35 years ago, the TV movie The Burning Bed brought spousal abuse and domestic violence into the front of the public consciousness. The famous Farrah Fawcett film and a 1980 book of the same name were based on a 1970s case where a Michigan woman doused a bed in gasoline and set it on fire with her husband still sleeping on it. A jury eventually found the woman was temporarily insane at the time, after having heard evidence of the husband’s alleged 13 years of abusing the wife.
Since 1991, Maryland law has allowed defendants to submit evidence of the domestic abuse they’ve suffered as part of their defense in a criminal trial. Despite some of the terminology used related to this issue (“Battered Woman’s Syndrome”, “Battered Spouse Syndrome,” etc.,) you do not, in Maryland, have to be a spouse or be a woman to use this evidence in your defense. If you are on trial and you were the victim of abuse, especially if your abuser was the victim of your alleged crime, then it is vitally important that you have a knowledgeable Maryland criminal defense attorney on your side to give you the maximum protection and best defense possible.
A woman recently on trial here in Maryland alleged that she was one of those abuse victims. The deceased, M.H., was the accused’s boyfriend. During a fight between the two, the woman yelled at the man to stop putting his hands on her, then went to the kitchen and got a knife. Eventually, the man received a stab wound to the chest, which punctured his aorta and killed him.