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Police Duties & Victim Rights For Domestic Violence In Maryland

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When domestic violence occurs under Maryland law, there are required duties for any law enforcement officer involved. There are also rights afforded to the victim in these situations. But before delving into the specifics of these rights and duties, it will be helpful to review both sets of legal requirements for domestic violence in Maryland.

Acts of Abuse that Qualify as Domestic Violence

Maryland Code of Family Section 4-501 establishes the definition of domestic violence under state law. To qualify as domestic violence in Maryland, there are two different sets of requirements. The first requirement involves the commission of an act of abuse against the victim, such as:

  • Acts that result in the infliction of serious bodily harm;
  • Acts that lead to fear of imminent and serious bodily harm;
  • Assault in the first or second degree;
  • Abuse of a child or vulnerable adult;
  • False imprisonment;
  • Rape in the first or second degree, whether actual or attempted;
  • Revenge porn;
  • Sexual offense in the third or fourth degree, whether actual or attempted; or
  • Stalking.

Relationships that Qualify as Domestic Violence

Section 4-501 also outlines the second requirement for domestic violence. Effectively, domestic violence requires a certain type of relationship between the perpetrator and the victim. In order to qualify, the victim must be:

  • A vulnerable adult;
  • The current or former spouse of the perpetrator;
  • A cohabitant with the perpetrator;
  • Related to the perpetrator by way of blood, marriage, or adoption;
  • A parent or child of the perpetrator who lived in the same residence for at least 90 days in the past year;
  • A stepparent or stepchild of the perpetrator who lived in the same residence for at least 90 days in the past year;
  • The other parent to a common child with the perpetrator;
  • A person who had a sexual relationship with the perpetrator in the past year; or
  • An alleged victim of rape or sexual offense, actual or attempted, that the perpetrator committed in the past six months.

Duties of Law Enforcement in Domestic Violence Cases

Maryland Code of Family Section 4-502 creates the duties of law enforcement in cases of domestic violence. Any victim of domestic violence — or any person who believes there is a danger of serious and imminent bodily harm — may request the assistance of law enforcement.

Upon receipt of a report of suspected or potential domestic violence, Section 4-502 requires law enforcement to:

  • Protect the victim or other person from harm in the process of responding to the request for assistance; and
  • Accompany the victim or other person to the family home to remove certain personal items, including but not limited to clothing and medicine.

Victim’s Rights in Domestic Violence Cases

Maryland Code of Family Section 4-503 establishes certain victim’s rights in cases of domestic violence. When a police officer responds to a report of domestic violence, they must provide the following information to the alleged victim:

  • Telephone number for a local domestic violence program under the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services;
  • Information concerning the District Court commissioner’s ability to file a criminal case against the alleged perpetrator;
  • Materials concerning the State’s Attorney’s ability to file a criminal case against the alleged perpetrator;
  • Information on filing a petition with the District Court or Circuit Court; and
  • Materials concerning how to obtain a copy of the incident report from law enforcement.

Do You Need Legal Help?

For help from a skilled Bel Air domestic violence lawyer, reach out to Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered. Our attorneys can assist you today.

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