Domestic Violence lawyer

Getting arrested for any offense is serious.

In Maryland, a domestic violence arrest can cause particularly serious consequences for anyone arrested and charged. Because the consequences are serious, it is important to contact an experienced Maryland domestic violence lawyer to help you navigate the court system and fight to protect your rights. There can be both civil and criminal penalties for domestic violence in Maryland.


Courts can impose protective orders in domestic violence situations where the court orders the defendant or respondent to stay away and have no contact with the complaining witness. That means if you are subject to a protective order either in a civil or criminal case, the Court could order you to stay away from your spouse, your home, and even your children. Because there is not a specific domestic violence charge in Maryland, a case will typically involve normal criminal charges where the alleged victim is a family member or even a roommate.

Domestic Violence Arrests

A typical domestic violence arrest happens when some type of altercation occurs between intimate partners or family members. Either one of the participants or a neighbor may call the police. Police arrive on the scene and must try and investigate what happened. The police will usually separate the parties and ask what happened to try to determine if actual physical violence or threats occurred, or whether there was just a loud verbal argument. If there are no signs of injury and both parties deny any physical violence or threats took place, the police will not likely make an arrest.

On the other hand, if the police observe signs of physical injury (bumps, scratches, bruises, etc.) and one party alleges violence consistent with the physical injury, the police will arrest the other person. Similarly, if the police find credible allegations that one party threatened the other, they will frequently make an arrest regardless of whether there is visible injury.

Once arrested in Maryland, the police will handcuff the person and take them to the police station for booking. After the police process the person arrested, the person will see a commissioner. The commissioner will determine whether to release the individual on bond, on conditions, or hold them in jail. Typical conditions may include ordering the person arrested to stay away from the place where the incident occurred and to stay away from the alleged victim.

md criminal law cta square banner

Defenses to Maryland Domestic Violence Cases

Many of the defenses for domestic violence offenses mirror the defenses of similar crimes where the complainant is not an intimate partner. For example, in any assault case, whether or not it is domestic violence-related, self-defense is a primary defense to the charge. The doctrine of self-defense permits individuals to use reasonable force to defend themselves and others. An effective use of self-defense may depend on a couple of factors.

First, it is important in any self-defense case to know who the aggressor in the incident was. A common scenario is where, one partner uses force against the other and then calls the police after their partner uses force in response to protect themselves. If the police arrive on the scene, they often will believe the person who reports the incident. In other words, the first person to call the cops will often receive preferential treatment by police.

The second factor important to using self-defense to challenge a domestic violence case is whether the force used was reasonable. Even if you are not the aggressor, if the force used is unreasonable, self-defense will not usually work. For example, if one partner slaps another and the slapped person responds by hitting the slapper with a baseball bat, the judge or jury would not likely find that response reasonable.

Finally, the person who claims self-defense must have a reasonable fear that force is necessary to protect themselves. Assessing whether the perceived threat was reasonable involves viewing the totality of the facts and circumstances surrounding the altercation.

Another potential defense involves showing the bias of the alleged victim or complainant. Unfortunately, in the domestic violence arena, there are individuals who use the system as a sword rather than a shield. There can be a variety of reasons why an individual would make false accusations in a domestic violence case. They could make them to gain a tactical advantage in a child custody case. They could make false allegations as payback for cheating or some other wrong their former partner did to them. It is important to have an experienced Maryland domestic violence lawyer fully investigate the charges and try to determine if the alleged victim has any motive to fabricate charges.

Finally, this attack on victim’s credibility will usually only work in cases where there is no sign of physical injury. It is one thing for a judge or jury to accept that a complainant with no visible injury fabricated a charge like threats or non-touching assault. However, it is an entirely different burden to show that a person went to the effort of manufacturing physical injuries on themselves without some level of proof.

Maryland Protective Orders

Not all domestic violence incidents result in arrest. Individuals may get into some type of altercation and the complainant may not want to involve the police. Instead, they can file for something called a Protection Order. A Protection Order is analogous to what most people understand and refer to as a Restraining Order. To file for a Protection Order in Maryland, the petitioner must show either a physical assault, a threat that places them in fear of injury, sexual assault or rape, false imprisonment, or stalking.

To obtain a Protection Order in Maryland, the petitioner must be:

  1. a prior or current spouse;
  2. related by blood, marriage or adoption;
  3. a stepparent or stepchild;
  4. have a child in common with the respondent;
  5. have been a cohabitant with the respondent for at least 90 days within the last year;
  6. have been in a prior sexual relationship with the respondent within the last year;
  7. be a vulnerable adult.

At the outset, the petitioner can seek an Interim Protective Order by filing a petitioner before a Commissioner. After obtaining the Interim Protective Order, the petitioner must serve the respondent (or person they are alleging harmed them). The next step involves obtaining a Temporary Protective Order.

To get a Temporary Protective Order, the Petitioner will go before a judge and make their allegations under oath. The Temporary Protective Order will only remain in effect for seven days after law enforcement has served the respondent with the order. The last step in the process involves a hearing on a Final Protective Order.

The Final Protective Order hearing will be like a trial. Each side will have an opportunity to present evidence, and a judge will order a Final Protective Order if she finds that a relevant crime or abuse occured. Finally, in some instances, a Court could order a Mutual Protection Order where the judge requires both parties to stay away from each other.


Finding a Maryland Domestic Violence Lawyer

Whether it’s a civil or criminal case, a domestic violence case in Maryland can have serious consequences. Because of the serious potential consequences, it is important to immediately contact a qualified Maryland domestic violence lawyer. If you have been arrested or served with a Maryland protection order. Attorney Morgan Leigh is a fearless advocate with experience defending domestic violence cases and representing both petitioners and respondents in protective order cases. She will fight tirelessly to ensure your rights are protected. She has experience in a variety of both District and Circuit Courts in Maryland including Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, which include cities like Rockville, Bethesda, Hyattsville, and Bowie. Contact her today for a full case evaluation.

md criminal law cta square banner

Our Firm Provides Criminal Defense Representation in These and Other Maryland Areas

national college for dui logo
nacdl logo
bar association of montgomery county logo
dcbar logo
maryland criminal defense logo
msba logo