Building a Domestic Violence Defense in Maryland

Accusations of household abuse can have devastating effects on your professional and personal life. Therefore, it is important to prepare a robust case against allegations of domestic abuse. However, building a domestic violence defense in Maryland can be challenging without a well-practiced attorney. An accomplished domestic violence attorney could review your situation and determine what defense strategies may be available based on the circumstances and the evidence they find.

What Evidence is Crucial in Domestic Violence Case?

In Maryland, an accused individual can help prepare their domestic violence defense by preserving any documented communications, such as text messages, emails, anything in writing, interactions over social media, call records, or voicemails. Witness testimony also can be essential in preparing a defense if there are other individuals involved. It is important to note that witness statements are most helpful when the person is neutral, which sometimes can be difficult in domestic violence cases.

Often, there are different versions of events, one from the accuser and one from the defendant. Anything that may call into question the accuser’s version and could support the defendant’s story may be helpful.

Prior statements to the court could be useful in finding weaknesses in the accuser’s story. For instance, sometimes a complainant requests a protective order and makes one statement, then provides different information in a criminal case. Overall, anything that demonstrates inconsistency from the accuser can be useful

Role of an Attorney in Gathering Evidence

While much of the evidence for a case may come from the accused individual themselves, an attorney could subpoena relevant information from other witnesses, phone companies, or internet service providers if they want to get additional data. A lawyer also could pull documents regarding any related protective order, such as statements and transcripts from a hearing.

Attorneys advise accused individuals to avoid having any contact with the complainant, especially if there is a protective order in place. In most situations, it is a good idea, even if the court does not issue a protective order, to have no contact with the complainant until a case is over.

An attorney also may conduct interviews, go to a scene, and take photographs. Then, they would review all of this information, evaluate its reliability, and determine how it may benefit or hurt the defendant. If it may hurt the defendant’s case, the defense attorney would not use that evidence, but if it is information the prosecutor may use, then they may prepare a defense in the face of this information.

What Constitutes Self-Defense?

Self-defense is a principle that establishes that although an accused individual’s conduct may have met the elements of assault or violent behavior, the conduct may be legally justified in certain situations. Specifically, the self-defense doctrine holds that a defendant’s actions that may otherwise constitute the crime of assault are legally justified if the defendant reasonably believed that they were in immediate and imminent danger of bodily harm and that they used no more force than was reasonably necessary to defend themselves. A situation may qualify as reasonable belief if an individual has already been attacked or assaulted. An accused individual may have been acting in self-defense or may have felt they were acting in self-defense, especially if they were not the instigator or initiator of the conflict. If these elements are met, a person should not be convicted of assault.

There is one important nuance to preparing this domestic violence defense. In Maryland, the defendant does not have to prove they acted in self-defense, but they do have to raise the issue. Once the defendant shows some support of self-defense, the prosecutor then must prove that this story does not have enough evidentiary support. An experienced lawyer should know how to navigate these legal requirements and connect them concretely to the evidence.

Other Common Defenses in Domestic Violence Cases

If the charges against a person relate to alleged threats made over text message or social media, there may be a defense that those messages were not actually sent from the defendant but could have been another person using the defendant’s account. However, if someone allegedly made a threat in person, this strategy may not be available.

A Maryland attorney could build a domestic violence defense as it relates to the credibility of the accuser. Sometimes a domestic relationship can create a bias or other motivation for someone to lie or make false accusations, so the reliability or credibility of the statements from an accuser may be at issue.

Defense of others is similar to self-defense in terms of its definition. It may apply to a case when the defendant had reason to believe that there were other people in immediate and imminent danger of bodily harm and that they used no more force than was reasonably necessary to defend these other people.

Contact an Attorney for Help Creating a Domestic Abuse Defense in Maryland

It is important with domestic violence charges that the lawyer is familiar with these types of claims because every case is different. Often, there is not a lot of hard, tangible evidence such as documents or video recordings. Instead, evidentiary support tends to be testimonial in nature.

Additionally, domestic violence cases can be sensitive and emotional, which may require a delicate and experienced touch in negotiations and in presenting a case to a judge or a jury. All of these are skills best-developed by an attorney who has encountered a variety of cases.

A criminal conviction in a domestic violence case can have serious repercussions, including substantial time in jail in some situations. Therefore, an accused individual should retain a skilled lawyer for help with building a domestic violence defense in Maryland. A seasoned attorney knows how to look for corroborating evidence that may not be apparent and could look for ways to undermine the prosecutor’s case by applying their knowledge of the law and rules of procedure.