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Maryland bill seeks to toughen domestic violence laws

| Jan 24, 2014 | Domestic Violence

Being accused of domestic violence can have serious consequences. If one Maryland lawmaker has a say in those consequences, legal proceedings for people accused of domestic violence might get tougher. In an effort to help keep victims of domestic violence safe, the family of a murdered woman went to the Maryland General Assembly to show their support for a bill nicknamed “Ronnesha’s Law” after their relative. Some people, however, aren’t convinced that this bill is appropriate.

House Bill 44 would enable a judge to order psychological evaluations for alleged abusers as part of the protective order proceeding if the person shows signs of mental illness. As the law stands now, the victim of domestic abuse must return to court to file a request for a psychological evaluation after a request for an order of protection is filed. The new bill would eliminate the waiting period, which is when many victims might change their minds about filing for the order.

Opponents of the bill argue that the correlation between mental illness and domestic violence isn’t established enough to warrant a judge having the right to order a psychological evaluation during the initial order of protection hearing.

The family says that their loved one might still be alive if this law was in effect when the woman filed for domestic violence protection two years ago. Her abuser was sentenced to a 10-year suspended sentence after pleading guilty to domestic violence charges. After being incarcerated on other charges, the abuser was released. Only months after his release, he stabbed the woman five times at her home. He was killed by police. The woman’s children are now learning to live without their mother.

Anyone who is facing charges of domestic violence likely feels like they are facing an uphill battle. With proper representation and a strong defense, it may be possible to minimize the life effects of domestic violence charges.

Source: Carroll County Times, “Annapolis murder victim’s family testifies for tougher domestic violence laws” Sara Blumberg, Jan. 16, 2014