The Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women has made major changes to how it defines domestic violence. These changes roll back Obama-era definitions that were expansive and decidedly favored the prosecution. The most notable change was to categorize domestic violence as a felony or misdemeanor criminal act that involves physical assault or sexual violence by an intimate partner or spouse. It may also involve a person living under the same roof or individuals who share children. It can apply to either an adult or a minor.

This eliminates such previous qualifying behaviors as:

  • Dynamics of control or power
  • Actions that are deemed deliberately hurtful
  • Forms of psychological or economic abuse

A law and order solution

This change reflects the Trump Administration’s stance enforcing the law. Analysts point out that it makes sense to recast the issue as a law and order matter to be handled in criminal courts.

What this means for those facing charges

It is understood that the definition is much more narrow, which could greatly increase the potential for a conviction if the charges meet the new definition. It will, however, provide much greater protection of the rights of the accused. Either way, it will be crucial for defendants to get legal guidance to ensure that those new definitions are properly presented and interpreted.

The circumstance of these cases hinge parties that are extremely emotional with actions that remain cloudy or in dispute after the fact. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be an invaluable asset during negotiations with the prosecution or defending their client in open court.