Domestic Violence Assault Successfully Defended in Baltimore County District Court Maryland Criminal Attorneys handle a wide variety of criminal cases. Among the most common types of cases we see are domestic violence or family violence assaults. Prosecutors and Police categorize a case as domestic violence if it involves people who are involved in a romantic relationship whether or not they are married or children.

As noted, these cases are increasingly common in the District and Circuit courts primarily because the police and prosecutors have become increasingly aggressive over the past few years in investigating, charging and prosecuting these matters. In many cases by the time these matters make it to court the parties have reconciled and the alleged victim will not cooperate with the authorities in the prosecution of the case. In other cases the alleged victim exaggerates or even fabricates the incident entirely because of some other motivation such as child custody or simple revenge. I tried a case falling into this latter category this week in the District Court for Baltimore County. Here are the facts:

My client is a 22 year old man with no prior criminal record or history of domestic abuse. At the time of the incident he was living with his girlfriend and their 1 year old daughter as well as her five year old son from a previous relationship. He came home one evening after work to find the house in a state of disarray as well as the children to be dirty and hungry. His girlfriend was talking on the telephone and essentially ignored him when he entered the home. Needless to say this made him a little angry.

He did not confront her and instead changed his daughter’s dirty diaper and began to feed the children. His girlfriend, while still on the phone, began to yell at him telling him that he was feeding the baby the wrong food and calling him an idiot and other profane insults. My client then lost his temper and took her phone from her and threw it over the second story balcony of their home. Both parties agree with the facts up to this point but no further. My client says that at this point his girlfriend attacked him repeatedly punching him in the chest and face. He says that after being struck five or six times he pushed her away causing her to stumble into a chair and fall to the ground. She sustained no injury. He then left the house.

His girlfriend then called the police and told the responding officer that my client had grabbed her by the hair and smacked her hard across her face with an open hand. The showed the officer a clump of hair that she claimed my client pulled from her head in the struggle. The officer documented her story in his report and noted that she had no visible injuries. My client’s girlfriend then went to the commissioner and filed assault charges against my client for which he was arrested a few days later. In the statement of charges she wrote a different and far more harrowing version of the events of that day. In that document she claimed that my client had knocked her down and then pulled her back up by her shirt only to knock her down again. At this point, she wrote, he put both hands around her neck choking her and then punched her three times in the back of the head.

Upon hiring me approximately 2 weeks after the incident, I advised my client to file counter charges against her for assaulting him which he did. The cases were consolidated for trial and we all appeared in the Catonsville location of the District Court for Baltimore County. The Assistant State’s Attorney (ASA) advised me that she intended to dismiss the charges that my client filed against his girlfriend as she believed they were retaliatory in nature. She offered my client probation and domestic violence counseling. I advised my client to reject this offer and take the matter to trial and he concurred.

Prior to trial I advised the ASA that I would be willing to stipulate to the police officers report if she did not want to call him in to testify and she agreed. I wanted the report in because it contained a version of her story markedly different from the one I knew she would tell on the stand based on the Statement of Charges that she file and really didn’t want to give the officer a chance to say something different that what he wrote in the report. As I expected she testified in a manner consistent with what she wrote in the Statement of Charges. I then cross examined her on the significant differences between what she told the responding officer and what she had testified to in court.

My client then testified as to what he says happened and I rested my case. My argument for an acquittal was a pretty easy one to make. I argued that even in a standard he said/she said case the staff has a high mountain to climb to convince a court of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt but in this case we have an alleged victim who tells wildly inconsistent stories either of which is contradicted by the fact that the officer noted no visible injuries on her even though he arrived just minutes after the incident. The ASA tried to argue that people who have just gone through a stressful event often forget to tell the officer everything that happened and suggested that this was the reason that her stories were inconsistent. I responded that her explanation might be persuasive if she had simply added facts additional to what she had told the officer but, I argued, that is not what happened in this case. In this case she told highly specific but very different versions of the same event which, in my view, strongly suggests exaggeration or even fabrication. Finally I argued, that the bottom line is that based on the inconsistent stories and lack of visible injury the State had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt what had occurred that day and that for that reason he must be found not guilty. The court agreed with my argument and acquitted the defendant.

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