Domestic violence remains a deadly serious problem in Maryland; last year, 54 deaths in Maryland were attributed to domestic violence. Fortunately, Maryland continues to take responsible steps to modify its laws to provide greater protections to the potential victims.
This year, Maryland has joined with a large number of other states and the District of Columbia in making additional change to its domestic violence laws. A person eligible for relief under the domestic violence statute now is defined to include a person who has had a sexual relationship with the offender within one year before the filing of the petition. It also covers same-sex relationships. Having dating relationships added to the law provides greater protection to other individuals who may be subjected to domestic violence.
The legislature provided additional protections by expanding the authority of a court when issuing a final protective order and by broadening the nature of the relief the Judge can give. The Judge in a domestic violence hearing may now provide any other relief that it determines is “necessary to protect a person” from abuse. That allows the Judge the discretion to tailor the relief to the specific circumstances of the parties.
We are pleased that our legislature continues to take appropriate measures to reduce domestic violence and provide protection for the victims of it. It continues to a major problem in our community, and the law is gradually adapting to afford more significant protections to a greater number of people.