Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu
Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers > Blog > Domestic Violence > Can Domestic Violence Be Charged as a Federal Crime?

Can Domestic Violence Be Charged as a Federal Crime?


Although most crimes involving interpersonal violence fall under state law, there are scenarios where it may be prosecuted as a federal offense. One example is domestic violence. Georgia’s Family Violence Act covers most situations where a person is accused of stalking or physically harming an intimate partner or other family member. But if a person travels across state lines to engage in such conduct–or they rely on any means of interstate communication such as the Internet–they may also run afoul of federal law.

Three Sisters Convicted of Luring Florida Man to Shooting in Alabama

A recent decision from the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal appellate court with jurisdiction over Georgia, illustrates how such laws are applied in practice. This case, United States v. Mapson, involved three sisters–Tierzazh, Charis, and Elisa–charged with interstate domestic violence, interstate stalking, and related offenses arising from the shooting death of a man in Alabama. The victim was the father of Tierzah’s minor child.

According to evidence introduced at trial, shortly after the child’s birth Tierzah got into an argument with the victim and broke off the relationship. Shortly thereafter, Tierzah relocated with the child from Florida, where the father lived, to Oklahoma. The victim then sued for custody rights, which led to a custody agreement between the parties.

The agreement required Tierzah to drive the child from Oklahoma to Florida. One such occasion, the parties agreed to make the hand-off at halfway point in Alabama. The victim waited for several hours at the agreed-upon spot as Tierzah said she was running late. While continuing to wait, the victim was shot several times and taken to a nearby hospital.

The victim survived and traveled to Florida, where he attempted to visit with his son. Tierzah refused to allow unsupervised visitation because she claimed the shooting proved the victim was “involved in gang violence.” A subsequent police investigation, however, uncovered evidence that Tierzah conspired with two of her sisters–one of them a former Marine sharpshooter–to shoot the victim in order to “keep him from unsupervised visits with his daughter.” By “luring” the victim from Florida to Alabama, the government argued that all three sisters conspired to commit interstate stalking and interstate domestic violence.

The jury agreed and found all three defendants guilty. The 11th Circuit upheld the verdicts, rejecting a defense challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence. While acknowledging the “incredible nature of these circumstances,” the appellate court nevertheless said the jury was allowed to exercise “common sense” in finding the defendants carried out a complex scheme to lure the defendant to Alabama to “obstruct” his visitation rights through violence.

Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers Today

One reason that federal prosecutors were able to build a strong case against the three sisters was that they gave false and contradictory statements to the police. This is why you should never speak to law enforcement in connection with any criminal investigation unless you are represented by a qualified Atlanta domestic violence lawyer. Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Georgia including Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs.



Facebook Twitter LinkedIn