What Is Federal Interstate Domestic Violence?
The crime of Interstate Domestic Violence applies when a defendant crosses state lines or is within the “special maritime and territorial jurisdiction” of the US, with the intent to “kill, injure, harass, or intimidate a spouse, intimate partner, or dating partner,” and when the defendant “commits or attempts to commit a crime of violence” against that victim. This crime also applies when the defendant forces the victim to cross state lines “by force, coercion, duress, or fraud,” and as part of the forced travel, “commits or attempts to commit a crime of violence” against the victim.
(The “special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States” covers a large number of locations, including Indian reservations, federally-governed waterways and vessels sailing on or flying over them; any US fort, dockyard, or other “needful building”; places outside the US where the victim is a US citizen; and on foreign vessels during any trip where the vessel stops in the US and where the victim is a US citizen.)
What Are the Potential Penalties for Federal Interstate Domestic Violence Charges?
Penalties for a conviction under the Interstate Domestic Violence statute can be severe: up to life in prison if the victim dies as a result of the offense, up to 20 years if the victim is permanently disfigured or suffers a life-threatening bodily injury, up to 10 years if the victim suffers serious bodily injury or the defendant uses a dangerous weapon to commit the offense, and up to 5 years otherwise.
In addition, the defendant will be required to pay the victim for the victim's monetary losses, including the victim's medical expenses, lost income, attorney's fees, and other expenses related to the crime.
What Are Some Examples of Defenses to Federal Interstate Domestic Violence?
If you are charged with Interstate Domestic Violence, the prosecutor needs to prove that at the time you crossed a state line or entered the special maritime jurisdiction, you had the intent to commit or try to commit an act of violence against a spouse, former spouse, or someone with whom you are or were in an intimate relationship. One defense to this charge may be that you did not have that intent when you crossed the state line; for example, if you were traveling for another reason when you entered the state where the prosecutor claims you committed the crime. In some circumstances, another defense may be that you and the victim were not “intimate partners,” which has a specific definition under federal law. A third potential defense is that there was no bodily injury to the victim or that no act of violence or attempted violence was committed.
If the charge is that you forced the victim to cross a state line and committed or attempted to commit an act of violence against the victim, one defense may be that the victim consented to the travel and was not forced or coerced. A second potential defense is that the victim was not injured or that you did not attempt to injure the victim.
As with any other criminal case, the prosecutor will be required to meet certain Constitutional and statutory standards when introducing evidence and other testimony against you, and your attorney can object to any evidence that does not meet those standards.
In What Court Will Your Case Be Heard?
If you are charged with violation of the federal Interstate Domestic Violence statute in New Jersey, your case will be tried in a federal court located in the state. There are three federal courthouses in New Jersey, one each in Camden, Newark, and Trenton. If you lose your case at the district court level, you can file an appeal, which is heard by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals located in Philadelphia. Appeals from this court can be heard by the Supreme Court of the United States; however, the Supreme Court only hears a particular criminal appeal if it chooses to do so.
How Hiring an Attorney With Experience Can Help
If you have been charged with any federal crime, including Interstate Domestic Violence, hiring an experienced attorney can help you understand the charges against you as well as the entire prosecution process. Federal courts operate under a specific set of rules and regulations that can be confusing and overwhelming to the average person, and there are many opportunities for someone who lacks experience to make serious mistakes that can harm their case.
An experienced attorney will help you navigate those issues and can also negotiate on your behalf with the prosecutor in an attempt to resolve the matter without going to trial. Contact the Lento Law Firm to find out more about how we can help.
You Need a Strong Advocate to Help You Defend Against Interstate Domestic Violence Charges
If you have been charged with violating the federal Interstate Domestic Violence law, you need a strong and effective attorney to help you with your defense. At the minimum, a conviction means a 5-year prison sentence, and at its worst, you could be facing 20 years or more behind bars. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has the experience and dedication you need to provide you with the best defense possible to these charges. He and his team at the Lento Law Firm know how to mount an aggressive, effective defense to federal Interstate Domestic Violence charges. Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or use our contact form today. You do not want to face these charges alone, and with the Lento Law Firm on your side, you won't have to.