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Supreme Court rules on definition of domestic violence

Domestic violence is a term used to describe abuse or battery of another family member. The exact legal definition of the term has been questioned in numerous court battles across the U.S., leading judges to examine the meaning of the word. Different interpretations of the term ‘domestic violence’ have led to various outcomes in court.

One such case was taken to the Supreme Court due to a discrepancy in the meaning of domestic violence between state and federal governments. The case resulted in Supreme Court Justices broadening the definition of domestic violence to include minor acts of violence, including slapping, biting, shoving and hair pulling. According to the justices, any use of physical force may constitute domestic violence.

The case involved a man from Tennessee who challenged his indictment under the federal gun law, saying that his case was not technically considered domestic violence under the legal definition. Although he was convicted of a crime, the state law did not recognize his crime as domestic violence.
According to the federal gun law, those convicted of committing domestic violence are restricted from owning a firearm. The justices ruled that his case was in fact, considered domestic violence under the new broader definition of the term.

Those who face domestic violence charges may face other implications later on in life if convicted. A domestic violence conviction may lead to the inability to carry a firearm, find employment in certain industries and obtain a professional license. The legal counsel of a qualified attorney may be helpful in organizing a successful defense case.


Source: New York Times, “Sweeping Ruling on Domestic Violence,” Adam Liptak, Mar. 26, 2014

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