Relationships are hard. No doubt about it. Family relationships are fraught with emotions that can sometimes (too quickly) get out of hand. Sometimes that means the police are called. Frequently, that leads to somebody getting arrested. If that somebody is you, your first thought may be, “How can I make this go away?” Let’s be really clear about this: you can’t. Not all on your own. But that doesn’t mean you’re sunk.

For starters, let’s look at what could get you arrested in the first place. Merely yelling at your date, no matter how loudly or profanely, does not meet the standard of “domestic violence” under the law. So, if she ordered anchovies on the pizza and your volume control gets a little out of hand as you explain for the millionth time that you’re not eating fish with your pepperoni, the neighbors may not like your lack of consideration but that doesn’t fall under the definition of domestic violence.

Domestic violence laws are designed to apply to particular people, not just someone who was invited over for dinner. Under Maryland law, domestic violence abuse occurs between “family or household members.”

Family Members Are Considered:

  • Current and former spouses
  • Couples who live together
  • People related by blood, marriage, or adoption.
  • Parents, step-parents and children who live together
  • Parents who have children together even if they don’t live in the same household
  • Vulnerable adults who aren’t able to care for themselves

What Qualifies as Domestic Abuse?

  • Assault
  • An act that places a person in fear of imminent serious bodily harm
  • An act that causes serious bodily harm
  • Rape or sexual offense
  • Attempted rape or sexual offense
  • Stalking
  • False imprisonment, such as preventing someone from leaving their home or kidnapping

If That Didn’t Take Place

If none of these things took place, it does not meet the definition of domestic violence. You may be able to clarify the situation if the police are called. However, the law takes domestic violence very seriously, and if an officer shows up at your door, you may not have a lot of time to explain that it all stems from a culinary disagreement. If there’s any indication that some of that pizza could have found its way onto your family member’s face with some help from you, the officer may decide that’s abuse. You’re probably going to be wearing handcuffs instead of pizza.

So instead of sitting and wondering how you can get charges dropped if charged with domestic violence, the best thing to do is to call an experienced criminal attorney. It won’t matter if your significant other tries to explain that she merely forgot the napkins. Once the wheels are rolling, the state can go ahead and prosecute without the alleged victim’s cooperation. The laws are designed to protect victims who may be too afraid to want to press charges. Unfortunately, this can also mean that a misunderstanding between people who know each other very well gets taken on as a cause by people who don’t know the participants or their real story at all.

Violence against family members is a crime that should be prosecuted. But innocent people can also be accused of domestic violence. Without an attorney, your chances of “just getting it dropped” are as slim as a thin crust pizza with no toppings.