Domestic abuse is one of the central challenges faced by the social justice system. Therefore, there is a need for reviewing the most common issues related to it and reacting to the discovered problems by creating laws that would regulate this area of social relations. That is why it is essential to monitor changes in legislation. For this reason, the central objective of the paper at hand is to identify federal and state laws that were adopted as a response to domestic abuse and investigate their influence on the problem under consideration.
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Identifying a Federal Law
One of the central federal laws created to address the problem of domestic violence in the 1994 Violence Against Women Act or simply VAWA. It was adopted in response to ignoring the existence of domestic violence. To prove this statement, it is essential to review the nationwide figures of forcible rate against women. It increased from 36.8 to 41.2% between 1980 and 1990 (Dematteis, 2016).
In fact, this law is a landmark pointing to the recognition of the concept of domestic violence at the legal level and acknowledging that it is a key problem of the society (Agtuca, 2014). The main purpose of this law is to protect women against violent crimes and set the foundation for creating state laws for coping with this problem. The law was reauthorized in 2000, 2005, and 2013 that points that it is constantly reviewed and updated in order to comply with the emerging social issues.
Determining a State Law
As mentioned above, VAWA is the foundation of state laws. However, in some cases, state laws are passed before federal. One of such examples is Domestic Abuse Act of Minnesota. It was adopted long before VAWA – in 1979. Its main purpose was to reform the state legal system and police operations in order to protect women against violence. Special attention was paid to domestic violence cases that were treated in the most scrupulous manner.
This law has been revised and reauthorized almost each year since its adoption in 1979, and the latest reauthorization was in 2016. The specificity of the law is the focus on determining the concept of domestic violence, identifying court jurisdiction and forms necessary for documenting a violence-related case, and determining fees applicable to violent crimes (518B.01 Minnesota Abuse Act, 2016).
Reviewing the Influence of Laws on the Problem of Domestic Violence
The overall influence of VAWA of addressing the problem of domestic violence is positive. It is associated with the decreased rape rate from 41.2% in 1990 to around 18% in 2014. Such a change is impressing. It can be explained by the comprehensiveness of the law and its focus on different aspects of the problem. Therefore, there are such provisions as funding of rape kits and violence combating local communities, special training for reviewing violence-connected cases properly, protection of minorities against domestic violence, and the introduction of victim protection orders.
As for the role of Minnesota Abuse Act, it helped to restructure the systems of social and criminal justice operating in the state and enhance their effectiveness. The main improvement is the increased number of those sentenced due to committing crimes related to domestic violence. This figure has increased from 229 to around 1500 convicted between 2003 and 2013 (Prather, 2015). Such a change points to the effective operation of the law and the whole system that is likely to be of extreme value for coping with the problem of domestic violence in Minnesota because criminals are pointed to the fact that their life choices (acts of domestic violence) are inseparable from bearing responsibility for committing them.
Examples of Cases Related to the Laws
Reviewing cases that fall under the purview of the identified laws is one of the ways to point to their efficiency. For instance, VAWA protects women against different forms of abuse, including verbal. This provision can be proved by pointing to Clagg v. Clagg case that was based on text messages showing no respect to woman’s dignity – accusing of constant lying – and ended with protecting this woman against her husband (Clagg v. Clagg, 2009).
As for Minnesota Abuse Act, it is associated with State v. Ness that is connected to one of the provisions of the law – no contact orders. It points to the challenges in understanding the processes of issuing no contact orders. However, because the Abuse Act identifies these orders as one of the ways to protect a victim of domestic violence, this case can be perceived as one falling under the purview of the selected state law (Servaty, 2014).
To sum up, regardless of some significant challenges in developing and applying legislation in domestic abuse area, there have been impressive changes in protecting women against domestic violence. As for now, there is an operational federal law – VAWA – and numerous state laws, such as Minnesota Abuse Act. Such a combination of legal acts is the effective foundation for coping with the challenge of domestic violence, especially keeping in mind the overall decreased rape rate and increased number of those convicted to responsibility due to their violent acts.
518B.01 Minnesota Abuse Act. (2016). Web.
Agtuca, J. (2014). Safety for Native women: VAWA and American Indian Tribes. Lame Deer, MT: NIWRC.
Clagg v. Clagg, 2009 Ohio 328 (2009).
Dematteis, C. M. (2016). Protecting the freedom for women to be free from violence: The Violence Against Women Act endures. Widener Law Review, 22(2), 267-280.
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Prather, S. (2015). Domestic violence convictions up sharply in Minnesota. Web.
Servaty, A. N. (2014). In the heat of the moment: The implications of State v. Ness on criminal defendants’ tights in Minnesota DANCO Proceedings. Hamline Law Review, 37(2), 453-485.