Domestic Violence

Criminal accusations involving your family and domestic relationships need to be taken very seriously in Maryland, whether the case involves false allegations or not. An accusation of domestic assault or child abuse can have a devastating effect on your reputation, your employment, and your family relationships.

Under Maryland law, the term “domestic violence” is defined to include people in “intimate relationships”; i.e., people who are or have been in a relationship as a couple – married, living together, or dating. The term “domestic violence” does not include other family members or people who live together in a dormitory arrangement.

The early involvement of a domestic violence and family law attorney is essential to protect your freedom and your rights. Unfortunately, you can face serious consequences such as protective orders and removal of your child from your home before you are even convicted of a crime.


Domestic Violence Lawyer in Baltimore, Maryland

If you are facing domestic violence charges, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates. Our domestic violence lawyer represents clients throughout the City of Baltimore, the County of Baltimore, and the surrounding areas in the State of Maryland.

We also represent clients on related charges of stalking, cyber stalking, and the violation of a “no contact” provision. Our domestic violence lawyer also represents a respondent served with an injunction for a protective order against domestic violence.

Call 443-709-9999 for a free consultation today.


Information Center


Different Types of Domestic Violence Charges in Maryland

The following links offer more information about different types of domestic violence criminals prosecuted throughout the courtrooms in Baltimore, Maryland, and the surrounding areas:

  • Domestic violence: Once made, charges of domestic violence can be difficult to recant and often require an aggressive defense. Our domestic violence lawyer often represent people who need help getting their spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend out of jail after making a complaint of domestic violence.
  • Ex parte protective orders: In Maryland, all a person needs to do to obtain a temporary protective order against you is convince a judge that he or she is in fear of imminent harm. These orders are called “ex parte” because the judge hears from only one side — the alleged victim.
  • Child Discipline: A report from an overzealous teacher or neighbor or a vengeful ex-spouse can result in a visit from Maryland Child Protective Services to your home. If the case workers believe that allegations of abuse are credible, your children can be taken from your home in the name of protecting the child’s welfare.

Many times, a spouse or other person will obtain a “protective order” and request a “summons” or “warrant” from a commissioner for a criminal assault charge simultaneously. Police who come to a domestic violence scene look for “indicia” to determine if an assault has occurred. Many times, I will recommend that a defendant goes to the commissioner’s office to obtain their own charge of assault against the co-defendant.


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Maryland’s Definition of Domestic Violence

In Maryland, the term “Domestic Violence” is defined as abusive behavior whereby a person intends to establish and maintain power and control over a person with whom he or she has, or has had, a significant personal relationship. Power and control are exerted through physical, sexual, psychological and or economic means.

Examples of domestic violence include, but are not limited to:

  • violation of an ex parte or protective order;
  • display or discussion of weapons;
  • threats to cause harm;
  • intimidation;
  • disorderly conduct;
  • verbal harassment;
  • crimes against property;
  • stalking;
  • assault and battery;
  • strangulation;
  • rape; and
  • homicide.

The term “Domestic Violence” is defined in Maryland as any crime, committed by a suspect (respondent) against a person eligible for relief, as defined in § 4-501 of the Family Law Article or who had a sexual relationship with the suspect within 12 months before the commission of the crime.

Persons eligible for relief under § 4-501 of the Family Law Article includes:

  1. The current or former spouse of the respondent;
  2. A cohabitant of the respondent;
  3. A person related to the respondent by blood, marriage, or adoption;
  4. A parent, stepparent, child, or stepchild of the respondent or the person eligible for relief, who resides or resided with the respondent or person eligible for relief for at least 90 days within one year before the filing of the petition;
  5. A vulnerable adult; or
  6. An individual who has a child in common with the respondent.

The term “Domestic Incident’ is defined to mean any occurrence, criminal or non-criminal, involving a current or former spouse, a current or former cohabitant, or a person with whom the individual has or had a sexual or non-sexual intimate relationship.

The term “Cohabitant” is defined to mean a person who has had a sexual relationship with the victim and resided with the victim for a period of at least 90 days within one year of the reported incident.

The term “Stalking” is defined to mean a malicious, persistent course of conduct that includes approaching or pursuing another person with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear of serious bodily injury or death to themselves or a third person.


History of Domestic Violence Prosecutions Units

Believe it or not, the history of Domestic Violence with our Judicial System is long and tortured. These type of cases have always been around. The theory of how they are prosecuted really changed back in the early nineties as a result of the infamous O.J. Simpson case.

Many counties across the country, including many in Maryland, created “Domestic Violence” prosecuting units in the State’s Attorney Office. The State’s Attorneys assigned to these cases specialized in Domestic Violence Prosecutions. They became extremely aggressive in requesting jail and other severe penalties such as:

  • Long term supervised probation
  • Counseling requirements with groups such as House of Ruth
  • Anger management forced classes
  • Fines and other requirements

Simultaneously, the Maryland Legislature created new states such as “Protective Orders,” “Peace Orders” and other statutes enhancing domestic violence crimes. Even today as we speak the Legislature is working on additional enhanced penalties for Domestic violence. For example, a spouse may now only raise their “marital privilege” not to testify in a domestic case one time in a lifetime.

Relaxed hearsay rules such as the “excited utterance rule” and how it is applied pave the way for police to testify against Defendants. One thing is clear. If the police are called to the house, they will usually file a criminal charge. They then leave your family to pick up the pieces and avoid incarceration.


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New Funding for Domestic Violence Prosecutions in Baltimore City

On October 6, 2016, the Baltimore City Office of the State’s Attorney announced that it received new federal grant funding to hire new prosecutors to work exclusively on domestic violence and sexual assault cases involving teenagers. The three-year grant was awarded to the Office of the State’s Attorney, the Baltimore Police Department (BPD), the Baltimore Child Abuse Center (BCAC), the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, and the House of Ruth Maryland.

The grant came from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women Criminal Justice Responses Program.

In the City of Baltimore, domestic violence and teen sexual assault cases are currently handled by prosecutors assigned to the Special Victims Unit. The new prosecutors funded through the grant will work with law enforcement to review evidence, field questions about warrants and jurisdiction issues and make charging recommendations. In 2015, there were 426 official complaints of rape or sexual assault in Baltimore.


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Domestic Violence Policies of the Baltimore Police Department

Policy 711 on Domestic Violence was published on July 1, 2016, by Order of the Police Commissioner. The policy provides:

Consistent with Maryland law, violence between current or former spouses or intimate partners is a crime. Baltimore Police Department (BPD) members are required to treat domestic violence incidents in the same professional manner as all other requests for police service and will provide immediate, effective assistance and protection for victims and witnesses. BPD is committed to conducting investigations free from gender bias and other stereotypes.

The Baltimore Police Department (BPD) follows a preferred arrest response. If there is probable cause to believe that a person has committed a crime of domestic violence, the preferred response of the officer is the arrest of the offender. Although BPD does not have a mandatory arrest provision, officers are required to use all reasonable means to prevent further abuse, exploitation, or neglect, including the arrest of the offender when probable cause exists. Officers should not base their decision to arrest on whether they believe the case will be prosecuted. Dual arrests are discouraged.

When responding to a domestic violence incident, an officer with the Baltimore Police Department must:

  • Take appropriate measures at the scene, including but not limited to, rendering and obtaining medical attention, arresting the suspect, or obtaining a warrant.
  • Apprehend the suspect as soon as possible. Follow the arrest guidelines outlined above.
  • Notify their supervisor of the situation.
  • Visit the location where the incident occurred, and document observations on the Domestic Incident Report, Form 323. Preliminary investigations shall include, but are not limited to the following:
    • Conducting a thorough on-scene preliminary investigation to determine the primary aggressor.
    • Processing the crime scene and taking color photographs of:
      • Any visible injuries to the victim and/or defendant;
      • The victim, whenever an assault is alleged;
        • Any property damage; and
        • Any evidence of a struggle.
    • Conduct a warrant check of the suspect. Document the results in all reports.
    • When a criminal offense has occurred or has been alleged, and the suspect is not in custody, obtain a warrant/criminal summons by:
      • Offering transportation to the victim to the Office of the Court Commissioner located at 500 N. Calvert St. and assisting the victim with acquiring an arrest warrant or criminal summons.
      • All assistance provided and/or refused is to be documented in the Domestic Incident Report; Obtain the warrant/criminal summons when probable cause exists; or
      • Assist in obtaining a Protective Order when appropriate.Provide the victim with information regarding resources available from the criminal justice system and community.Request that a forensic interview is conducted by the State’s Attorney’s Office via the Family Crimes Unit when a child witnesses an incident of felony domestic violence.
    • Take required action when the member believes physical or sexual child abuse or child neglect has occurred.

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Photographs in Domestic Violence Cases

When injuries are visible, the officers at the scene will order photographs to be taken by a Mobile Crime Lab Technician or with the camera function of the departmental mobile phone. The number of photographs taken will be documented by the officer on the Domestic Incident Report, Form 323 and the Crime Incident Report, Form 008.

The officer is also required to forward the photographs to the State’s Attorney’s Office, via e-mail. The email must list the suspect’s name and the complaint number. Members must maintain copies of photographs taken on a departmental mobile phone until notified by the State’s Attorney’s Office that photographs were received and a printed copy of the photographs are in the case folder.

If you were injured in the incident, then take your own pictures. The officers are not always motivated to properly preserve evidence that you were acting in self-defense. Don’t just rely on the fact that the officers took pictures. You should take your own pictures and continue to take pictures of your injuries until they are completely healed. Those pictures might later be important to your defense.


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Domestic Violence and Firearm Possession

According to federal law, when a person, including a police officer, has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, that person may not ship, transport, or possess any firearm(s) or ammunition. If an officer finds a domestic violence suspect with a past conviction for possession of firearms or ammunition, the member shall seize the firearm and ammunition.

If the suspect is a law enforcement officer, the member must immediately notify the officer’s out of jurisdiction agency and BPD Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and immediately follow up with written notification directed to the affected person’s Chief of Police.

A member shall seize firearms from the scene of a domestic violence incident if:

  • Probable cause exists that domestic violence has occurred; or
  • A firearm is in plain view; or
  • Inquiry of a person at the scene leads to a firearm (the officers will all residents of the premise if there are firearms within the residence); or
  • The surrender of firearms is articulated as a condition of a Final Protective Order, or a Temporary Order.

If a firearm is removed from the scene, the officers are will:

  • Advise its owner of the process of regaining possession of the firearm; and
  • Submit the firearm to the Evidence Control Unit for safe storage; and
  • Notify the Gun Trace Task Force.

At the conclusion of a domestic violence proceeding, the owner of the firearm may regain possession of the firearm unless ordered to surrender the firearm under Sections 4-506, 4-511 of the Maryland Family Law Code.


Types of Domestic Violence Charges in Maryland

Law enforcement officers are trained on the following list of enabling and applicable domestic violence statutes.

  • First degree murder (CR § 2-201)
  • Second degree murder (CR § 2-204)
  • First degree rape (CR § 3-303)
  • Second degree rape (CR § 3-304)
  • First degree sexual offense (CR 3-305)
  • Second degree sexual offense (CR § 3-306)
  • Third degree sexual offense (CR § 3-307)
  • Fourth degree sexual offense (CR § 3-308)
  • Rape and Spousal offense – spousal defense (CR § 3-318)
  • Arson and related offenses (CR § 6-102 – 6-105)
  • Burglary in first degree (CR § 6-202)
  • Burglary in second degree (CR § 6-203)
  • Burglary in third degree (CR § 6-204)
  • Burglary in fourth degree (CR § 6-205)
  • First degree assault (CR § 3-202)
  • Second degree assault (CR § 3-203)
  • Assault by Strangulation
  • Reckless endangerment (CR § 3-204)
  • Kidnapping (CR § 3-502)
  • False imprisonment (common law offense)
  • Harassment (CR § 3-803)
  • Stalking (CR § 3-802)
  • Destroying, injuring, etc., property of another (CR § 6-301)
  • Unlawful use of telephone (CR § 3-804)
  • Trespass (CR § 6-402

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Additional Resources

Maryland’s Monthly Public Reports on Domestic Violence – Visit the website of Maryland’s Administrative Office of the Courts to find monthly public reports provide static data generated from a statewide database of protective and peace orders issued anywhere in the State of Maryland. The data includes statistics on petitioner/respondent demographics, grounds for granted orders, reasons for denied and dismissed petitions. The statistics are provided for final order hearings only and are broken out by case type (protective, peace, and juvenile peace.) Hearing outcome is not factored in, so all final orders are included regardless of the outcome (granted, dismissed, denied, rescinded.)

Domestic Violence Prosecutions in Baltimore City – Visit the website of the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office to learn more about Peace or Protective Orders. The civil orders are issued by a judge to prevent one person from committing certain acts of violence or threats of violence against others. The type of order depends on the nature of the personal relationship between the respondent and the alleged victim. Although protective orders usually apply to people in domestic relationships, peace orders can be filed between people in a dating relationship, neighbors, co-workers, acquaintances, strangers. A petition for protection from domestic violence may be filed in any District Court or Circuit Court in Maryland.


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Finding a Domestic Violence Lawyer in Baltimore, Maryland

My name is Jim Crawford. For the past 18 years, I have defended people in Baltimore, Catonsville, Annapolis, Bel Air and throughout Maryland who have been accused of child abuse, domestic violence, and other types of domestic cases. I offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case.

To protect your reputation and your family relationships, contact me, Maryland family law court and domestic violence cases attorney Jim Crawford before you talk to police or anyone else. I am available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

To contact a Maryland domestic violence lawyer, call 443-709-9999 today.