Tighter protective order rules threaten alleged offenders’ rights

Tighter protective order rules threaten alleged offenders’ rights

Several bills that would tighten Maryland’s domestic violence rules
are currently under consideration by the legislature. These changes are
designed to help victims of
domestic violence obtain protective orders against their abusers. Currently, Maryland is
the most difficult state for alleged victims who want to seek such a protective
order. The changes would make it easier to draft a permanent protective
order against those abusers accused of second-degree assault. That is
the most common criminal charge associated with domestic violence complaints.

Opponents of the measure argue that wording in the proposed legislation
could allow a conviction that was simply based on a child’s perception
of a crime. The new measure would not require the child to see or hear
the abuse, according to detractors. One Anne Arundel County woman says
that her deceased niece’s daughter still recounts the murder of
her mother by her father, even though she was only two years old at the
time of the incident. Some lawmakers think that a higher standard of proof
should be used to protect alleged offenders.

Currently, those seeking protective orders must demonstrate clear and convincing
proof in order to pursue such court action. This provides added protection
for alleged offenders. In all 49 other states, judges are permitted to
award protective orders based only on a preponderance of the evidence,
which is the same standard used in most civil court proceeding.

Alleged offenders who are subject to protective orders must refrain from
contacting their supposed victims. Their rights are further compromised
by the fact that they must surrender all firearms after the order is given.
It is no small matter, then, to be the target of an unfair order or protection.
Clients who believe their rights have been violated through the application
of a protective order may have some legal recourse. A Maryland criminal
defense attorney may be able to help.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, “Senators urged to strengthen state’s domestic violence laws” Michael Dresser, Jan. 28, 2014