Birmingham Domestic Violence Charge Expectations
In Alabama, domestic violence can either be a felony or a misdemeanor. Depending on what that underlying criminal offense is will dictate whether it is a felony domestic violence or misdemeanor domestic violence. The relationship with the alleged victim is what deems the charge to have that added tag of domestic violence.
Getting arrested for domestic violence can result in serious penalties such as jail time. Birmingham domestic violence charge expectations should vary depending on the situation. To learn more about domestic violence charges, contact an experienced lawyer in Birmingham.
Different Charges of Domestic Violence
Felony domestic violence includes things such as assault in the first degree and aggravated stalking. Second-degree domestic violence as a felony can be assault, intimidating a witness, stalking, burglary, or criminal mischief. Offenses that would constitute misdemeanor domestic violence are menacing, reckless endangerment, criminal coercion, criminal surveillance, harassment communications, and criminal trespass in the third degree or criminal mischief in the third degree. The nature of the relationship must be a former or current spouse, a parent, a child, any person that the defendant had a child in common with, a present or former household member, or a person that the defendant has had a dating relationship with.
Being Accused of Domestic Violence
If someone is accused of domestic violence, whether it is a felony or misdemeanor will depend on what happens in court. The charge makes a major difference in the defendant’s expectations of a domestic violence charge in Birmingham. If it is a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, the person will go to either a municipal court or a district court. At that level of court, the person has the right to a trial. On a misdemeanor domestic violence, it would only be in front of a judge. However, if the person does not like the outcome in either the municipal or district court, they could file an appeal, start their case over in the circuit court, and then have a jury hear the case.
Usually on misdemeanor domestic violence cases, if there is no prior history, a defendant can have their case resolved with a plea agreement wherein the case would be dismissed or possibly reduced to a non-domestic violence charge. Even a misdemeanor domestic violence is a very serious offense. The range of penalty includes a fine in the municipal court of up to $500, but if it is a state prosecution, the fine can go up to $6,000.
The jail sentence ranges from zero days up to one year, and a second conviction for misdemeanor domestic violence includes a minimum term of 10 days in jail. Any third or subsequent conviction for misdemeanor domestic violence makes it a Class C felony. In terms of a misdemeanor, somebody charged could expect to face those ranges of penalties and take that path through the court system.
In Alabama, the court systems for felony charges begin in the district court. In district court on a felony, a person has no right to a trial. They have a right to negotiate the case with the district attorney’s office and they have the right to investigate their case. A person can demand a preliminary hearing in district court. At that level, the state would have to produce a detective or witnesses to establish that there was enough proof for probable cause for the felony warrant to have been issued.
If the judge finds there was probable cause, the case will go to the grand jury and ultimately end up in the circuit court if the grand jury were to return an indictment. In circuit court on a felony domestic violence is where someone could have a jury trial or enter plea agreements. Similar to misdemeanor domestic violence cases, many felony domestic violence cases resolve in the district court without going to trial. However, domestic violence can be up to a Class A felony, which means up to a life sentence and a $60,000 fine on a first-degree domestic violence. On a second-degree domestic violence felony, the range of penalties is two to 20 years.
Birmingham domestic violence charge expectations could be more positive after contacting a skilled attorney who has the experience in these types of cases. Call today to get started on your case.