Domestic Violence

The Howard County State's Attorney's Office recognizes that domestic violence is a significant problem in America, and Howard County is no exception.

The majority of domestic violence cases involves assault. Domestic violence, however, involves conduct and criminal acts other than assault, including violation of protective orders, stalking, telephone abuse, malicious destruction, false imprisonment, harassment, theft and burglary.

To reduce and eventually end this tragedy, the state's attorney's office is committed not only to eliminating an abuser's criminal behavior, but to educating victims of domestic violence about the community resources available to them.

Our office maintains a "pro-prosecution" policy aimed at holding abusers accountable for their actions and recommending appropriate sentences. However, proceeding to trial, although preferred, is not always the best solution. Complex and emotional issues surround each domestic violence case. The prosecutor has discretion to weigh the facts and circumstances of each case, including victim and community safety, and seek the appropriate outcome.

It must be remembered, though, that successful criminal prosecution depends in large part upon the willingness of victims to report domestic violence crimes and then to testify against their abusers. Many victims who report domestic violence are reluctant to prosecute the abuser when the trial date arrives. The Office of the State's Attorney utilizes the expert services of its Victim/Witness Assistance Unit to gain cooperation from domestic violence victims. We also collaborate with the Howard County Domestic Violence Center on cases in addition to supporting and assisting their efforts in working with our community. The Domestic Violence Center also provides "The New Behaviors Program", where offenders are referred to help them change their behavior and deal with anger more appropriately.

Office personnel, prosecutors and victim advocates all continuously update their knowledge and skills by attending seminars and workshops addressing domestic violence issues. We also seek cooperation with all agencies, public and private, that provide services to victims of domestic violence and assist those victims in receiving support services.