New domestic violence laws go into effect

Maryland will see three new laws coming into effect on Jan. 7, 2015. The laws will apply to the victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, and they will affect the way that their convicted abusers are punished.

Maryland’s Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown recently made several statements about the new domestic violence laws. He said that domestic violence is indiscriminate and every member of every community feels its impact in spite of religion, economic status, race or gender. The lieutenant governor also said that the new laws represent progress in the realm of protecting Maryland’s women and children.

Previously, Maryland was the only state in the union that required victims to provide clear and convincing evidence before being granted a peace or protective order from the court. Now, alleged domestic violence victims will only require a “preponderance of the evidence” in order to gain this kind of protection. Three thousand five hundred of the 5,300 protective order requests that were denied last year were denied on the grounds of not having “clear and convincing evidence.” The change will make it easier for victims to seek domestic violence protections.

It is good that Maryland courts will now be erring on the side of safety, and providing protective orders with a lower evidentiary requirement. However, it also means that more individuals will suffer adverse consequences following dishonest domestic violence complaints. This means that those incorrectly accused of domestic violence will need to be even more vigilant than ever before if they hope to preserve their rights in court following an accusation of violence.

Source: WBAL, “3 new domestic violence laws added to Maryland books” Saliqa Khan, Jan. 06, 2015