Domestic violence heats up in Annapolis
The General Assembly is constantly debating ways to alter Maryland's domestic violence laws, but this year the issue is becoming the sleeper topic of the session. Most of the legislation under debate would strengthen domestic violence laws (such as a proposal to take guns from people who are subject to restraining orders), but the one that has sparked controversy this week nudges the law in the other direction. The proposal, sponsored in the House by Del. Luiz Simmons and in the Senate by Sens. Norman Stone and Mike Miller, would allow for the expungement of records related to a temporary restraining order if it never becomes a permanent order. According to Julie Bykowicz's story today, "records would be cleared if a judge denies an order after hearing from both the petitioner and respondent or if the accuser does not come to court."
Simmons, who managed to resurrect the idea after it narrowly failed in the House earlier this week, calls it a matter of fairness. If a person is not found to have committed abuse, he or she should not have to live with the taint, Simmons says. Opponents of the idea say falsely filed domestic violence complaints are rare and that victims often have a good reason -- such as intimidation -- for not coming forward.
What do you think?