The prevalence of domestic violence in relationships is an unfortunate reality. According to data collected by the National Domestic Violence Hotline, more than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the US will experience rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner. Domestic violence incidents occur far too frequently and abuse can happen to anyone at any time. Because of this, it is important to know the laws for criminal offenders and the legal rights as a victim. Here are five things to know about domestic violence laws in the United States: 

1. A victim of domestic violence has the right to information about the conviction, sentencing, imprisonment, and release of the offender.

If you or someone you love has been a victim of domestic violence, it is important to know your rights through the process of your case. Experiencing domestic violence can create lasting trauma and leave victims feeling helpless and vulnerable. Knowing your rights can help you understand what laws protect you as a victim of domestic violence. 

2. The Lautenberg Amendment prohibits domestic violence misdemeanor offenders from purchasing or owning firearms. 

Under the Gun Control Act, it is a federal crime to possess firearms or ammunition after being convicted of a qualifying misdemeanor of domestic violence. The bill prohibits anyone convicted of a felony from the possession of firearms and recognizes that “anyone who attempts or threatens violence against a loved one has demonstrated that he or she poses an unacceptable risk.”

3. 16 states have laws which require the relinquishment of firearms and ammunition if an offender is convicted of a domestic violence crime.

While domestic violence offenders are prohibited from the possession of firearms by federal law, these laws are not fully enforced. Furthermore, limitations in federal laws have allowed state laws to be enacted for more comprehensive gun control restrictions. According to data on the relinquishment of guns collected by Twyford Law Office, only 16 states have additional gun control laws restricting those convicted of a domestic violence offense.

4. Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), it is a federal crime to cross state lines or enter or leave Indian country and physically injure an “intimate partner.”

It is important to know that all federal domestic violence crimes are felonies and should be handled as such. The VAWA protects victims of domestic violence or threatened domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, dating violence, or an “affiliated individual” of a victim. The legal assistance program created under the VAWA provides support to victims and offers a range of cost-effective responses to domestic violence cases. 

5. A qualifying misdemeanor includes the conviction of a crime committed by an intimate partner, parent or guardian of the victim that used or attempted use of physical force or the threatened use of a deadly weapon.

Federal law states that qualifying domestic violence offenses include “all misdemeanors that involve the use or attempted use of physical force (e.g., simple assault, assault and battery), if the offense is committed by one of the defined parties.” In most cases, a qualifying domestic violence misdemeanor crime will be subject to litigation.


If you or a loved one has suffered from a domestic violence case, Twyford Law Office in Spokane specializes in family law cases and can provide expert legal assistance. With the help from a lawyer skilled in domestic violence cases, victims can have support from a legal professional and have greater confidence that their case will be handled carefully and quickly.