Protective Order for Domestic Violence Overturned on Appeal

A protective order for domestic violence was entered by the District Court for Howard County against a 33 year old analyst after his estranged wife filed a petition requesting a restraining order based on alleged domestic violence and domestic assault. The husband appealed, knowing that he had done nothing wrong. Under Maryland law, an appeal is heard in the Circuit Court “de novo,” meaning a new trial as if the first one had never taken place. The client was represented by a different lawyer in the unsuccessful first trial, and knew he needed an experienced Howard County domestic violence lawyer for the appeal. That’s why he retained Jonathan Scott Smith, an aggressive former prosecutor with more than 30 years of courtroom experience with a track record of successful results.

Maryland family law permits a person to file a petition and obtain a protective order if there is clear and convincing evidence of “abuse.” Abuse means an act that causes serious bodily harm; an act that places a person in fear of imminent serious bodily harm; assault in any degree; rape or sexual offense; false imprisonment; and stalking. A court may grant a wide range of relief, including: an order to leave the home; an order not to abuse, contact, or harass; an order to stay away from the victim’s residence and work, and the children’s school and child care provider. In addition, the court may grant exclusive use and possession of the family home and vehicle, custody, child access, and emergency family maintenance.

In many cases, the protective order law is abused by people who want to end their marriage and manipulate the legal process to gain an unfair advantage in divorce and custody cases. In the current case, the wife acknowledged that she wanted out of the marriage. She filed for a protective order after leaving the family home, and admitted under cross examination that she not only wanted custody, but to have the child “all the time.”

The wife claimed a long history of alleged abuse and injuries. However, there wasn’t any corroborating evidence. Under extensive questioning by Mr. Smith, she admitted she had never been treated by a hospital or doctor; the police had never been called to the home; there weren’t any witnesses; and there weren’t any photographs of any injuries. In fact, the woman even admitted that she continued living with her husband and sleeping in the same bed after the last alleged incident of abuse. Her claims were also contradicted by testimony she had given earlier, and even by her own petition signed under oath.

The case was heard in the Circuit Court for Howard County. After hours of testimony and argument, the judge concluded that there wasn’t clear and convincing evidence of domestic violence and denied the protective order.

If you or a loved one are falsely accused of domestic violence or domestic assault, and someone is seeking a restraining order or protective order, call Jonathan Scott Smith now 410-740-0101 or contact his office online for immediate help.


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