What constitutes domestic violence?

Many Maryland residents who are charged with domestic violence violations may not have been aware that their actions constituted a potential criminal act. These defendants, who may also face allegations of spousal abuse, should understand the precise definition of “domestic violence” in order to mount a criminal defense. So, what exactly constitutes domestic violence in Maryland? Today, we help you answer that question.

What are the forms of domestic violence? There are generally four recognized types of domestic violence. These include the commonly prosecuted physical abuse, which can include striking, biting or otherwise physically harming the victim. Emotional abuse happens when someone uses psychological tactics to undermine the victim’s sense of self-worth. Economic abuse occurs when the abuser prevents the victim from maintaining financial independence, therefore “trapping” the person in the relationship. Finally, sexual abuse can also occur if sexual acts are forced upon a victim.

It is important to recognize that domestic violence is often considered a specific type of crime. That means that you can be charged with both physical assault and domestic violence. In general, domestic violence includes physical and psychological abuse that occur as part of a cycle of violence — domestic violence charges are not always brought after a first report of physical abuse.

What other factors play a role in charging someone with domestic violence? The nature of the allegations you face could be dependent upon the seriousness of the victim’s injuries. Further, charges may be increased if minors are present. The presence of a protective order can also impact the nature of the charges faced by a defendant. These mitigating factors should be considered by a defendant and legal team before a criminal defense strategy is drafted. Domestic violence charges should always be taken seriously, as such allegations can have a significant impact on defendants’ professional and personal futures.

Source: FindLaw, “Domestic Violence” Sep. 07, 2014