Cumberland Times-News

October 9, 2012

New Md. domestic violence laws take effect this month

Courtney Pomeroy
The Frederick News-Post

— FREDERICK — The month of October is famously swathed in pink to mark breast cancer awareness. But the month has a less publicized designation for another issue that affects mostly women — domestic violence.

New Maryland laws help protect residents from abuse went into effect Oct. 1.

According to the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention in Maryland, 17,931 domestic violence crimes were reported in the state in 2010 and there were 18 domestic violence-related homicides that year.

Frederick County has been the site of several domestic-related slayings in recent years, including the 2011 shooting of Tranice Richardson by Melvin Smith, her former boyfriend and two 2009 cases where fathers in Mount Airy and Middletown killed their wives and children, then took their own lives.

Individuals will now be eligible to receive unemployment benefits if the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation determines that they left their job because they or a family member were a victim of domestic violence.

A new law will now allow crimes to be labeled “domestically related” if they occur between a defendant and a victim who have had a sexual relationship within the last year. That adds boyfriends and girlfriends to a group normally thought of as husbands and wives.