While the term ‘domestic violence’ is often tossed around casually, it is very frequently misunderstood. To be sure, domestic violence is a broad term that ultimately encompasses a wide array of criminal charges, each of which carries separate requirements and, upon conviction, legal consequences.
Although domestic violence charges may be confusing, they are serious nonetheless. Penalties may range from six months behind bars to life in prison, in addition to significant monetary fines as well. For this reason, if you are facing charges of domestic violence in any form in Alabama, it is imperative that you reach out to a dedicated legal professional for immediate help. Furthermore, it is also in your best interests to learn more about the domestic violence laws in Alabama in order to help prepare a solid defense going forward.
Who Can Be Charged with Domestic Violence in Alabama?
Perhaps the most important factor in domestic violence cases is the relationship shared by the alleged victim and the accused. Specifically, domestic violence charges may only be levied against an individual who has one of the following types of relationship with the alleged victim:
- Spouse (either current or former);
- Someone with whom the accused has a child in common;
- Household member (either current or former); or
- Someone whom the accused currently is or previously had been dating.
The various relationships mentioned above are incredibly important; if you are facing charges of domestic violence in Alabama, yet you don’t believe you shared one of the aforementioned relationships with your accuser, you should get in contact with a skilled attorney today. Your lawyer can bring to light this information as one way to bolster a defense in your case.
Degrees of Domestic Violence in Alabama and Related Penalties
Like many other types of crime in Alabama, domestic violence is rated in degrees of severity. The following describes the degrees of domestic violence crimes, as well as the penalties associated with a conviction:
- Third-degree domestic violence, which occurs when the defendant commits third-degree assault, criminal coercion, harassment, or reckless endangerment, among other crimes, is considered a Class A misdemeanor in Alabama, and is punishable by up to a year in jail. In addition, a second charge of domestic violence requires the defendant to spend a minimum of 10 days behind bars.
- Second-degree domestic violence, which arises when the defendant commits second-degree assault, intimidating a witness, stalking, or second or first-degree burglary, is a Class B felony, which carries a maximum of 20 years in prison.
- First-degree domestic violence is a Class A felony, which carries a sentence of life in prison. First-degree domestic violence occurs when the defendant commits either aggravated stalking or first-degree assault.
In addition to the three charges mentioned above, the state of Alabama also recognizes a third type of domestic violence: domestic violence by strangulation or suffocation. Similar to a second-degree charge of domestic violence, this is also a Class B felony.
Considerations for Those Accused of Domestic Violence
Although charges of domestic violence are incredibly serious, a number of possible defenses exist that may lead to lesser charges or an acquittal altogether. For one, the prosecution must prove that the accused and the alleged victim shared one of the relationships mentioned above; failure to do so disqualifies the charges of domestic violence. In addition, the prosecution must also show that the defendant committed one of the underlying charges related to domestic violence in Alabama. If it can be proven that underlying charges are false, then that is grounds for an acquittal.
Finally, it is also possible to argue self-defense by claiming that the defendant was in fear of their life, and as such, defended themselves with justified force. However, because this is a complex defense to argue, it is best attempted with the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Reach Out to a Skilled Attorney in Mobile for Help
If you are facing charges of domestic violence in Mobile or the surrounding areas, it is in your best interests to reach out to Darley Law, LLC for help today. Our dedicated legal team will provide you with a confidential and discreet consultation during which we can thoroughly review the charges against you and advise you on your best legal options. Call 251-441-7772 to speak to someone over the phone or visit our office today. You may also leave a secure message from our contact page.