Family life can be stressful, and even the best of us can lose our cool and make a serious mistake. On the other side of the coin, people can and too often do make up or exaggerate allegations of abuse.
It can be hard for authorities to sort out the truth, and many police and prosecutors are quick to believe the accuser without investigating all of the facts.
Maryland domestic violence charges
Maryland does not have a separate crime for domestic violence. Instead, authorities will charge someone with assault, reckless endangerment or some other offense. At the end of a case, a court may deem an offense domestically related.
Criminal charges are serious in themselves. For example, while second-degree assault is a misdemeanor, even for a first offense, a person can in theory go to jail for up to 10 years and pay a $2,500 fine.
In practice, someone with no criminal record and who has lived an upstanding life will probably not go to jail for a decade. Still, even if jail gets taken off the table, a person will want to think long and hard before pleading guilty to a crime related to domestic violence.
Even one domestic violence conviction can ruin your life
The reason someone should not rush to take what seems like a great plea bargain is that crimes related to domestic violence will haunt a person for years after their court cases end. Sometimes, they can even ruin a person’s life.
To give just one example, Maryland courts will take a conviction into account when they are deciding child custody and visitation matters. The conviction would allow a court to block a parent from having custody. The court may also order supervised visits or place restrictions on when a parent gets to see their children.
Domestic violence convictions can also affect a non-citizen’s immigration status. They can also mean a Marylander will be forced to surrender their firearms. Domestic violence convictions come with other professional and personal consequences as well.
No matter what a person’s role in it is, facing an allegation related to domestic violence is scary, especially if the person has no experience with the criminal justice system.
The person will want to understand all of their options and choose a path that is in the best legal interest.