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Study shows Montgomery Co. abusers not made aware of consequences

A new study shows Montgomery County Circuit Court Judges may not be doing enough to ensure victims of domestic violence are protected and their abusers are aware of the consequences of their actions. The report, conducted by Montgomery Court Watch, showed during 47% of hearings, a judge failed to tell an abuser he could go to jail for violating a protective order, during 55% of hearings alleged abusers were not informed they must give up any guns they may have, and during 35% of hearings the court failed to follow safety procedures implemented to keep women safe, such as preventing an alleged abuser from leaving the courthouse at the same time as the victim.

These statistics may be startling. However, in the majority of cases, domestic violence victims are treated with dignity and respect, and alleged abusers are notified of the consequences of their actions. Still, it is important a victim of domestic abuse knows her legal rights when facing her abuser. A Maryland attorney can help inform her of those rights and can help remind an abuser of the consequences of his actions.

While the instances shown in the study address those domestic violence situations where a restraining order has already been obtained, domestic violence victims who have not yet obtained a protection order should know what steps they can take to obtain protection. First, if the abuse is imminent, the victim should call 9-1-1 for the most immediate protection. Then, the victim can seek a Temporary Protective Order, which can be obtained at any time. Within seven days of receiving the temporary order, a hearing will be held to determine whether a permanent order is necessary.

The initial steps listed above should be handled without delay and can be conducted without an attorney. When attempting to obtain a final protection order, it may be helpful to have an attorney who can provide the legal arguments necessary during the hearing. When an individual's life is on the line, it is in his or her best interest to seek all the help he or she can get.

Source: WUSA 9, "Montgomery County Circuit Court Judges Can Do More To Protect Domestic Violence Victims, Study Say," Scott Broom, Nov. 14, 2013

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