What do we do and what is going to happen to us?

My husband and I got into a fight for the first time ever and the my 3 kids were upstairs (and unware of anything happening and made sure of it) we've been married for over 10 years. The police was called out and they made us fill out paperwork. The officers told us that since this is the first dispute; that we get one chance to throw it out. We have both received a court date. We both made a mistake and don't want to press charges against each other. What should we do and what is going to happen? We are both scared.

Waldorf, MD -

Attorney Answers (2)

Keith R Havens

Keith R Havens

Family Law Attorney - Rockville, MD
Answered

I am assuming from your question, that the paperwork that you filled out was for a criminal complaint and that the trial date that each of you received is for a criminal case.

Under Maryland Law, a spouse cannot be compelled to testify against another spouse. There is one (1) exception to this rule. If a spouse claims that the other spouse abused him or her, they can refuse to testify once and after this one refusal is utilized, they can be compelled to testify against their spouse.

In your case, you will both need to appear for trial. If you both intend to refuse to testify against the other, then the State's Attorney will call the case and you will each state under oath that you do not want to testify against your spouse. This is done so that there is a record of your and your husband having used your spousal privilege.

I strongly suggest that each of you retain an attorney.

Thomas E Mulinazzi

Thomas E Mulinazzi

Family Law Attorney - Columbia, MD
Answered

If the "charges" you mention are criminal charges filed by the police, then each spouse can exercise his or her marital privilege NOT to testify only once under Maryland law. To allow this more would subject an abuse victim to coercion and intimidation not to testify. You can each contact the local (County) State's Attorneys Office (SAO) to The SAO may ask that you take behavioral management classes but they cannot require this. Later you can expunge the charge from your record by filling out a one page form and signing a General Release and Waiver against the accuser. You would be well served to discuss this with a criminal defense attorney.

If the "charges" filed where filed by you, then you can dismiss your own Petition for Protection from Domestic Violence by simply not appearing at the scheduled hearing. Since you are not there to prove your case, it will be dismissed. However, if you did take the time to write up a Petition for Protection then please consider discussing this matter with a domestic violence counselor. Domestic violence is a serious problem and it seriously traumatizes everyone in the household. There are number of fantastic resources available to you in your area such as "The House of Ruth."

Related Advice

Questions? An attorney can help.

Ask a Question
Free & anonymous.
Find a Lawyer
Free. No commitment.