The Maryland Senate sent a bill to the governor Monday night that would end the state’s distinction as the only one in the country that requires victims of domestic violence to meet a higher standard of “clear and convincing evidence” to obtain a protective order.
Under the legislation, which passed the chamber unanimously, the standard for a peace or protective order would become a “preponderance of the evidence.”
Similar versions of the bill — sponsored this year by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) — had fallen short on the four occasions they were introduced by lawmakers over the past decade.
The Senate also gave final passage Monday night to separate bill that would add second-degree assault to the list of crimes for which a person can obtain a permanent final protective order. Both bills had been previously approved by overwhelming margins in the House of Delegates.
“By passing these two critically needed bills, we are making it easier for victims to obtain peace and protective orders from abusers and helping ensure safer communities and safer homes for all of our families,” Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D), who has championed the legislation, said in a statement Monday night.
Both Brown and Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, a Democratic rival for governor this year, are emphasizing their work to combat domestic violence during this year’s campaign.
Another bill nearing passage would allow judges to impose harsher sentences when acts of violence are committed in the presence of a child. Both Brown and Gansler have pushed similar versions of that legislature during this year’s session of the General Assembly.
The Senate also sent a bill to the governor Monday night that would allow the establishment of a new consumer affairs satellite office of the attorney general in Prince George’s County. That has been a priority for Gansler this year.