What Is a Federal Domestic Violence Charge?
The criminal charge of domestic violence is typically processed in state courts according to state or local laws. To federally aid overburdened state and local prosecutors, the Violence Against Women Act was passed in Congress in 1994. This act recognized that domestic violence is a serious crime. The act also said that the federal government can help state and local governments with this problem. It is against federal law to:
- Cross into another state with the intent to harm, stalk, or harass someone else
- Stalk or harass someone through the mail or using the internet
- Cross into another state with the intent to violate a protection from abuse order or another type of restraining order
It is also against the law to make a domestic partner cross into another state against the provisions of a protective order. In 1996, Congress made changes to the Gun Control Act, which included prohibiting domestic abusers or defendants in restraining orders from owning or possessing a gun. Most domestic violence cases will be handled by state and local governments. However, sometimes the federal government can help more than state and local governments can.
What Are the Potential Penalties for Federal Domestic Violence Convictions?
All federal domestic violence crimes are felonies that can result in a federal prison sentence. If you are convicted of domestic violence under federal law, then you could face severe penalties, including imprisonment for up to five years in a federal facility. If the victim was seriously injured or you used a dangerous weapon during the crime, then you could be sentenced to up to ten years in prison. If the victim suffered a permanently disfiguring injury, then you could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.
Victims of a crime under the Violence Against Women Act can result in restitution being ordered against the defendant to pay the victim back for all the costs that they have incurred from abuse. This includes money for medical or psychological care, physical therapy, transportation, temporary housing, childcare expenses, loss of income, attorney's fees, and any other losses that they may have suffered.
Other consequences include the potential for a criminal charge under the federal Gun Control Act. Under this law, it is illegal for “prohibited persons” to possess a firearm in any way. Having a domestic violence conviction results in the loss of an individual's second amendment right to bear arms. It is also illegal under this act for anyone that is the subject of a protection order from a court, such as a protection from abuse, to possess a firearm in any way.
What Are the Potential Defenses for Federal Domestic Violence Accusations?
There are several defenses that can be available for federal domestic violence accusations. There are a few questions that must be answered in determining your defense if you are charged with a federal domestic violence charge. These questions are: Did the events happen as the complaining witness claims they did? Did you cross state lines in any way? Is the complaining witness lying? Does he or she have a reason to lie about what happened? Were you acting in self-defense? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then your defense can be shaped based on your answers. If you are facing a federal domestic violence charge, then one of the above defenses might apply to your case.
In What Court Will Your Case Be Heard?
Your criminal case will be processed in federal District Court. If your case originates in Pennsylvania, then it will be heard in one of three federal District Courts: the central, middle, and eastern district courts. Federal cases are assigned to court based on where the alleged activity took place. If your alleged conduct occurred in central or eastern Pennsylvania, then your criminal case will be heard in the middle district court or eastern district court.
Cases can be appealed by the defense or prosecution to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Any further appeals would have to be made to the United States Supreme Court. Cases are only heard in the Supreme Court if the Court chooses to take the case. There is no constitutional right to have your case heard in the United States Supreme Court. An experienced attorney can assist you in understanding relevant court rules and how to defend your case.
How Hiring an Experienced Attorney Can Help
If you are facing criminal charges, it is important to have an experienced lawyer. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you understand the charges and the evidence against you. This information is important, so you understand what legal defenses are available. An experienced lawyer can also help you figure out if a trial is best or if it is better to work out a deal.
If you want to resolve your case, then your attorney can help you negotiate a deal. This means that you agree to plead guilty or no contest to a certain charge in exchange for a reduced sentence or other benefits. Make sure that you understand everything about your case and the potential consequences of a conviction before deciding anything. If you have legal questions, then contact us at the Lento Law Firm!
Why Hiring the Lento Law Firm Is the Right Choice
If you are being investigated or prosecuted federally for domestic violence, then it is important to speak to an experienced federal criminal defense attorney right away. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped people defend countless criminal charges in several jurisdictions. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to learn why hiring the Lento Law Firm is the right choice to help defend your federal case.