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Proposed bill would change Maryland's domestic violence law

Domestic disputes can turn dangerous in a matter of moments. A spat over something seemingly minor can turn into physical domestic abuse resulting in severe injuries and even death. Though domestic violence victims may feel helpless, they can and should take steps to protect themselves. One Maryland family is trying to make it easier for these individuals to obtain the protection they need.

In September of last year, a Maryland mother of two was murdered by her children's father. The victim's family believes if extra protection would have been easier to obtain, she might have been saved. Maryland Delegate Kathy Vitale agrees. She has since sponsored House Bill 44, which would allow a domestic abuse victim to obtain both a protective order and a psychological evaluation at the same time.

Under current law, these two issues must be dealt with separately. The proposed law would give a judge discretion in deciding whether to order psychological evaluation based on testimony given during the protective order proceeding. It is hoped that eliminating the time between seeking a protective order and seeking a psychological evaluation will prevent domestic abuse victims from changing their mind, which can be deadly.

Though this law has only been proposed and may be far from enactment, there are still steps that can be taken by Marylanders who are subject to domestic violence in an effort to obtain protection. First, those who are in imminent danger should call 9-1-1 as quickly as possible. Then, a victim can seek a Temporary Protective Order. This order can be sought at any time, and lasts for seven days. Within that seven day period, a hearing will be had to determine whether a permanent protection order is needed.

With one's well-being at stake, it is important domestic abuse victims fight for protection. An aggressive, passionate Maryland attorney can help fight for the extensive protective measures needed to enable the victim to return the normal, safe life he or she deserves.

Source: Carroll County Times, "Annapolis murder victim's family testifies for tougher domestic violence laws," Sara Blumberg, Jan. 16, 2014

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