Baltimore & Towson Lawyer Discusses Proving Domestic Violence
Throughout the years, there has been much discussion about the burden of proof a domestic violence victim must meet to get a final court order of protection. For years, Maryland has required victims to provide the judge with proof or evidence that is “clear and convincing” with respect to the allegations made against the accused individual that he or she committed any one of the many prohibited acts under the domestic violence laws.
However, as of October 2014, the state law changed to allow victims to use the “preponderance of the evidence” standard when seeking to obtain or extend a final order of protection from the court.
What Does ‘Burden of Proof’ Mean and Why is it Important in Domestic Violence Cases?
Simply stated, a party’s “burden of proof” in litigation is the individual’s obligation or duty to prove his or her case in a hearing. There are various burdens of proof that can be used in court proceedings, and depending on the type of case being heard, the burden of proof will be set accordingly.
Most people are familiar with the standard that requires individuals to establish guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is typically the burden required in criminal cases. The standard simple means what it says -- the members of the jury must have no doubt as to the accused individual’s guilt (or, if they do have doubts, they must be unreasonable).
The standard required in Maryland domestic violence cases prior to the change in law was “clear and convincing,” which essentially requires less than what is needed to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but more than the newly-permitted “preponderance of the evidence” standard.
“Preponderance of the evidence,” which is the standard applied in many civil cases, is the lowest burden of proof an individual must meet. It requires just enough proof to show that a fact is more likely than not to be true (or more probable than not, meaning greater than a 50 percent chance, even if just slightly over).
Consider this: Let’s say there’s a situation in which a party has been subjected to constant control and manipulation by another individual; however, the threats the victim experienced may not be enough to sway a judge’s mind under the clear and convincing standard. Under the preponderance of the evidence standard, though, the judge might be more inclined to determine that the threats experienced by the victim were enough to cause reasonable fear of “serious imminent bodily harm” (which is one of the prohibited acts under the law).
Let a Towson Domestic Violence Attorney Help You
Once a final order of protection has been granted, there are a number of remedies available to the victim, including the fact that the alleged abuser must discontinue all contact with the victim, surrender any and all firearms, temporarily give up custody of any shared children and stay away from the family home.
If you have questions about a domestic violence incident in which you or a loved one has been involved, do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Amar Weisman, LLC as soon as possible.
Amar S. Weisman Is a Baltimore County Domestic Violence Lawyer
Call The Law Offices of Amar S. Weisman at (410) 321-4994 to schedule a Free Consultation. The Purpose of the consultation is to determine whether you want to retain this law firm as your Baltimore & Towson Family Lawyer. If you do wish to proceed, then you must pay a retainer. See Our Policy on Fees and Costs. The family firm is located next to The Circuit Court for Baltimore County, at 1018 Dulaney Valley Road, Towson, MD 21204.