Most people would naturally assume that domestic violence crimes are state crimes. Surprising to some, though, domestic violence is not in itself a New Jersey state crime. Instead, New Jersey's Prevention of Domestic Violence Act enhances penalties for nineteen other crimes, including assault, sexual assault, murder, kidnapping, false imprisonment, robbery, stalking, and terroristic threats, when the defendant commits one or more of those crimes against a person with whom the defendant has or had a qualifying domestic relationship like marriage, cohabitation, or a child together. Federal law, though, defines certain specific federal domestic violence crimes. Federal prosecutors may charge you in New Jersey with federal domestic violence crimes in cases the FBI has investigated, or local prosecutors refer to the federal attorneys. Federal domestic violence charges are a real and substantial risk for anyone involved in a domestic violence matter in New Jersey. If you face federal domestic violence charges or investigation by federal officials relating to domestic violence, retain New Jersey federal criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm defense team for aggressive, effective, and winning defense services.
Federal Domestic Violence Crimes
All federal domestic violence crimes are felonies, increasing the stakes and risks associated with federal domestic violence charges. Federal domestic violence crimes fall under two main federal acts. Congress enacted the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994, recognizing that domestic violence has national impacts. The federal Violence Against Women Act further recognized that federal law enforcement resources could help overburdened state and local criminal justice officials. The Violence Against Women Act makes it a federal crime to cross state lines to physically injure an intimate partner, stalk or harass, or violate a qualifying protection order. Crossing state lines is thus the key element for turning a state domestic violence enhancement into a federal domestic violence crime. Federal law generally recognizes a spouse or former spouse, cohabitant or former cohabitant, or person sharing a child in common with the victim as an intimate partner. If the defendant suffers a VAWA conviction, the court must order restitution of the full amount of any loss, including costs of medical or psychological care, physical therapy, transportation, temporary housing, childcare expenses, loss of income, and costs and attorney's fees incurred in obtaining a protective order.
Federal Domestic Violence Gun Crimes
Congress also enacted 1994 and 1996 changes to the federal Gun Control Act, making domestic violence involving gun possession a federal crime in certain situations. The federal Gun Control Act makes it a federal crime to possess a firearm or ammunition while subject to a qualifying protection order or after conviction for a qualifying misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. Generally, a domestic violence misdemeanor qualifies for a Gun Control Act charge if an intimate partner, parent, or guardian of the victim committed the misdemeanor while using or attempting to use physical force or threatening use of a deadly weapon. The court may order restitution for a violation.
State Versus Federal Domestic Violence Charges
Chances are that your first notice of potential domestic violence charges will be through local police investigation and action. When domestic violence victims need police assistance, they typically call 911 and receive a response from local authorities, not federal authorities. Local police may remove the alleged perpetrator, investigate, and turn the file over to local prosecutors for review. If those prosecutors find a stronger basis for a federal charge under VAWA or the Gun Control Act, or if federal prosecution of federal domestic violence crimes will relieve overburdened local prosecutors, local prosecutors may refer the case to federal law enforcement officials for investigation and prosecution of federal criminal charges. Although constitutional rights protect against double jeopardy for the same crime, federal and state officials may each charge the same person with domestic violence crimes, federal officials the federal crime and state officials the state crime, without violating constitutional rights.
Fighting Federal Domestic Violence Charges
You have several actions you can and should take if you face or expect to face federal domestic violence charges. First, retain premier federal criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm for your aggressive and effective defense of New Jersey District federal domestic violence charges. Get the skilled and experienced federal criminal defense attorney and team that you need for a winning defense of federal domestic violence charges. Next, avoid speaking to or communicating with anyone about the domestic violence matter until you have retained and consulted with your federal criminal defense attorney. You have the right to remain silent. Your Miranda rights inform you that law enforcement officials can and will use against you anything that you tell them. Invoke your right to remain silent. Don't speak to police or investigators, or even to family members and acquaintances, unless and until your federal criminal defense attorney advises that you should do so. Instead, rely on your criminal defense attorney to invoke your constitutional rights, holding federal prosecutors to their burden to prove each element of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt, while challenging inadmissible evidence gained through the violation of your Fourth Amendment rights. Don't assume that a federal charge means a sure conviction.
Federal Criminal Defense Attorney for the New Jersey District
Federal criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento is available for defense of federal domestic violence charges in the New Jersey federal district. Federal criminal charges of any kind, and especially domestic violence charges, can carry serious penalties and long-lasting collateral consequences. Your freedom, reputation, relationships, employment, and other interests are worth fighting for against false, exaggerated, or unsupported federal domestic violence charges. Attorney Lento has the premier skills, substantial experience, and aggressive attitude you need for a winning defense of serious federal criminal charges. Call 888-535-3686 for a consultation now or use the online service.