Yes, really. It’s a common and dangerous misconception that you have to actually raise your hand at your partner or child for it to be considered abuse — at least in our state. Sure, no SWAT team is going to kick down your door and tackle you if you jokingly threaten to kill your wife for eating the last slice of pizza, but if you threaten that not-so-jokingly and she calls the cops…well. Get the kneepads and a helmet ready.
Like with any situation that involves more than one person, the circumstances matter and are always unique, but every domestic assault case shares one thing in common: those accused should get an attorney immediately. These charges are not something you want to mess around with, no matter how varied and intricate they can be. Not only could they end up costing you thousands, you could also face collateral consequences like a loss of child custody or housing, along with the rest of your reputation.
Non-physical behaviors Maryland considers abuse
It isn’t only domestic assault cases that see non-violent incidents as illegal and treat them accordingly. In Maryland, there are laws against “communication of threat,” which is fairly self-explanatory. They take it incredibly seriously, and those who may not have heard of these laws might find that out the hard way at some point. A few types of illegal threats include:
- Extortion by written threat of injury, emotional distress, or economic damage. Not only can convictions get you fined $10,000, but you could also face up to 10 years in prison.
- Threats of mass violence, meaning that five or more people were in fear of being harmed and/or evacuated a public place. It’s a misdemeanor that carries the same penalties as extortion.
- Making indecent or obscene comments over the phone and/or communicating a threat, which can result in three years behind bars.
When it comes to domestic violence, any threat or action that causes your spouse or child to fear bodily harm can count as abuse, as does stalking or harassment. This can mean everything from shouting out an explicit threat to punching the wall or advancing in a threatening manner. Anything that creates the fear of abuse is considered an act of it. The penalties vary widely mostly because the crimes themselves do, too, so it can be difficult to understand exactly what you’re up against if you’re charged.
If only there was some kind of professional in a suit with a briefcase who could explain it….
Hire a lawyer.
Why you really, really, really don’t want to be convicted of domestic assault
No matter what state you’re in, domestic assault is one of those convictions that follows you around forever, long after you’ve paid your fines and done your time. Remember that it’s public information. It will show up on every background check you ever have, including Tinder dates who Google you first, and most people will not wait to hear your side of the story before reacting. Usually, “reacting” means rejecting you for employment opportunities, housing options, any future legal matters, and just all around turning you into a pariah. It’s safer to side with a lying victim than a lying abuser, after all.
Of course, those are all long-term consequences. In the meantime, it’s (obviously) best to avoid getting charged in the first place, as any shade of domestic assault looks bad and can really hurt. Cops do not usually need a warrant to arrest you — just reasonable suspicion you’re guilty. And once that happens, the investigation has begun, and you’re gonna start to suffer for it real soon.
Your partner can fairly easily obtain a protective or peace order with a simple court petition, and these orders basically exist to remove you from the equation as quickly as possible. If you’re a parent, this is where it gets bad. Once these orders are granted, you could be forcibly removed from your home and away from your children. Not only that, but you might also be forced to pay financial child support to your accuser, AND give up your vehicle, AND pay your accuser’s legal fees — and this is all before you’re actually convicted of anything.
Once you are convicted, you can almost guarantee you can kiss custody of your children goodbye. Visitations might be brief, supervised, and come with a fee you’re responsible for — if they happen at all — and the child custody case itself could be expedited in your accuser’s favor. Basically, if the judge believes you pose any sort of threat to your children, you will be kept away from them.
If no physical violence occurred, you are probably looking at a misdemeanor rather than a felony, but that does not change any of the above. It means you’ll probably have some visitation, maybe. Possibly. It does mean you might not face a multi-decade prison sentence, but you could still very much face time behind bars with hefty fines and fees on top.
It’s obvious none of this is good. People typically do not want to go through things like prison, unless they’re on a critically-acclaimed Netflix show. And, since very little evidence and no witnesses are required, it can be very easy to get tangled up in the worst threads of law possible. So, even if you didn’t do it, and even if all you “did” was yell some regrettable things at someone you love, don’t wait before getting legal help. They sure won’t wait to arrest you.
Don’t let something as serious as a domestic assault charge tarnish your reputation and ruin your life. Save yourself a world of stress and pain by just calling the Annapolis criminal defense attorneys at Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law. We know how to build and present your case with your freedom and rights in mind, and we’re not going to turn on you or add to your troubles. Whether you’re here or in Ellicott City, we can be the right representation for you — as long as you actually call. Reach us today at 410-271-1892 or use our contact form.
And remember — Keep Calm, and Call Drew!