While domestic violence in Nebraska is generally classified as a state offense with accompanying state penalties, it would be designated a federal crime if the person charged takes the alleged victim across state lines. State penalties vary from federal sanctions; a seasoned criminal defense attorney can help clients understand the different penalties that they could face.
The Violence Against Women Act, passed in 1994, and the addendum to the Act, passed in 1996, put a federal focus on the crime of domestic violence. In addition, Congress made it a federal crime for some convicted offenders to possess a gun in order to help protect alleged victims.
However, when someone allegedly commits a federal crime in violation of VAWA, the victim can contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Federal crimes include crossing state lines to hurt an intimate partner, to stalk an intimate or to violate an order of protection. An intimate partner includes a spouse, former spouse, former cohabiting partner or a person who has a child in common with the alleged offender. The penalty for a conviction for any of these crimes could range from five years to life in prison, depending on the severity of the offense. The court will also direct the defendant to pay restitution for medical bills, psychological bills, transportation, child-care costs, time off work, lawyer’s fees, physical therapy and all related costs.
Federal domestic violence crimes vary greatly in severity and in how they are prosecuted. A criminal defense lawyer might negotiate a plea agreement for a client in order to reduce the penalties and possible prison time the defendant faces. The attorney might include additional mitigating factors as they argue for a lesser sentence.
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, “Federal Domestic Violence Laws,” 2014
Source: Nebraska Domestic Violence Sexual Assault Coalition, “Chapter 2 Crimes“, September 26, 2014