Being charged with domestic violence can turn your life upside down. Your friends may come to distrust you, your reputation could be torn to shreds, and you may end up serving time in jail before you are even convicted of the crime. With felony charges it can be even worse, as a conviction means you lose the right to vote, own a firearm, or travel abroad.
But you may be wondering, why is your charge a federal crime? Since when has domestic violence been a federal offense?
Misdemeanor vs Felony
In California, domestic violence can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. What you get charged with depends heavily on the alleged facts of the case. It isn’t just a state matter, however. The United States has several laws that help determine if a person accused of domestic violence is facing a felony charge. Breaking any of these laws makes the issue a federal case, which in turn makes the charge a felony.
For example, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which was passed in order to try to curb the rates of domestic violence in the USA, sets down regulations that, if broken, will make a domestic violence case into a felony. These regulations include:
- Crossing state or reservation (in the case of Native Americans) lines in order to hurt an intimate partner
- Crossing state lines in order to stalk or harass
- Crossing state lines in order to violate a Protection Order
Domestic violence will also become a federal issue if you violate the Gun Control Act. This means that you were found to have:
- Used or possessed a firearm or ammo while violating a Protection Order
- Used or possessed a firearm or ammo while committing misdemeanor domestic violence
The Gun Control Act can be broken even if you did not use the firearm to cause bodily harm, or even if you were simply in possession of ammo with no firearm to speak of.
Penalties for Felony Charges
The penalties for a felony charge of domestic violence can be harsh. If the court charges you with felony domestic violence, you may find yourself facing:
- Up to four years in federal prison;
- Heavy fines of upwards of $2,000; and/or
- Restitutions to alleged victims
These penalties can be extended depending on the circumstances of the case. If you have been convicted of domestic violence in the past, your sentence will likely be lengthened. If you caused “great bodily injury” to the alleged victims, then your sentence may be extended by up to five more years.
On top of that, many federal domestic violence cases will involve multiple crimes and convictions. You are likely to face a heavier penalty if you are also being charged with battery or sexual battery, for example.
Domestic Violence Charges and COVID-19
There are concerns that rates of domestic violence will rise given the current COVID-19 pandemic and Stay At Home orders. Because the home is the most dangerous place for victims of domestic violence to be, the courts in California are taking a vested interest in keeping those accused of domestic violence in jail.
Currently, most judges are releasing those arrested on “own recognizance,” meaning that the court trusts the arrestee to appear at all court proceedings without the incentive of bail. This is being done in order to avoid overcrowding prisons and limit the potential spread of COVID-19 among inmates. However, charges of domestic violence are not being given the same treatment, and you could still be facing a $50,000 bail.
Thankfully, we at Balboa Bail Bonds are experienced in getting high bails paid quickly and efficiently for clients in San Diego County and the surrounding area, allowing you to get out of jail and somewhere safe and hygienic. If you have been arrested for domestic violence, call us at (619) 760-2222. Our experienced San Diego bail bond agents are available 24/7, 365 days a year. We’re here, waiting to help.