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Seminole & Largo Injury Lawyers > Blog > Domestic Violence > Federal Domestic Violence Laws

Federal Domestic Violence Laws


Acts of domestic violence are unlawful under both state and federal law. While many aspects of domestic violence-related laws in Florida and at the federal level are similar, there are also a number of differences. A thorough understanding of both state and federal law could play a critical role in the outcome of a domestic violence case, so if you were recently accused of committing an act of domestic violence in Florida, you should speak with an experienced Seminole domestic violence lawyer who can help you begin building a defense.

Definition of Domestic Violence Under Federal Law

Under federal law, domestic violence is defined as the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against a person by:

  • A current or former spouse;
  • A person with whom the victim shares a child;
  • Someone who is cohabiting or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse; or
  • A person protected by the state’s domestic violence laws.

It’s important to note that physical force in domestic violence cases has been clarified to include either direct or indirect force, which includes offensive touching.

Who Can be Charged with Domestic Violence Under Federal Law?

Even if a specific act satisfies the definition of domestic violence under federal law, a person can only be charged in federal court if he or she:

  • Traveled across state lines with the intent of injuring or harassing a spouse or immediate partner and then intentionally committed a crime of violence, in which the victim sustained a bodily injury; or
  • Forced a spouse or intimate partner to cross state lines by coercion, fraud, or duress and in the course of that conduct, intentionally committed a crime of violence, causing bodily injury to the victim.

If you have been accused of committing an act of domestic violence and were then charged in federal court, please contact our legal team today to learn more about defending yourself against the allegations.

What are the Penalties for a Domestic Violence Conviction Under Federal Law?

Defendants who are convicted of domestic violence under federal law face severe penalties, including imprisonment for up to five years. If, however, the victim suffered a serious bodily injury or the accused used a dangerous weapon during the offense, a defendant could be sentenced to up to ten years in prison. In the event that a person suffers a permanently disfiguring injury, the penalty could be increased to 20 years.

Restraining Orders

Federal domestic violence law requires all states to enforce domestic violence restraining orders and injunctions regardless of where they were initially issued if:

  • They meet the federal definition of domestic violence; and
  • The respondent was given notice and an opportunity to be heard.

In fact, the mandatory injunction forms used by Florida courts were specifically drafted in such a way that they automatically qualify under the federal statute and so are enforceable in other jurisdictions.

Contact Our Seminole Office Today

To speak with an experienced Seminole domestic violence lawyer about your own federal charges, please call The Reep Law Firm at 727-330-6502. You can also reach a member of our legal team by sending a message to justin@reeplawfirm.com.


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