We tend to think that acts of violence are committed by strangers, but many involve people who know each other intimately through a family or personal relationship. In Alabama, domestic violence laws apply to current or former spouses, housemates or dating partners, as well as parents and children or co-parents. Domestic violence includes physical or sexual assault as well as stalking, threats, emotional or psychological abuse, intimidation and destruction of personal property. No one should live in fear that they might be harmed by someone they know. However, the volatile, emotional nature of these incidents often makes it difficult to ensure that the legal rights of the two parties in the dispute are protected.
Domestic violence charges fall into the following categories:
- First degree, Class A felony for first-degree assault
- Second degree, Class B felony for second-degree assault
- Strangulation or suffocation, Class B felony for assault with an intent to harm
- Third degree, Class A misdemeanor for third-degree assault, reckless endangerment, coercion or harassment
Penalties for a domestic violence conviction can include jail time, fines, community service, loss of child custody and the right to possess a firearm. Jail sentences are mandatory following a subsequent domestic violence conviction and stricter penalties may be imposed if there was an order of protection in place when the action occurred or a weapon was used.
Alabama law enforcement officers can make a domestic violence arrest if they judge that there is probable cause, but they may not take both sides of the story into account before doing so. If you are arrested for domestic violence, contact McPhillips, Shinbaum as soon as possible. We provide aggressive representation for all our clients to make sure they avoid false accusations and get a fair hearing in court.