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Domestic violence can be one of the toughest crimes for people to be accused of due to its sometimes violent nature and the fact that it involves someone with whom a relationship exists. With that said, the following are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding these types of charges as answered by an experienced defense attorney.

What is domestic violence in Alabama?

Answer: In Alabama, domestic violence is the commission of various criminal offenses against a person that has a statutorily defined relationship with the accused. Relationships that qualify for prosecution of domestic violence when certain crimes are committed include the victim is a current or former spouse, parent, child, any person with whom the accused has had a child in common, a present or former household member, or a person who has or had a dating or engagement relationship with the accused. Crimes committed on these type of relational victims include assault, stalking, harassment, menacing, burglary, intimidation of a witness, criminal mischief, criminal trespass, criminal coercion, harassing communications, reckless endangerment, criminal surveillance or arson. It is also illegal in Alabama to interfere with someone who is making a 911 call to report domestic violence. A person may be arrested for domestic violence by a police officer even though the police officer did not witness the alleged offense. If the law enforcement receives complaints of domestic violence from two or more people at the same time, the officer must evaluate both sides of the case and determine various factors such as the prominent physical aggressor, who called, injuries to determine who should be arrested. Other things the officer could look at would be prior complaints of domestic violence, the likelihood of further injury and whether one person acted in self-defense. The punishment ranges for domestic violence could either be a misdemeanor or a felony, with some carrying minimum mandatory jail sentences.

What is harassment in Alabama?

Answer: In Alabama, harassment is a crime that occurs when someone with an intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person either strikes, shoves, kicks or otherwise touches that person with physical contact or directs abusive or obscene language or makes an obscene gesture toward that person. However, the threat must be one that causes the other person to fear for his or her own safety. Harassment is a Class C misdemeanor. As well within the harassment statute, there is a crime of harassing communications, which is similar to harassment; however, the harassment occurs by nature of some kind of electronic communication.

How does harassment come into play in an Alabama domestic violence case?

Answer: If harassment is alleged to have occurred against a victim that is a current or former spouse, parent, child, or any person with whom the defendant has a child in common, or is a present or former household member, or a person who has or had a dating or engagement relationship with the defendant, the harassment will be elevated to the charge of domestic violence harassment.

What are the different types of restraining orders that can be awarded under Alabama law?

Answer: In Alabama, there are various types and ways a person may have a restraining order placed upon them. One could be a condition of their bond when they’re released from custody; another could be a condition of a conviction during probation. As well, there is something in Alabama called a Protection From Abuse Order that a circuit court may enter. And then as well within a divorce decree, the court can enter certain types of restraining orders against the parties.

What should a person do if a restraining order has been filed against him or her in Alabama?

Answer: In Alabama, if you find that a restraining order has been filed against you, you should immediately contact a lawyer. As well, you should obey all terms and conditions of the restraining order until you do have time to consult with a lawyer and let the lawyer go to court and try to modify the conditions and litigate the restraining order issues.

What are the penalties for violating a restraining order in Alabama?

Answer: In Alabama, if you violate the terms and conditions of a restraining order, depending on what type of restraining order it is, you could suffer severe consequences. If the restraining order was a condition of your bond, your bond could be revoked and you’d be placed in the custody of the county or state jail, pending disposition of your case. If the restraining order was a condition of probation, the probation could be provoked and you could be ordered to serve the balance of whatever sentence was suspended. In Alabama, there is a separate and independent criminal charge of violation of the domestic violence order, which is a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 365 days in the county jail. A second conviction for a violation of a domestic violence order is punishable by a minimum mandatory 30 days imprisonment, and a third conviction would be a minimum mandatory 120 days.