For purposes of a Domestic Violence “Protective Order,” Maryland law defines “Abuse” as the occurrence of one or more of the following acts:

  • Assault
  • An act that places a person in fear of imminent serious bodily harm
  • An act that causes serious bodily harm
  • Rape or sexual offense
  • Attempted rape or sexual offense
  • Stalking
  • False imprisonment, such as interference with freedom, physically keeping you from leaving your home or kidnapping you.

We’ll be posting a series of articles about domestic violence cases in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

In Maryland you can file for a “Protective Order” in any District Court or Circuit Court for protection from abuse from someone who is a member of your family or household.

When the abuser is someone who is not a member of your family or household, you can file for a “Peace Order.” A Peace Order can only be obtained in District Court.

“How much will my custody case cost?” is a question I hear over and over.  I don’t know is the answer.  If things go well, if both parents and attorneys are reasonable, and you are lucky, the cost may be below my initial retainer of $5,000 and you will get a refund. If you get into litigation, your fees could be two or three times that, or even more.  The sky really is the limit.

Witness the Toronto case known as M. and F.  The mother alleged that the father was not entited to overnight visits with their six year old son because he had been violent toward her.  That made him, according to the mother, unsafe to be alone with the child. The mother owns a successful insurance brokerage.  The father is a lawyer.

The trial lasted 34 days. Then the case went to the Ontario Court of Appeal.  In the end, the father won.  The court ordered the mother to pay $540,000 of the father’s legal fees.  The total amount of legal fees spent by the two parents was over two million dollars.

Former football star Chad Johnson is in the news for refusing to participate in the divorce filed in Florida by his wife, Evelyn Lozada.  He won’t sign divorce papers or appear in court.

Instead he is trying to win back his wife.  Since his arrest for domestic violence in August, Johnson has apologized publicly, tweeted his affection for his wife and had her face tattooed on his leg.

This sounds pretty heroic, but it may be more like Don Quixote tilting at windmills.  When a spouse has taken the drastic action of filing a lawsuit for divorce, it is usually too late to change her mind.  Lozada doesn’t appear to be interested in reconciling.  And the court doesn’t need Johnson to be grant a divorce.

We all have the need for love and the need to control our surroundings.  Johnson needs to accept the premise that he cannot control this situation.  This takes time.  Lozada and her lawyers might be rushing him.

In November of last year, Frederick Wood, 29, of Maryland, was involved in a domestic altercation with his 27 year old girlfriend.  The police report noted extensive injuries to her.

Wood was charged with second-degree assault, a misdemeanor.  His case came to trial on March 10 before Judge Darrell Russell, Jr., District Court Judge for Baltimore County, Maryland.

When the case was called, Wood’s attorney asked that the trial be taken off the calendar because the couple intended to marry.  The wife could then invoke spousal privilege which would prevent her from testifying against her husband and the case would be dismissed.

The judge refused but he did declare a break in the trial that day so they could obtain a marriage license.  When they returned to the courtroom with the license, Judge Russell married them in his chambers.  He found the defendant not guilty.

Judge Russell has been reassigned to chambers by the Chief Judge, and the House of Ruth said it  intends to make a complaint to the Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities.

Additional Coverage:

Maryland Daily Record
11 News I-Team