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When is domestic violence considered a federal crime?

On Behalf of | Sep 22, 2022 | Domestic Violence

Acts of domestic violence can shatter the lives of Maryland residents. Sometimes, the crime is charged on the federal level. This can have even more frightening ramifications.

Domestic violence as a federal crime

Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994. Along with additions that came in 1996, domestic violence became recognized as a nationwide crime. As a result, it was also expanded to be considered a federal crime.

Although many instances of domestic violence occur on a statewide level, some take place across state lines. For example, a victim leaves their state and relocates to another in order to escape their abuser and the abuser travels to the new state to continue the abuse. This includes not only perpetrating physical violence but stalking, threatening the victim and violating an order of protection.

Domestic violence is also considered a federal offense when the abuser possesses a firearm.

Because of the recognition that domestic violence can occur after interstate traveling, an order of protection is often awarded to the victim. Previously, such an order was not recognized in a different state, but VAWA brought about change so that states recognize those issued elsewhere.

Qualifying domestic violence misdemeanors

A person could face federal domestic violence charges after a qualifying misdemeanor domestic violence conviction or for possessing a firearm. The former could constitute physical force used or threatened or the use of a deadly weapon while committing domestic violence.

Possession of a firearm after violating a protective order or a qualifying misdemeanor domestic violence conviction can result in up to 10 years in prison. A federal domestic violence conviction can result in five years to life in federal prison, plus restitution to the victim.

Domestic violence charges should not be taken lightly. They are serious and can change lives.