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A domestic violence charge covers much more than the picture many people have of the culmination of a love gone wrong. In Alabama, domestic violence can include any assault, harassment, reckless endangerment, or stalking between two individuals in a familial relationship.

The penalties for a domestic violence charge can be severe. Anyone facing such a charge should seek the help of an experienced attorney who understands the subtle differences in each domestic violence case and how to craft defenses that reflect those differences. A Mountain Brook domestic violence lawyer may be able to provide you with the proper guidance and legal counsel for your case.

Defining Familial Relationships

Assault, stalking, and arson can happen between any two people regardless of their relationship. But, it is only considered domestic violence under certain circumstances. Domestic violence can only happen in a domestic, or familial, relationship.

Some relationships covered are:

  • Current or former household members
  • Parent/child or stepparent/stepchild
  • Any couple with a child together
  • Any couple dating or who dated in the past
  • Anyone married through either common law or legal marriage

Degrees of Domestic Violence

There are three degrees or levels of domestic violence charges in the state of Alabama.

Third-Degree

The least serious degree of domestic violence is third-degree. Someone convicted of third-degree domestic violence faces up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $6,000. Cases tried in municipal court frequently result in much less severe penalties. Some types of third-degree charges include third-degree arson, third-degree assault, criminal coercion, second or third-degree criminal mischief, third-degree criminal trespass, harassment, menacing, and reckless endangerment.

Second-Degree

A person convicted of second-degree domestic violence faces up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $30,000. Some types of second-degree domestic violence are assault, first-degree criminal mischief, second or third-degree burglary, and non-aggravated stalking.

First-Degree

A person convicted of first-degree domestic violence faces up to life in prison and a maximum fine of $60,000. Some examples of first-degree domestic violence are first-degree assault and aggravated stalking.

Implications Involving Child Custody

A domestic violence conviction also greatly weakens a parent’s chances of gaining or maintaining child custody, especially if the person committed domestic violence in the presence of children. In the most severe cases, judges can entirely remove a parent’s right to see their children. Therefore, it is particularly important a person in a custody dispute charged with domestic violence knows what defenses are available.

Speak with a Mountain Brook domestic violence lawyer to learn more.

Possible Defenses in a Mountain Brook Domestic Violence Case

Given the possible sentences, if someone is facing domestic violence charges, it is important for them to know there are ways to defend themselves.

Possible defenses against domestic violence include:

  • The alleged victim was actually the aggressor
  • The person accused of domestic violence acted in self-defense
  • The prosecution failed to prove the offense happened
  • The parties were not in any of the protected familial relationships

It is strongly recommended to consult with a Mountain Brook domestic violence lawyer when planning to pursue a specific defense in domestic violence cases.

A Mountain Brook Domestic Violence Attorney is Available to Help

A domestic violence conviction threatens your freedom, finances, and relationship with your family. This makes it crucial to crafting the strongest defense possible.

The best way to protect your rights could be to work with an attorney who knows what is at stake, could patiently listen to your side of the story, and help relay that to a judge using legal experience and know-how.

If you are facing a domestic violence charge, contact a Mountain Brook domestic violence lawyer today. Call our office to set up a free consultation.