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Interstate Domestic Violence

Almost all offenses related to assault, battery, or domestic violence fall under state law, with the exception of crimes committed against federal employees and interstate domestic violence, which is prohibited under the federal law known as the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). However, a defendant can only be charged with this crime in federal court, if federal jurisdiction can be established. Having a thorough understanding of the elements of this crime and what constitutes federal jurisdiction is important, especially for those have been accused of domestic violence, so if you have been charged with this offense, please contact a member of our federal crime legal team today for assistance.

Interstate Travel to Commit Domestic Violence

Although the VAWA prohibits a wide range of activities, it was primarily aimed at prosecuting those who used interstate travel to commit domestic violence. For this reason, a person is usually only charged under this statute, if he or she has been accused of traveling between states, with the intent to injure, harass, intimidate, or kill his or her intimate partner. However, before a person can be convicted, prosecutors must also be able to prove that in the course of, or as a result of interstate travel, he or she actually committed or tried to commit a violent crime against the intended target. Furthermore, the alleged victim must qualify as an intimate partner, which only includes:

  • Spouses;
  • Former spouses;
  • Past or present cohabitants; and
  • Parents who share a child.

The law also covers victims deemed to be dating partners, or those who were or had been in a social relationship of a romantic nature with the defendant. When determining whether a person qualifies as a dating partner, courts assess a number of factors, including the length and type of the alleged relationship, as well as the frequency of interaction between the parties.

Besides prohibiting the crossing of state lines with the intent to injure a romantic partner, the VAWA also makes it unlawful to cause a spouse, cohabitant, or dating partner to cross state lines through the use of force, coercion, fraud, or duress in order to commit a crime of violence against that person. In these cases, prosecutors are not required to prove that the defendant intended to cause the other party to travel interstate, although they will need to provide evidence that the travel was nonconsensual.

Penalties for violating the VAWA range in severity and hinge primarily on the extent of the injuries sustained by the victim. However, a defendant could face up to five years imprisonment if convicted of interstate domestic violence, even if the alleged victim wasn’t injured. If an injury did occur, regardless of the severity, the sentence could be increased to ten years.

Call Today to Begin Planning Your Defense Strategy

Please contact dedicated Miami criminal defense attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. Criminal Defense Attorneys at (305) 670-9919 if you have been accused of committing a federal crime. Our legal team has years of experience in federal court and is eager to begin working on your case.

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