Two new Maryland laws go into effect today that help protect victims of domestic violence.
A Marylander who is forced to leave their job to escape the threat of domestic violence can now gain unemployment insurance benefits, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown announced Monday. The law applies to residents trying to escape possible domestic violence to a victim, spouse, child or parent.
A second law requires a defendant's record to reflect any domestic relationship he or she had with a victim. It's up to judges to determine the extent of the relationship and mark it in criminal records at the time of sentencing, allowing other law enforcement to access information to quickly distinguish whether a crime is domestic violence-related.
Brown, whose cousin was murdered by an estranged boyfriend in August 2008, helped guide the legislation through the General Assembly earlier this year.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month in Maryland.
"Ending domestic violence in Maryland is a responsibility that all of us share, and Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a chance to reach out and educate Marylanders about stopping the violence," Brown said. "These new laws will help break the cycle of violence and ensure that more of our friends, relatives, and neighbors have an opportunity to live healthy, happy lives."