People who are facing domestic violence usually think that state courts will handle their charges, but this isn’t always the case. It’s possible that the federal court will handle some domestic violence charges. The Violence Against Women Act enables federal laws to step in to help local and state systems when they’re overburdened.
There are times when domestic violence clearly falls under federal jurisdiction. This includes when state lines are crossed. It may also apply when a firearm is used during the commission of an act of domestic violence. The Gun Control Act covers situations that involve firearms during the commission of domestic violence.
Definition of an intimate partner
Charges that are heard under federal laws only apply to intimate partners. Federal law defines an intimate partner as someone who meets one of these:
- Current cohabitation partner
- Former cohabitation partner
- Current spouse
- Former spouse
- Share a child with each other
These charges have very serious penalties attached to them. It’s possible to face imprisonment of five years to life for violations of the VAWA. The severity of the injuries to the victim plays a role in the sentence that’s handed down in these cases if the person is convicted of the charge.
Anyone who’s facing domestic violence charges of any sort should ensure they explore the options they have for dealing with them. Going over the defense options you have early in the case may help you to decide how to proceed with your defense strategy. Working with someone who can help you evaluate those options and determine how they may impact your future will be useful.