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Maryland laws stiffened to help domestic violence victims

Effective Oct. 1, Maryland has toughened its laws in an effort to increase protections for victims of domestic violence at the hands of a current or former romantic partners. A spokesperson for the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence noted in a report for Washington, D.C.'s WJLA news that these changes will help provide those victims with some of the same protections as those who are victims of spousal abuse.

One change involves restraining orders. They can now be taken out against a former romantic partner for as long as 12 months. That's twice as long as the previous limit.

Further, a Maryland judge can now order a person to surrender his or her guns if that person has committed an act of violence against a current or former romantic partner. According to the MNADV, almost three-quarters of all fatal incidents of domestic violence during the last fiscal year involved guns.

In addition to surrendering their weapons, according to the WJLA report, domestic abusers can also be ordered to surrender their green cards after the first domestic violence offense.

While the law helps crack down on those who commit acts of domestic violence, it also gives judges in the state more sentencing options so that abusers can get the help they often need to change their behavior. These include counseling programs for things like anger management and drug abuse as well as other mental health counseling.

The MNADV representative says that she expects these changes in the law to "make a big difference." She hopes that they will encourage those involved in non-spousal abusive relationships to seek protections from the justice system.

Those who are victims of abuse or violence by anyone, regardless of their current or former relationship should waste no time in seeking protection from their abuser. Those who know someone in this situation should do the same. A Maryland attorney can help seek the most effective legal protections possible.

Source: WJLA 7 Washington, D.C., "Maryland cracking down on domestic violence," Kevin Lewis, Sep. 27, 2015

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