Alabama Domestic Violence Attorneys
Most believe that a domestic violence situation will never happen to them. You may say that you or a loved one would never lose their temper or that your relationship is above those actions. But arguments between family members and spouses can become emotional.
When issues of money, fidelity, or children take center stage, it can become difficult to keep your emotions in check. As these arguments go from bad to worse, you or the other person might make a split-second decision, and things can become violent.
Maybe one of you said something that sounded like a threat. This could lead the other to make an accusation of domestic abuse. If you have been arrested for domestic violence or are the victim of someone becoming violent or abusive, the criminal defense and family law attorneys at Smith & McGhee, PC, can help protect your rights.
Domestic Violence Laws in Alabama
Domestic violence charges in Alabama are typically misdemeanors, but that doesn’t make them any less serious. The courts in this state take domestic violence seriously, and a conviction can have lasting consequences for the accused. If there are serious injuries or aggravating factors, the court has the discretion to elevate any charges to felony status, which will carry stiffer penalties.
The state divides domestic violence charges into three categories, depending on the severity of the alleged acts:
- Third Degree Domestic Violence. This is the most common type of domestic violence charge in Alabama. It is a Class A misdemeanor offense defined by the Code of Alabama 13A-6-22. These charges could apply if a person intends to cause physical injury to another person and then causes harm. It can include assault, reckless endangerment, third-degree criminal mischief, and third-degree arson. If convicted, the penalty is up to a year in jail.
- Second Degree Domestic Violence. This is a Class B felony offense as defined by the Code of Alabama §13A-6-21. Offenses include stalking (not aggravated), first or second-degree burglary, second-degree assault, and first-degree criminal mischief. If convicted, the penalty is a minimum of six months in jail and up to 20 years in prison.
- First Degree Domestic Violence. This is a Class A felony and is the most serious of the state’s domestic violence charges. It is defined by the Code of Alabama §13A-6-20. Offenses include aggravated stalking, first-degree assault, kidnapping, and arson. If convicted, the penalty is a minimum of one year in jail without the possibility of probation and up to life in prison.
A domestic violence charge occurs when the accused allegedly commits an assault on a protected class of people under Alabama’s domestic violence law. These include a current or former spouse, children, parents, any person with whom the accused has a child in common, a person with a current or former dating relationship to the accused, or a present or former member of the defendant’s household.
Defending Against a Domestic Violence Charge
Just because you have been accused of or charged with a domestic violence offense, that does not necessarily mean that you are guilty. Some people are wrongly accused of actions for a variety of reasons. The outcome of one of these cases can significantly impact the reputation and future of the accused. Fortunately, there are several potential defenses for someone who feels that they are being falsely accused.
- Wrong suspect. If the defendant can prove that they were somewhere else or with someone else at the time of the alleged abuse, this would be a valid defense.
- Self-defense. A defendant might claim that they were acting in self-defense in response to the violent acts of the other party. They may also say that they were trying to protect someone else, such as minor children.
- Deliberate false allegations. In some cases, one party may make false accusations against another out of anger or spite. Often, stories don’t ring true or are full of inconsistencies.
- Lack of proof. A prosecutor must meet a burden of proof in each case. If there is no proof of the abuse, the charges could be dropped.
- Consent. While rare, some individuals consent to being physically harmed while engaged in certain acts. If this is the case, claiming abuse would be unfair.
For Victims of Domestic Violence
If you are the victim of domestic violence or abuse, your testimony may be needed for the case, but you also have other remedies. You have the right to ask the court for a domestic violence order, which is a type of protective order.
Domestic violence orders require that the alleged aggressor keep a certain physical distance from you as well as refrain from any further communication. If a person violated a protective order, they could be found guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, which has penalties of a minimum 30-day jail sentence. Subsequent convictions will have enhanced penalties.
Domestic Violence and Family Law Cases
When you already have a family law case, such as a divorce proceeding or child custody dispute, domestic violence charges are going to complicate these matters even further. While it is vital that families and children remain safe from violent behavior, it’s not uncommon for false accusations to be made by one spouse against another to gain the upper hand during a contentious case.
Our Alabama domestic violence attorneys have represented the rights of many clients in situations where abuse has occurred, as well as in situations where false allegations have been made. No matter what your current circumstances, we can assist in achieving the best possible outcome in your case.
Speak With a Qualified Dothan Domestic Violence Lawyer
When relationships or family conflicts reach a point where emotions take over and violence occurs, law enforcement will often become involved. If you are the victim of domestic violence or abuse, you have the right to press criminal charges. Our lawyers can help protect your rights and safety, with a restraining order and other actions, if you feel unsafe.
If you’ve been charged with domestic assault in Alabama, the stakes are high. A conviction can not only impact your relationships, but also other aspects of your life. You may have trouble securing a job, getting a loan, and could be barred from owning a firearm if you are convicted. For these reasons and more, it is vital that you speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
The dedicated and aggressive attorneys at Smith & McGhee, PC, have experience handling domestic violence cases in Alabama from many angles. Contact our Dothan office now at 334-708-3158 or reach us online to schedule a consultation.
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