Overview Of Domestic Violence Fatality Review Teams In Maryland
The State of Maryland recognizes the inherent danger of domestic violence situations, particularly as these cases often occur in the privacy of a family home. In addressing this harsh reality, the Maryland General Assembly created the domestic violence fatality review teams. These local teams exist on a county-by-county basis, working to help prevent deaths from domestic violence situations.
Definition of Domestic Violence
For the purposes of the fatality teams, Maryland Code of Family Section 4-701 defines “domestic violence” as any act of abuse between:
- Current or former spouses;
- Current or former cohabitants;
- Individuals who are parents to the same child; or
- Current or former romantic partners.
On a related note, the term “abuse” has a specific definition under Maryland Code of Family Section 4-501. This section defines abuse as:
- Rape or attempted rape;
- Sexual offense or attempted sexual offense;
- False imprisonment;
- Revenge porn;
- Child abuse;
- Any act that inflicts serious bodily harm; or
- Any act that causes fear of serious bodily harm.
Purpose of Domestic Violence Fatality Review Teams
Maryland Code of Family Section 4-704 establishes the purpose of the domestic violence fatality review teams. Under this section, these teams are tasked with preventing domestic violence deaths by:
- Advancing cooperation and communication between agencies involved in the investigation of domestic violence deaths;
- Promoting coordination and cooperation between agencies involved in the support of domestic violence victims, abusers, or surviving family members;
- Isolating common factors that relate to the causes of domestic violence deaths; and
- Conceiving plans and recommendations for positive changes within various agencies to help prevent domestic violence deaths.
Activities of Domestic Violence Fatality Review Teams
Section 4-704 also outlines the activities of domestic violence fatality review teams. It is worth noting that the domestic violence fatality teams exist on a local level. These local teams pull from appropriate agencies and service providers within a particular county, working together to help prevent domestic violence teams.
More specifically, Section 4-704 requires each domestic violence fatality review team to:
- Create and implement specific procedures to govern their local team;
- Review domestic violence cases that resulted in a fatality or serious physical injury within the specific county;
- Conduct at least one meeting per year to review the status of applicable domestic violence cases and isolate appropriate recommendations for improvement; and
- Prepare and distribute reports that include recommendations to improve coordination between agencies and implement changes on the local and state levels.
In terms of reviewing criminal cases of domestic violence that resulted in a fatality, there is a required waiting period under Section 4-704. In these cases, the local team must wait until:
- The criminal trial concludes in court; or
- The investigation of a suicide is closed.
Do You Need Legal Help?
If you need legal assistance with a Maryland case of domestic violence, Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered can help. Reach out to our Bel Air domestic domestic violence lawyers for help today.