What Is an Interstate Domestic Violence Charge?
Most domestic violence charges are prosecuted at the state level under state law. This is because most domestic violence cases don't have an element in them that can result in a federal charge. There are two main ways that a domestic violence charge can be authorized under federal law at 18 USC 2261, they are:
- Travel of the offender: If someone travels in interstate or foreign commerce or enters or leaves Indian country or is present within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States with the intent to kill, injure, harass, or intimidate a spouse, intimate partner, or dating partner.
- Travel of the Victim: If someone causes a spouse, intimate partner, or dating partner to travel in interstate or foreign commerce or to enter or leave Indian country by force, coercion, duress, or fraud due to an act or threat of domestic violence, then the offender can face interstate domestic violence charges.
Once people travel across state lines, then the potential of federal charges increases exponentially. It is important to understand the penalties you may face at both the state and federal levels, as any cases would operate independently. If you are being investigated or prosecuted for interstate domestic violence, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney right away.
What Are the Potential Penalties for Interstate Domestic Violence Convictions?
All federal crimes of domestic violence are serious offenses that can result in a prison sentence. If you are convicted of domestic violence under federal law, 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 commission of the offense, then you can face up to ten years in prison. If the victim suffered a permanently disfiguring injury, the maximum sentence increases to 20 years.
Victims of an interstate domestic violence crime can get restitution from the person who did it under the Violence Against Women act. This is money to pay back for all the costs that the victim has had because of the 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.
If you have a domestic violence conviction, you will not be able to own a gun. If you have a protection order against you, you also will not be able to own a gun. The federal Gun Control Act determines who can own a gun and states that it is illegal for “prohibited persons” to possess a firearm in any way. Having a domestic violence conviction deems the individual to be a prohibited person under the Act. The Act also prohibits anyone that is the subject of a protection order from a court, such as a protection from abuse from possessing a gun.
What Are the Potential Defenses for Interstate Domestic Violence Accusations?
Interstate domestic violence charges have several potential defenses that can lead to an acquittal or dismissal of the charges. Some of the most common defenses include:
- Untruthful witness
- There is no interstate element
This is not a complete list of potential defenses. Any of the above topics can aid in your defense against a charge of interstate domestic violence. If you are facing an interstate domestic violence charge, then one of the above defenses might apply to your case.
In What Court Will Your Case Be Heard?
Your federal criminal case will be heard in federal District Court. If your case arises in Pennsylvania, then it will be heard in one of three federal districts; they are known as the Central, Middle, and Eastern Districts. The case will be assigned to the court nearest to the location of the alleged crime or an activity that allows the Court's jurisdiction.
Cases can be appealed by either side to the court of appeals. Cases arising in Pennsylvania District Court can be appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The only remaining higher court is the United States Supreme Court, which chooses the cases that they will hear. An experienced attorney can help you understand the best path in your criminal case.
How Hiring an Experienced Attorney Can Help
Make sure that you have an experienced lawyer on your side if you are facing criminal prosecution. If you are charged with a crime, it is important to understand the charges and evidence against you. This information will help you figure out what defenses are available to you. It is also important to know if a trial is the best option or if it is better to work out a deal with the prosecution. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you with this process.
If you want to make a deal, then your attorney can help you resolve the case with the prosecutor and judge. This would likely require you to plead guilty or no contest to a certain charge in exchange for a reduced sentence or other benefits. Make sure that you understand the ramifications of any proposed resolution before you make any decisions. If you have legal questions, then contact us at The Lento Law Firm!
Why Hiring Lento Law is the Right Choice
If you are being investigated or prosecuted federally for interstate 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 Lento Law is the right choice to help defend your federal case.