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Legislators may expand Maryland domestic violence laws

A new proposal in the Maryland General Assembly may expand Maryland domestic violence laws so as to allow additional people to obtain a protective order should they need one.

As an Anne Arundel County domestic violence lawyer would know, people who are the victims of domestic violence at the hands of former boyfriends or girlfriends cannot get a protective order. Only married couples, those partners who live together and those who share a child can obtain protective orders.

While others may get a so-called “peace order”, these types of court orders are intended more for neighbor disputes. They do not afford authorities the same flexibility as a protective order. For example, it might be easier for the target of a peace order to keep his or her guns during the term of the order. Furthermore, police as a rule cannot arrest a person on the spot for violating a peace order; unlike in the case of a protective order, an officer must go through the process of obtaining a warrant before making an arrest.

The present state of the law has led to tragedy, according to some in the know. For example, one woman was murdered even though she had a peace order that provided her some protection from the ex-boyfriend who eventually shot and killed her. The ex-boyfriend apparently had continued access to firearms.

It is not entirely clear how much support this measure has in the Maryland General Assembly, although groups like the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault have publically supported it. When the bill was introduced last year, its sponsor felt that it had solid support in general and claims that some of the details of the bill’s terms simply needed to be hashed out further.

Source: The Herald-Mail, “Bill introduced in Maryland General Assembly would broaden scope of protective order,” Kaustuv Basu, Feb. 5, 2013

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