When Your Domestic Violence Arrest Is UnwarrantedOkay, let’s be honest here. At some point, you have probably fantasized about using a snappy TV-borne line to shut down cops. Especially if you’ve had unfortunate run-ins with the police in the past, of course you want to have some sort of verbal defense if cops come knocking at the door. Shows everywhere encourage the idea of these impenetrable phrases stopping even the most unfair of police in their tracks, making them huff and cower back to their cars while you get to move on with your life. “Ya gotta warrant?” you’d asked them. They didn’t, so you win. You know this is one media trope that actually has a grain of truth in it, but a grain is not a sandbox (or a bowl of rice — choose your favorite grain metaphor).

In other words… yeah, that doesn’t always work. It works on TV because it’s TV. Depending on why Annapolis cops are coming to your door, especially if it’s for something related to suspected domestic violence, their answer to your snappy question may just be a broken door and handcuffs. This is not a fun image for anyone, and it can lead to convictions that are even less fun. Know your actual rights so you can know how to protect them.

Annapolis police don’t always need a warrant

It does not matter if you are actually guilty or not. If you are suspected of the right crime, cops have more authority to detain, investigate, and charge you. While most cases would require police to obtain an official warrant for your arrest, the law is designed to protect as many people as possible — which means if anyone is suspected of being in danger, certain requirements are waived in the interest of getting victims safer, faster. The idea may come from a generous place but this can lead to innocent people being wrongfully ripped from their lives and arrested based on flimsy excuses. That’s why while Annapolis police don’t always need a warrant, YOU always need an attorney.

See what I did there?

But it’s true. Maryland law has three statutes pertaining to warrantless arrests depending on the situation. Three may seem like a small number but they each can cover a broad swath of offenses.

  1. Criminal Procedure Code Ann. § 2-204 (2020) states:
  2. A police officer without a warrant may arrest a person if:
    1. the police officer has probable cause to believe that:
      1. the person battered the person’s spouse or another person with whom the person resides;
      2. there is evidence of physical injury; and
  • unless the person is arrested immediately, the person:
    1. may not be apprehended;
    2. may cause physical injury or property damage to another; or
    3. may tamper with, dispose of, or destroy evidence; and
  1. a report to the police was made within 48 hours of the alleged incident.
  1. If the police officer has probable cause to believe that mutual battery occurred and arrest is necessary under subsection (a) of this section, the police officer shall consider whether one of the persons acted in self-defense when determining whether to arrest the person whom the police officer believes to be the primary aggressor.

Someone suspected of stalking may also be arrested without a warrant, per MD. Criminal Procedure Code Ann. § 2-205:

A police officer without a warrant may arrest a person if:

  • the police officer has probable cause to believe the person has engaged in stalking under § 3-802 of the Criminal Law Article;
  • there is credible evidence other than the statements of the alleged stalking victim to support the probable cause under item (1) of this section; and
  • the police officer has reason to believe that the alleged stalking victim or another person is in danger of imminent bodily harm or death.

Finally, if you already have a protective order in place and a police officer suspects you’ve violated it somehow, MD. Criminal Procedure Code Ann. § 2-204.1 (2020) allows them to arrest you without a warrant. A protective order is essentially a shorter-term restraining order. It can get you removed from your home, your job, your kids — even your pets! — and it’s taken incredibly seriously.

Shocking news rocks Annapolis: consequences are bad. (More at 11)

A lot can count as domestic violence, which means there are a lot of ways to get arrested, charged, and convicted. It also means there’s a wide range of possible penalties you could face — and none of them are mild enough to shrug off. That’s really what it all comes down to: getting arrested is a big deal. Even if you are innocent, getting arrested still has the potential to shake up your entire life in the worst way.

Again, though, it depends on what you’re charged with. If you’re charged with domestic violence, it’s considered a form of assault and punished accordingly. First degree assault can get you 25 years or more in prison, and even second degree gets you 10. Stalking, while not a violent crime that leads to decades behind bars, can still get you some pretty hefty fines (and probably SOME time in the slammer). Lastly, not only can being convicted of violating a protection order get said order extended by two years, but it can also result in additional fines and jail time on top of any other domestic violence charges.

So that’s the gist of it. Maryland takes accusations of domestic violence, on any level, incredibly seriously because it implies a citizen might be in some form of danger. When cops get overzealous about determining who is and isn’t a suspect, though, innocent people face real, hard time. The best thing to do for yourself is exercising your right to an attorney as quickly as you can if you’ve been arrested. A good criminal defense attorney knows exactly how presumptuous police officers can be, and how biased the court may act when they suspect someone is harmful. With that knowledge, your attorney can poke holes in the prosecution while asserting your innocence and ensuring you’re treated fairly every step of the way.

Even if you did it, there are always options — if you get an attorney. Don’t try to represent yourself, don’t phone your buddy Greg, don’t oink at your arresting officers. Don’t give them any fuel to their fire. The Annapolis criminal defense attorneys at Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law are here to step in and advocate for you, no matter the situation. We’re here for you in Ellicott City as well, and we’re in the business of being worth your time. Give us a call today at 410-271-1892 or use our contact form.

And remember — Keep Calm, don’t oink at cops, and Call Drew.