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Change in Maryland domestic violence law impacts the accused

| May 17, 2014 | Domestic Violence

When emotions run high, things that normally wouldn’t happen might happen. Claims might be made in the heat of the emotional situation that could lead to a petition for an order of protection being filed. In some cases, that is exactly what happens when claims of domestic violence are made. While it has been fairly difficult for someone to prove to the court that they have been a victim of domestic violence in Maryland, that will be changing later this year.

As of October 1, 2014, the burden of proof in domestic violence is changing. Maryland is the last of the states to pass legislation that actually makes it easier for someone to make claims about being the victim of domestic violence. Instead of having to present proof that is “clear and convincing,” only having to present proof that provides a “preponderance of the evidence” will be required for someone to get a restraining order in a domestic violence case.

Approximately 60 percent of petitions for restraining orders are denied under the current law. If a final protective order is issued, which is a term used for a restraining order, it means that the person who is accused of domestic violence must not contact the petitioner, must surrender any firearms, must relinquish custody of children shared with the petitioner and must stay out of the home occupied by the petitioner. As you can see, this makes it difficult to live a normal life if you are the one accused of domestic violence.

The consequences of violating the order are harsh. Each count of violating the protective order can mean a 90-day jail sentence. When the new law goes into effect in October, Those accused of domestic violence must make sure they are familiar with the new law so they can properly answer to the accusations against them to minimize the impact the process has on them.

Source: SoMdNews, “Maryland to relax burden of proof for protection from abuse” Andrea Frazier, May. 14, 2014