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Why Murder and Manslaughter Aren't Considered Crimes of Domestic Violence

Posted by William Bly | Jun 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

Some criminal charges can become allegations of domestic violence if they are done to certain groups of people, like spouses, children, partners, exes, and roommates. Not all offenses, though, will be considered as domestic violence just because they are done to the latter. Offenses like manslaughter or murder are not forms of domestic violence even when the victim qualifies.

Some people are surprised by this aspect of Maine's domestic violence law. In their eyes, murder and manslaughter are the most severe crimes on the books and can be committed against family members, so there is no reason why they shouldn't lead to domestic violence charges.

Here's why the law has it right.

What a Domestic Violence Charge Adds to the Criminal Process

When an underlying criminal offense like assault is committed against a family or household member, it becomes domestic violence assault. The difference is significant for a lot of reasons:

  • Prior convictions for domestic violence can elevate the potential penalties differently than if it was a standard assault charge;
  • A conviction for the charge will include more extensive probation and a rehabilitative course;
  • No contact and restraining orders will likely be filed; and
  • A conviction leads to a federal prohibition from owning or using firearms.

The Goal of These Additional Consequences: Protect the Victim

In theory, at least, everything in criminal law has a purpose.

When it comes to domestic violence law, some of the additional penalties and consequences that are on the table for a conviction are designed to provide additional protection for the victim. Stripping someone of the right to bear arms is not just an arbitrary decision to inflict as much pain and punishment as possible – it's designed to protect the victim of the domestic violence by making it illegal for their abuser to carry a weapon that could quickly and irreparably change his or her life for the worse.

After a Fatality, the Goal Disappears

Family or household members who have been the victims of murder or manslaughter or any other criminal offense that involves a fatality do not need to be protected from further domestic violence because they are now deceased.

The overarching goal of the additional penalties levied against people convicted of a crime of domestic violence are no longer relevant. Forcing someone to go to a mandatory rehabilitation class no longer protects someone else from further violence.

Without a reason to levy these penalties against someone convicted of murdering or unintentionally killing a family or household member, the additional penalties no longer make sense. Not only do they not make sense, but they are also irrelevant because the penalties for crimes like murder or manslaughter either include some of the same domestic violence penalties or are more significant than them.

Domestic Violence Defense in Maine at WTB Law

The criminal defense team at WTB Law strives to represent people who have been accused of domestic violence in the state of Maine. These allegations are serious and require defense tactics that are both strong and tactful to preserve your future and your freedom.

If you have been accused of a crime of domestic violence and want legal representation, call us at (207) 571-8146 or contact us online.

About the Author

William Bly

William T. Bly, Esq. is a graduate of Rutgers College where he majored in Political Science with a minor in U.S. History. Attorney Bly attended and graduated the University of Maine School of Law. During his time in law school, Attorney Bly focused on criminal defense.

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