Maryland Domestic Violence Arrests

Police officers have discretion when deciding to make Maryland domestic violence arrests. Police officers can always choose to make an arrest if they suspect that the person has committed a felony. As far as misdemeanors are concerned, their discretion becomes pretty limited.

If the defendant of a domestic violence case has been accused of a felony assault against their spouse or significant other, the police officer could immediately make an arrest. A professional domestic violence attorney can help you prepare for the trial process.

What are the Regulations Surrounding Maryland Domestic Violence Arrests?

Officers can make an arrest based on that domestic violence assault even if it did not happen in their presence. They have to articulate that they believe that it was necessary to go ahead and make the arrest or the accuser would be subjected to further assault or some other type of danger, but that is pretty easy to articulate.

Most law enforcement agencies have received a lot of training about domestic violence situations, and they are going to err on the side of making an arrest. The fear surrounding not making an arrest is if the alleged victim ends up critically injured or dead after the police had their opportunity to make an arrest. They avoid that situation by making the arrest, and that is what makes it different from so many other types of assaults.

If an officer shows up, after the fact, to a bar fight, they are going to listen to what people have to say about it and will refer the person to the commissioner. When it comes to an assault that is domestic violence related, they are going to approach that in a very different way. They are going to be a lot more proactive in making an arrest.

Reasonable Fear of Imminent Serious Physical Harm

Reasonable fear of imminent serious physical injury or death is the portion of the law that allows the police officers to go ahead and make a warrantless arrest in an assault case because otherwise, the police officer would not make an arrest at that time for a misdemeanor that has not occurred in their presence.

How Reasonable Fear Impacts Assault Cases

The specific language, reasonable fear of imminent serious physical injury or death, is also one part of the first degree assault law. There are two different types of assaults in Maryland.

There is a second degree, which is the misdemeanor; and then there is first degree, which is the felony. Even if the victim was not seriously injured, if they were placed in fear that they would be seriously injured or killed then that assault rises from a second-degree assault up to a first-degree assault.

When it becomes a felony, then obviously many other consequences come into play because the person can be arrested and the charge is much more serious. It will impact their likelihood of getting a bond and how high their bond will be, and the possible outcome of the sentence could be much higher.

Understanding the Influence of Probable Cause

Under the law in Maryland, a person cannot charge somebody with a crime unless they have probable cause to believe that the crime was committed. However, probable cause for Maryland domestic violence arrests is considered the lowest burden of proof in the court system. The officer just has to show that it is more likely than not that the person committed a crime.

In Maryland, any citizen can go to the commissioner’s office and apply for charges against someone. The person can simply walk into the commissioner’s office, write down a statement, and if there is probable cause within that statement then the commissioner can issue charges against the defendant.