Local Domestic Violence Fatality Review Teams in Maryland
Recognizing the risk of death inherent with domestic violence cases, the Maryland General Assembly created the Local Domestic Violence Fatality Review Teams (“Local Teams”). These multidisciplinary and multiagency teams exist on a county level throughout the state to ensure that the worst domestic violence cases receive comprehensive review and treatment.
Purpose of Local Teams
As detailed in Maryland Code of Family Law Section 4-703, there is a multifaceted purpose for the Local Teams. Under this section, Local Teams exist to prevent domestic violence deaths by:
- Enhancing coordination and cooperation between agencies and other actors that investigate domestic violence or provide domestic violence services;
- Deliver crucial services and support to domestic violence victims and their families as well as abusers; and
- Conceive and deliver recommendations for improving investigation and support of domestic violence.
Activities of Local Teams
Section 4-704 also provides the activities the Local Teams should perform to satisfy their purpose. There are four categories of activities for Local Teams in this context.
First, each Local Team must create protocols and rules to govern their operations. Implementation of these protocols enables each Local Team to run smoothly and accomplish its objectives.
Second, each Local Team should review and assess their county data for any domestic violence that involved death or serious physical injury. Though the Local teams may only review criminal cases after conclusion of the court case or suicide investigation.
Third, each Local Team must conduct at least one meeting per year to:
- Review county data for domestic violence involving death or serious injury, if any; and
- Recommend actions to improve coordination and reduce domestic violence deaths.
Fourth, each Local Team must prepare reports that include recommendations on:
- Improving coordination of domestic violence services and investigations;
- Highlighting needed changes to prevent domestic violence deaths; and
- Implementing any changes recommended by the Local Team.
Members of Local Teams
As established in Maryland Code of Family Law Section 4-703, the members of a Local Team come from a variety of organizations, backgrounds, and areas of expertise. More specifically, the members of a Local Team come from:
- Survivors of domestic violence or abuse;
- Domestic violence service providers;
- Battered victim intervention service providers;
- Domestic violence coordinating council;
- Police and law enforcement departments;
- Office of the State’s Attorney’s;
- Local health and social services departments;
- Division of Parole and Probation;
- Hospitals and other healthcare providers;
- Office of the Chief Medical Examiner;
- Judges and clerks from the local courts; and
- Other individuals necessary to perform the functions of a Local Team.
It is worth noting that Section 4-703 merely recommends that members of Local Teams come from the categories above. But this section does not require Local Teams to pull from every one of the categories above.
Do You Need Legal Help?
If you need legal assistance with a domestic violence case in Maryland, it can be highly productive to contact a distinguished Bel Air domestic violence attorney. The attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered have more than 60 years of combined legal experience in family and criminal law, including domestic violence cases. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.