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Legal assistance can help to prevent domestic violence

Domestic violence is a problem that affects many women in Maryland. Each year, there are around 1.3 million women in the U.S. who endure a physical assault from their significant other, and three women die in the U.S. each day from injuries sustained during a domestic violence incident.

A person who is facing domestic assault charges is guaranteed representation from a court-appointed attorney, but a domestic assault victim is not. Victims of domestic violence often need legal help for civil matters like securing protective orders or petitioning for full custody of children. A domestic violence victim who does not have an attorney is less likely to be successful in the civil petition. Civil protective orders can be very important in domestic violence cases where offenders are not criminally prosecuted.

According to a study on domestic violence survivors, 83 percent of survivors who had representation from an attorney were successful in getting a protective order against their abuser. On the other hand, just 32 percent of survivors with no attorney were successful in the same effort. An Institute for Policy Integrity report showed evidence that legal advocacy for domestic violence victims reduces domestic violence more effectively than counseling or access to shelters.

A legal protective order can be an effective deterrent to domestic violence because it is a court order saying that the abuser cannot make further contact with the victim. An abuser who violates the protective order in some way could face criminal penalties for violating the order even if there was no new domestic assault. A family law attorney can often help a domestic assault victim in petitioning the appropriate court for a protective order.

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