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If you have been physically abused or threatened, you may consider contacting the police and filing criminal charges. Typical misdemeanor charges are assault, telephone misuse, trespass and harassment. If a weapon is used, an abuser may be charged with a felony. If the abuser tried to force you to have sex, you may file charges for sexual assault. There are different levels of sexual assault.
Steps for filing criminal charges are outlined on the Maryland District Court website. See Criminal Complaints.
A police officer may make an arrest without a warrant for a misdemeanor not committed in the officer's presence if the officer has probable cause to believe:
Read the Law: MD Code, Crim. Proc. §2-203
In all criminal cases, the State's Attorney is in effect the victim's lawyer; so no private attorney is necessary. If there are any witnesses to the assault, the names should be provided to the State's Attorney with a request that they be summonsed.
In Maryland a "restraining order" refers to a peace or protective order. When you are threatened with imminent harm, or have already been harmed in some way by your abuser, a restraining order may be necessary.
You usually need an attorney to get a restraining order. Contact one of the Domestic Violence legal clinics in Maryland or call the House of Ruth at 1-888-880-7884.
Currently, a person may be prosecuted under the rape law if the parties 1) have lived "separate and apart" without sexual relations (not living together) and there is a written separation agreement executed by both parties; or 2) have lived "separate and apart" without sexual relations without a separation agreement for at least three months immediately before the sexual offense.
A person may be prosecuted for an offense described below if the parties are living together and the person uses force against the will and without consent of the person's legal spouse.
If you think this may be an issue, you should contact a lawyer.
Read the Law: MD Code, Crim. Law §3-301 through §3-323
In Maryland, you do not have to testify against your abuser if you are married to each other. This is called spousal immunity. If you have claimed spousal immunity once before in an abuse case (a case against the same abuser) the court may not allow you to claim that immunity a second (or third) time and the court may require that you testify. Maryland can force you to testify against your spouse/batterer on a charge of assault and battery if:
Yes, a jail sentence may be imposed. However, a sentence involving probation and counseling is much more likely. If a person is convicted of assault and/or battery, the sentence imposed by the judge will depend on the severity of the assault, the abuser's criminal record and the discretion of the sentencing judge.
Yes, a judge may order an abuser to any or all of these treatment programs, usually as a condition of probation or attached to a charge that has been "stetted". (Upon motion of the State's Attorney, the court may indefinitely postpone trial of a charge by marking the charge "stet" on the docket.)
Yes. A judge can order a convicted abuser to pay restitution for damage to property or for injury to the victim. It may also be possible to get reimbursed as part of a divorce action or in a civil suit for assault.
This site offers legal information, not legal advice. We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options. However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney. The Maryland State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site. In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – www.peoples-law.org. © Maryland State Law Library, 2013.”