New Maryland domestic violence laws take effect this month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Possibly to mark this occasion, Maryland has enacted new domestic violence laws. Thanks to this new legislation, Maryland domestic violence lawyers will have some new tools with which to protect victims.

One new Maryland domestic violence law allows victims to claim unemployment benefits if the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation determines they left their job due to domestic violence. This applies both to victims and to family members of the victim.

Another new law allows the court system to flag cases as domestic-related. This allows judges, prosecutors and others involved in the case to have a clearer picture of what is going on in the case. As Maryland doesn’t have a separate crime for domestic violence, this new law gives victims recognition for the unique challenges involved in a domestic violence case as opposed to any other violent crime, such as assault.

The new law gives a “domestically related” label to crimes that occur between a defendant and a victim who have had a sexual relationship within the past year. In the past, domestic violence was thought to only be between husbands and wives, ex-husbands and wives, those who cohabit and people who have children in common.

The new law will also help Maryland keep better track of domestic violence statistics and could make it easier on organizations that help prevent domestic violence.

A third law prevents harassment by electronic means, including cyber-stalking, threats, hacking, extortion, etc. In this day and age, cyber-harassment is a common problem and, because it’s often hard to trace, it has been difficult to enforce within the framework of Maryland’s traditional harassment laws. This law will better protect victims from the psychological trauma of online harassment.

In addition to the laws previously mentioned, other legislation recently passed will allow the extension of peace or protective orders and the removal of certain court records concerning domestic violence from judiciary websites.

Hopefully, these new laws will aid victims and will reduce the number of domestic violence cases in Maryland.

Source: York Daily Record, “In Maryland, new domestic violence laws will go into effect this month,” Courtney Pomeroy, Oct. 6, 2012

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