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Maryland politician tackles domestic violence issue

With the next Maryland gubernatorial election not too far in the distance, politicians are developing the platforms on which they will run. Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown is seeking to make domestic violence one of his issues, and he has proposed several ideas to help combat these physically and emotionally devastating crimes.

First, Brown has suggested he wants to change the standard for obtaining a final Protective Order. Current law requires a showing "clear and convincing evidence" of abuse, but Brown hopes to change this standard to one of a "preponderance of evidence," making it easier for domestic violence victims to obtain the long-term protection they need. Second, Brown hopes to impose harsher penalties on those who commit domestic violence in front of kids. Third, Brown wants to expand protection orders to cover those who are in non-marital relationships but may be dating or in a sexual relationship. Fourth, Brown hopes to create a $5 million fund to assist programs in targeting domestic violence.

These are lofty goals and ones that, if enacted, would likely help domestic abuse victims. Yet, the proposals are just that: proposals. If and until they become law, Maryland residents should know how they can obtain the protection they need if they are a victim of domestic abuse.

Those who are abused should first call 9-1-1 to obtain immediate help. Then, the victim can go to the courthouse to get a Temporary Protective Order. Within seven days of receiving this protection order, a hearing will be held to determine whether a final Protective Order is appropriate. An experienced family law attorney can assist in this process, fighting to show why immediate and permanent protection is needed.

Domestic abuse can turn deadly in a matter of moments. With her life, and perhaps those of her children, at stake, an abuse victim should not hesitate to get the help she needs.

Source: The Washington Post, "Brown proposes package of initiatives to curb domestic violence in Maryland," John Wagner, Oct. 29, 2013

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