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Maryland judge marries alleged abuser and victim during criminal proceeding

People don't expect that victims of domestic violence will choose to continue a relationship with their abuser. However, in one case a Maryland judge effectively dismissed a domestic violence allegation by marrying the suspected offender and victim in the middle of the defendant's criminal proceeding.

The defendant was on trial for allegedly beating his fiancé. According to reports, the man's fiancé called police in November and said he hit, kicked, and dragged her across the floor. Officers reported that when they arrived at the scene of the attack, the woman had a swollen face and bloody nose.

The woman was the key witness against her fiancé when the couple requested that the court adjourn until they could be married. In Maryland, courts cannot force wives to testify against their husbands in criminal court.

The judge not only granted the request, but he offered to officiate the wedding. Just hours later, the couple exited the judge's chambers as man and wife.

Under normal circumstances, Maryland law requires 48 hours between obtaining a marriage license and the actual wedding. Here, however, the judge waived the requirement. After the couple was married, the judge dismissed the criminal case.

This is an unusual situation, but one should not overlook the underlying facts. Victims of domestic violence do have options under the law. Aside from the option to obtain a temporary protective order, the woman in this case could have testified against her fiancé, and her testimony could have facilitated his conviction.

Domestic violence is a serious issue in Maryland and beyond. Fortunately, victims of domestic violence have legal options. They can seek out a Temporary Protective Order at any time of the day, seven days a week. Victims of domestic violence would also be wise to speak with an experienced attorney.

Source: WBALTV, "I-Team: Judge Married Woman, Suspected Abuser," Mar. 16, 2012

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