Escape This Site Now

 

Domestic Violence Laws

 

In Alabama, an abuser does not have the legal right to beat his/her partner. Domestic Violence relationships are defined as such When the victim is:

  • A spouse
  • A former spouse
  • A parent
  • A child
  • A person with whom the victim has a child in common
  • A present or former household member
  • A person who has or had a dating or engagement relationship
Usually, this type of abuse is considered either Domestic Violence 3rd degree (Class A Misdemeanor), Domestic Violence 2nd Degree (Class B Felony), or Domestic Violence 1st degree (Class A Felony).

A) Domestic Violence 3rd Degree:

  1. When a person commits the crime of:
    1. Assault 3rd Degree
    2. Menacing
    3. Reckless endangerment
    4. Criminal coercion
    5. Harassment
  2. This requires that this person must serve a minimum of 48 hours of imprisonment on the second or subsequent conviction.
  3. This sentence is doubled if there is also a violation of a Protection Order.


B) Domestic Violence 2nd Degree:

  1. When a person commits the crime of Assault 2nd degree.
  2. This requires that this person must serve a minimum of 6 months of imprisonment on the second or subsequent conviction.
  3. This sentence is doubled if there is also a violation of a Protection Order.


C) Domestic Violence 1st Degree:

  1. When a person commits the crime of Assault 1st degree.
  2. This requires that this person must serve a minimum of 1 year of imprisonment on the second or subsequent conviction.
  3. This sentence is doubled if there is also a violation of a Protection Order.


D. Any warrant less arrest shall include a charge of a crime of Domestic Violence under this act.


E. In a complaint from 2 or more opposing persons the officer shall evaluate each compliant separately to determine who was the primary aggressor.

In determining the primary aggressor the officer shall consider:

  1. Prior complaints of domestic violence.
  2. The relative severity of the injuries inflicted on each person.
  3. The likelihood of future injury to each person.
  4. Did one of the persons act in self-defense.


F. The officer shall not threaten, suggest or otherwise indicate the possible arrest of all parties to discourage the request for intervention.


G. The officer shall not base the decision to or not to arrest on:

  1. The specific consent or request of the victim.
  2. The officer’s perception of the willingness of a victim or witness to the crime to testify or otherwise participate in the judicial proceedings.


H. An officer may arrest a person without a warrant, on any day at any time in any of the following instances:

  1. The offense has been committed or a breach of peace threatened in the presence of an officer.
  2. A felony committed by the person arrested, not in the presence of the officer.
  3. A felony committed and the officer has reasonable cause to believe the person arrested committed the felony.
  4. The officer has reasonable cause to believe the person arrested has committed a felony. (Although it may afterwards appear that a felony had not in fact been committed.)
  5. A charge has been made upon reasonable cause that the person arrested has committed a felony.
  6. The officer has actual knowledge that a warrant, felony or misdemeanor has been issued in accordance with this law.
    1. Upon request the officer must show the warrant to the arrested person as soon as possible.
    2. If the officer does not have the warrant in his/her possession at the time of arrest the officer shall inform the arrested person of the offense charged and of the fact that a warrant has been issued.
  7. The officer has reasonable cause to believe that a felony or misdemeanor has been committed by the person arrested in violation of a Protection Order.
  8. The offense involves domestic violence as defined by the law and the arrest is based on probable cause, regardless of whether the offense is a felony or misdemeanor.


I. When an officer investigates an allegation of domestic violence, whether or not an arrest is made, the officer shall make a written report of the alleged incident, Including a statement of the complaint, and the disposition of the case.

If police are not called, victims of domestic violence can still initiate criminal charges.

A victim of domestic violence should contact the police.

Even if the police are not called or do not make an arrest on the scene, the victim can initiate criminal charges by going to the city or county courthouse (depending on where the victim lives) and swearing out a complaint before the court, a warrant officer, or a clerk– magistrate. The warrant will then be turned over to a police officer or the sheriff who will then arrest the abuse. It could be hours, days or weeks, however, before the arrest is accomplished and the victim should plan to take action which will keep him/her safe during this time.

Sometimes warrant clerks, magistrates or warrant officers will refuse to issue a warrant. In these cases, an attorney or an advocate from The House of Ruth may be able to assist the victim in obtaining a warrant.

Whether arrest results from police action or from a warrant requested by the victim, it is only a first step and only temporary relief and protection for the victim. In nearly all circumstances, the abuser will be released after serving the appropriate time. For this reason, a victim should take immediate steps which will get her/him and any children to a safe place with essential papers and items. The House of Ruth can help you make plans to escape and can offer shelter and support during this difficult time.

Once a victim or the police file criminal charges, the district attorney for the county or the city prosecutor for the city will prosecute the case at no cost to the victim. A victim does not need to hire a private attorney to file or prosecute criminal actions. However, the victim must cooperate with law enforcement agencies and the prosecutor in their efforts to obtain a successful outcome for the case. Most of the time, the victim will have to testify in court. Without the full cooperation of the victim, the law enforcement system has little chance of correcting the abuser’s behavior.

Within a matter of days or weeks following the arrest, the abuser will have an opportunity to plead “guilty” or “not guilty” to the charges against him/her. If the abuser pleads “guilty,” the judge will sentence him/her to a penalty for his/her actions. If the abuser pleads “not guilty,” a trial will take place. If the charge is a misdemeanor, the trial will be heard before the judge only. If the charge is a felony, the trial will be heard before a judge and a jury, unless the abuser requests a judge only. If the abuser is convicted, the judge can order that the abuser pay money to the victim for financial losses occurring as a result of the crime (restitution); can require that the abuser go to counseling; and can issue a protection or restraining order to stop the abuser from coming in contact with you or others. In addition, the judge can order jail time, a fine, community service or other punishment for the abuser’s actions.

Victims who cooperate with prosecution and who suffer financial losses which are not covered by other sources may be eligible for compensation from the Alabama Crime Victim’s Compensation Commission at 1-800-542-9388. An advocate from the House of Ruth can help victims file for Alabama Crime Victim’s Compensation.

Victims of domestic violence may also need counseling, support and, sometimes, temporary shelter at a private location. The House of Ruth offers these services and are available to all domestic violence victims in the eight county service area.





Leave this site now