Domestic violence laws in Maryland currently require that a complainant present “clear and convincing” evidence that domestic violence occurred before the court can grant a protective order. In most other states, less evidence is required. House Bill 307 might change the evidence requirement in Maryland.
The bill would change the evidence requirement to a “preponderance of evidence” instead of the current requirement in order for the court to grant a protective order or final peace order. The bill was passed by both the House and the Senate without any amendments. In the House of Delegates, only 15 delegates failed to vote for the bill to pass. Opponents of the bill say that people might be unnecessarily removed from their homes because of the lowered standard.
A separate bill, House Bill 309, also serves to change the way domestic violence protective orders are handled. This bill would make it easier for people who are victims of domestic violence to get a permanent protective order. The bill would add second-degree assault to the list of crimes that can lead to the permanent protective order. This bill passed in the House unanimously, and the Senate passed a similar bill.
These bills could potentially make it much harder for people who have been accused of domestic violence to remain in their home. The bills may also have other serious implications for those who are convicted of domestic violence. Anyone who is facing domestic violence charges should make sure they understand how their charges can affect every aspect of their life. Getting answers to questions prior to court hearings is vital to ensure proper understanding of what is going on during the hearing.
Source: Carroll County Times, “Lawmakers pass bill to lower proof needed for domestic violence victims to get protective orders” Alex Jackson, Mar. 31, 2014