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Is Domestic Violence Ever Charged As A Federal Crime?
In the overwhelming majority of Florida domestic violence cases, any charges are brought at the state level. That said, there are rare cases in which an alleged domestic violence offense can be charged under federal law. If this happens to you, it is crucial that you be aware of the stakes you are now facing. Federal sentences are often more serious than state laws permit, and without experienced legal help, your odds of avoiding conviction are lower than they might be.
Serious At The State Level
Florida domestic violence law encompasses any criminal offense “resulting in physical injury or death” to a family or household member, committed by another family or household member. (A “family or household member” is a spouse, ex-spouse, co-parent, relative by blood or marriage, or anyone who is or was residing with the perpetrator as a family.) Under this law, alleged perpetrators are charged with the underlying state crime, with the domestic violence classification playing a primary role at sentencing.
State domestic violence cases can be quite serious, with some of the possible underlying offenses (such as kidnapping, sexual assault, or false imprisonment, among others) causing significant trauma to the alleged victim. Florida state’s attorneys can and do prosecute these cases aggressively, simply because domestic violence is no longer seen as a ‘private matter;’ rather, it is seen as a crime against society.
Stakes Are Higher In Federal Court
For a domestic violence case to be eligible for trial in federal court, something must have happened in the case to trigger federal jurisdiction – generally, crossing a state line in order to engage in crime. Some of the most common examples include crossing a state line in order to stalk or harass an intimate partner, or doing so to violate a protective order or other injunction.
These actions often violate the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA, though it also protects victims of other genders), and in some cases, the Gun Control Act, if the perpetrator has firearms or ammunition in their possession while violating a protective order. All of these offenses are federal felonies, which means that the sentence if convicted has the potential to be severe. If you find yourself in this position, enlisting legal help is crucial.
Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney
Crimes of domestic violence are seen as serious business under Florida state law, but even more so by federal authorities. If you have been charged with a federal domestic violence crime, a West Palm Beach criminal attorney can help to answer your questions and try to manage your concerns. The firm of Perlet & Shiner, P.A. has experience in these cases and will work hard on yours. Contact our office today to speak to an attorney.