Domestic violence is defined as violent acts that a family or member of the household commits against someone else in the home. This includes a child or spousal abuse. When a member of the household or family member inflicts violence and physically harms another family member, this crime is called domestic violence. This crime extends to those who are dating as well as married couples or those living together.
A domestic violence charge comes in many forms. If someone is physically or psychologically abused on a regular basis, this is known as a cycle of violence. Charges become more severe if there are other factors, including:
- Was a minor in the room when the abuse occurred?
- How severe were the victim’s injuries?
- Was there a restraining or protective order in place at the time of the abuse?
Most domestic violence consists of physical abuse like hitting or pushing. If you are being stalked, this can be a form of domestic violence as well.
In many states, domestic violence is its own crime. If someone hits someone in their household, they can be charged with domestic violence. In Maryland, the State will usually charge an assault, and then ask the court to mark that this assault was “domestically related.” The courts may sentence those convicted of domestic assault harsher because they feel offenders breach the trust that their victims have in them through the abuse. In addition to potential jail time, the sentences will usually include additional protections for the victim, including no contact, and generally will make the offender complete a domestic violence class as well. The goal is to try to prevent future instances of abuse.
Types of Domestic Abuse
- Emotional abuse — verbal abuse that constantly devalues the victim and deflates any sense of worth
- Physical abuse — any type of behavior considered violent toward the victim including slapping, biting, punching, shoving
- Economic abuse — this happens when the abuser pushes to make the victim totally reliant upon the abuser for any financial matter
- Sexual abuse — forcing the victim to perform any sexual activity without their consent
Penalties for Domestic Violence Offenders
If you are facing a charge of domestic violence, the offense can either be a misdemeanor or a felony charge depending on the extent of the injuries and whether or not there are any other aggravating factors. If the victim was a child, the penalties and charges may be much stiffer. Penalties for domestic violence can involve:
- Fines imposed
- Time in jail
- Hours of community service
- counseling/anger management programs
- Protective or restraining orders against the offender
- Visits with your children may have to be supervised — you may even lose your parental rights altogether
- If you are not in the US legally, you could be deported
The penalties may vary depending upon the state where the domestic violence occurred. Your attorney will advise you as to what you can expect in your state.
Contact an Attorney
If you are charged with domestic violence, contact a criminal defense attorney that has experience in dealing with this charge, and knows how best to defend your rights. Domestic violence usually occurs during an emotionally-charged situation. Your criminal lawyer Baltimore, Maryland offers will investigate the facts of the case and work to put together a strong defense.
Thanks to the Greenberg Law Offices for their insight into criminal defense and domestic violence.