Legal Definition for Domestic Violence in Alabama
Alabama, as with most other states, takes domestic violence very seriously and punishes it accordingly. According to the Alabama State Legislature, “a person commits the crime of domestic violence if the victim is a current or former spouse, parent, step-parent, child, step-child, any person with whom the defendant has a child in common, a present household member, or a person who has or had a dating relationship with the defendant.”
Typical instances of domestic abuse can come in the forms of abuse, harassment, assault, or threats of the previously mentioned. It’s important to note that more severe crimes like rape, murder, and other sexual offenses can also be considered in the domestic violence category, depending on the relationship with the victim.
Stalking or violating a protection order are other forms of domestic abuse, all of which the state of Alabama takes seriously.
Three Main Levels of Domestic Violence In Alabama
There are three main categories for domestic violence in the state of Alabama. They are first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree domestic violence. Additionally, felony charges may be incurred under specific circumstances.
First-degree charges for domestic violence are the most serious of the three categories. Penalties can include up to 99 years or life in prison. Some examples of first-degree charges are aggravated stalking, causing harm by use of a deadly weapon, intent to cause severe injuries, and assault in the first degree.
According to Alabama Judicial Code 1975 13A-6-91, “a person commits the crime of aggravated stalking in the first degree if he/she intentionally and repeatedly follows or harasses another person and makes a threat, either expressed or implied, with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily harm…”
Second-Degree Domestic Violence Charges
For charges of second-degree domestic violence, the punishment can include up to twenty years in prison if you have no prior convictions. For repeat offenders, the penalties can become much more severe. Second-degree domestic violence can result in a Class B felony.
Some examples of second-degree charges are;
Intimidating a witness
Stalking (if aggravated, this charge would be first-degree)
Criminal mischief in the first-degree
Committing a crime of assault in the second degree
Burglary in the second or third degree
Committing the crime of assault in the second degree requires the prosecution to prove that the offender had intent to cause serious physical harm or did cause serious harm while using a deadly weapon or otherwise dangerous instrument. The defendant may also have recklessly caused serious bodily injury. Intent to cause physical harm to a healthcare worker, teacher, employee of public education, and more may all be included.
Third-Degree Domestic Violence Charges
If you are facing third-degree domestic violence charges, you may be penalized with up to one year in jail for your first offense and more if you have prior similar convictions. Third-degree domestic violence charges typically equate to a Class A misdemeanor.
Examples of third-degree charges are assault in the third degree, the crime of harassing communications, criminal trespass, arson in the third degree, criminal surveillance, criminal coercion, and reckless endangerment.
It’s important to note that if an offender has two prior convictions and is charged with a third in this category, the charges could be elevated to a felony level, making them eligible for up to ten years in prison.
Strangulation of Suffocation
Aside from the above charges and examples, Alabama looks at strangulation and suffocation in a separate category. Since the year of 2019, strangulation and suffocation have become a Class B felony and can result in a punishment of two to twenty years in prison. Additionally, the offender may be penalized with a fine of up to $30,000.
Strangulation is intentionally causing asphyxia by closure or compression, and strangulation is asphyxia caused by depriving a person of air or preventing them from breathing.
Punishments for Violating Protection Orders
Protection orders may be put in place for those who fear impending assault or otherwise harmful domestic violence situations. They are legal documents that set forth specific expectations and conditions that one party must follow to remain compliant.
Violating a protection order is serious and can result in a class A misdemeanor. A second violation could result in 30 days in jail or more with little option to be suspended. Third or subsequent violations could lead to 120 days imprisonment with very little hope for suspension as well as costs associated with their incarceration.
Serious Charges Require a Serious Defense
Any domestic violence charges are to be taken seriously. That being said, you may have the option to attend a domestic violence program to reduce or eliminate the charges against you. Barring any other charges, we will tirelessly fight to allow that opportunity if counseling is an option rather than a conviction.
Each charge and situation is different, so don’t get caught up worrying that your situation is dire. Let us work with you to determine what your options are and put together a realistic strategy that may offer you lower charges or the dismissal of them.
Having been in practice since 2011, our defense counsel in Birmingham for criminal charges is ready and capable of helping you navigate domestic violence charges. Contact our office today at (205) 881-5641 to schedule your consultation and learn more about the ways in which we can help you. Don’t let one moment define your future; call us today.