conviction. The classification depends on factors such as the intentions of the alleged abuser and the level of harm suffered by the victim. A conviction, even for a misdemeanor, can have long-lasting consequences, including jail time, substantial fines, and a permanent record of domestic violence. This can negatively impact employment prospects, access to loans, and college enrollment.
Our experienced Maryland domestic violence lawyers specialize in navigating the complexities of Maryland’s abuse and assault laws. They will work closely with you, examining every aspect of your case to build a robust defense using proven legal strategies and resources. With the guidance of a skilled domestic violence attorney, you increase your chances of achieving a favorable outcome at your trial.
First Degree Assault in Maryland
Domestic violence crimes in Maryland are governed by the same laws that apply to assault against individuals who are not household members. Maryland criminal code § 3-202 defines first-degree assault as intentionally causing or attempting to cause serious physical injury to another person. If a firearm is used during the assault, such as a handgun, regulated firearm, assault pistol, machine gun, rifle, shotgun, or antique rifle, it automatically becomes a first-degree assault charge.
To prove first-degree assault without a firearm, it must be shown that the victim suffered serious physical injury. Serious physical injury is defined as an injury that poses a substantial risk of death, results in prolonged or permanent disfigurement, or causes loss of function in a bodily organ or appendage. Expert testimony from medical professionals who treated the victim can be presented in court, but it is not always required.
A conviction for first-degree assault in Maryland is a felony, carrying a potential sentence of up to 25 years in prison, depending on the specifics of the case. A skilled Maryland domestic violence lawyer will strive to minimize the associated penalties if you are convicted.
Second Degree Assault in Maryland
Less severe forms of domestic violence fall under Maryland criminal code § 3-203, which covers assault in the second degree. This code makes it illegal to attempt to cause or cause bodily harm to another person.
Although second-degree assault carries lesser penalties than first-degree assault, a conviction can still lead to up to 10 years of imprisonment, a fine of up to $2,500, and a misdemeanor on your record. Our Maryland domestic violence attorneys treat second-degree assault charges with equal importance to ensure the best defense for our clients.
Domestic Reckless Endangerment Law in Maryland
Reckless endangerment is akin to assault but can result from actions that are grossly negligent rather than intentionally malicious. Maryland criminal code § 3-204 states that it is illegal to engage in behavior that recklessly creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury or death to another person, whether they are a household member or not. Determining whether certain actions constitute reckless endangerment is often subjective and subject to interpretation. This is where an experienced domestic violence defense attorney in Maryland can provide a robust and personalized defense.
Reckless endangerment is classified as a misdemeanor in Maryland, carrying a potential sentence of up to 5 years in prison and fines of up to $5,000.
Child Kidnapping Law in Maryland
Maryland criminal code § 3-503 prohibits forcibly taking, carrying away, or abducting a child under 12 years of age from their home or the custody of their parent or legal guardian. It is also illegal to entice or persuade a child under 12 to leave without the consent of their guardian. Additionally, part (a)(2) of this code makes it illegal to carry away, take, steal, or kidnap a child under 16.
Child kidnapping is a felony offense in Maryland, punishable by up to 20 or 30 years in prison, depending on the severity of the crime. If the kidnapping leads to a sexual offense, the penalty can be life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Child Abuse Law in Maryland
The Maryland judicial system treats child abuse as both a first-degree and second-degree offense, as outlined in code § 3-601. First-degree child abuse occurs when a permanent or temporary caregiver of a child causes severe physical injury or death through abuse. Severe physical injury includes starvation, brain injury, or any injury meeting the criteria of serious physical injury under Maryland’s first-degree assault laws (code § 3-201). A conviction for first-degree child abuse is a felony, punishable by up to 25 years in prison. If the abuse results in the child’s death, the maximum penalty increases to 30 years. Repeat offenders face the same penalties.
Second-degree child abuse involves any type of abuse inflicted by a caregiver or family/household member that does not result in severe physical injury, sexual abuse, or death. It is a felony offense, carrying a potential sentence of up to 15 years in prison. Additional sentences may be imposed for any crimes used to establish proof of child abuse.
Vulnerable Adult Abuse Law in Maryland
Maryland criminal code § 3-604 makes it illegal for family members, household members, parents, caregivers, or other individuals responsible for the care of a vulnerable adult to neglect or abuse them in a manner that leads to sexual abuse, serious physical injury, or death. Vulnerable adults are defined as those lacking the mental and/or physical capacity to care for their own daily needs. Neglect is intentionally failing to provide essential care, such as supervision, shelter, medical treatment, toileting, clothing, or food.
Abusing a vulnerable adult is a felony offense, carrying a potential sentence of up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $10,000. Maryland criminal code § 3-605 covers second-degree abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult, which is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to 5 years in prison and fines up to $5,000. The incarceration sentence can run consecutively with sentences for any specific crimes constituting the neglect.
Maryland Domestic Violence Statistics
Maryland has witnessed a steady decline in domestic violence crimes since 2004 when 23,013 such crimes were reported. In 2010, there were 17,931 domestic violence crimes, indicating an almost 18.5% reduction since 2006. Domestic violence-related homicides also decreased by 31% during the same period. Areas with the highest domestic violence levels in Maryland include Baltimore City, Worcester County, St. Mary’s County, Baltimore County, and Wicomico County.
According to the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, 75% of domestic violence victims in Maryland are female. The majority (59%) of victims fall within the age range of 25 to 44, and there is roughly an equal representation of black and white victims. Female cohabitants are the most common victims (45.6%), followed by wives (26.5%), male cohabitants (14%), and husbands (11.9%). Approximately 80% of domestic violence victims live with their abusers.
The circumstances surrounding most domestic violence incidents (61.8%) are unknown, and another 24% are classified as “other.” When the cause is known, infidelity (9.2%) is the most common circumstance, followed by issues related to children (5.3%), money (4.4%), property (3.7%), alcohol (3.0%), and separation (2.7%). Drugs and alcohol are involved in 29% of domestic violence incidents in Maryland.
Our Maryland domestic violence lawyers have extensive experience in handling all types of domestic violence cases, regardless of the specific circumstances. With our skilled attorneys by your side, you can trust that your case will be strongly represented, increasing your chances of a favorable outcome at trial.