What is the Violence Against Women Act?
New Mexico Attorneys Explain the VAWA
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was passed in 1996. This program prevents violence against women, and was what implemented the national domestic violence hotline service. Also, new protections were created for victims, such as confidentiality, change of address confidentiality, changes to immigration laws, etc.
The Key Provisions of the Act
The Act has several provisions, but the most notable include:
- The federal government will fully fund rape kits and all legal/courtroom fees associated with filing and enforcing a protection order.
- The victim will receive a protection order that is recognized and enforced in all of the states – not just where it was filed. It also applies to all territorial jurisdictions and tribal regions in the United States.
- The funding of the domestic violence crime units in local communities.
- Ability for tribal courts to try non-Indian spouses or partners of their tribe with domestic violence offenses.
- Undocumented immigrants who are the victim of domestic violence can apply for a green card in exchange for helping law enforcement prosecute the abuser.
- Special training for law enforcement officers so that they can adequately handle sex offenses and domestic violence cases.
How It Applies to Domestic Violence Offenders
This Act carries grave consequences for those who are arrested for domestic violence. The Act states that the crime is a misdemeanor, but it addresses several key areas that can easily enhance a person’s charge if there are violations of the Act. These include:
- Interstate Traveling – The Act specifically states that interstate travel for the purpose of committing domestic violence or violating a protection order is prohibited. This means that a convicted domestic violence abuser cannot legally follow the victim to another state. Also, it ensures that a protection order issued in one state will be applicable in another state.
- Influencing the State – The Act also influences state legislators to create harsher penalties for those convicted of domestic violence. Also, arresting policies are harsher – all it takes is a complaint for the police to arrest someone for alleged domestic violence.
The Act was renewed in 2013 and is still active nationwide. Therefore, if you are arrested for domestic violence, provisions within this Act could escalate your charges. In some cases, you could be convicted of a federal crime – especially if you were to travel across state lines to harass or attack someone with a protection order.
Speak with an Attorney Immediately
If you have been arrested for domestic violence, whether it was in the state of New Mexico or for traveling to New Mexico to commit a violent act, you need a criminal defense team. Contact the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices today for a free consultation. We are here to aggressively protect your rights and ensure that this Act does not encourage lawmakers to hand out harsher penalties. We may also be able to help you qualify for an early intervention program or create a defense strategy that puts the odds in your favor. Schedule your consultation appointment now by calling 505-375-4672 or requesting more information online.