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When a person is accused of domestic violence, it can be a confusing and frightening situation. Many people believe that in order to be accused of domestic violence there needs to be an assault.

In reality, domestic violence is a category of crimes where the identity of the accuser is the determining factor, not the underlying behavior. It is true that assault is a possible underlying accusation. However, robbery, stalking, and criminal mischief are also possible foundational crimes.

Vestavia Hills domestic violence lawyers work with clients who have been accused of both domestic violence and the underlying charges to protect their liberty with a vigorous and nuanced defense. To begin building a defense, an individual should contact a Vestavia Hills criminal lawyer as soon as possible.

Understanding Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is defined in Alabama Code 13A-6-139.1 as a list of otherwise criminal acts including:

  • Arson
  • Assault
  • Criminal Trespass
  • Menacing

All of these actions are listed as separate violations under other sections of the Alabama Criminal Code. What makes these acts domestic violence crimes is their being committed against a person who is either:

  • Married to the defendant
  • Was formerly married to the defendant
  • Has a child in common with the defendant
  • Has a dating relationship with the defendant
  • Is a current, or former, household member
  • Is a relative of a current or former household member
  • Is a parent, stepparent, child, or stepchild who has ever lived with the defendant

Therefore, assaulting one’s spouse is certainly a domestic violence case, but so is robbing a parent’s property, or burning an ex-spouse’s house. To understand such regulations, an individual should contact a Vestavia Hills domestic violence lawyer immediately.

Possible Penalties

There are three classes of domestic violence in Alabama. The class of the charge is tied to the underlying criminal activity. For example, a person commits the crime of Domestic Violence in the First Degree if they commit Assault in the First Degree against an individual who qualifies under the definition above. This is a Class A Felony. Alabama Code 13A-6-130. Second Degree Domestic Violence is a Class B Felony and includes underlying crimes such as burglary, second-degree assault, and criminal mischief. Alabama Code 13A-6-131. Third Degree Domestic Violence includes underlying crimes of harassing communications and menacing. Under Alabama Code 13A-6-132, this is a Class A Misdemeanor.

The penalties for these crimes, if the defendant is found guilty, will be applied in addition to the penalties for the underlying crimes. These penalties are:

  • Class A Felony: Between 10 years to life in jail with a fine of up to $60,000. Alabama Code 13A-5-6, 13A-5-11.
  • Class B Felony: Between two and 20 years in prison with a fine of up to $30,000. Alabama Code 13A-5-6, 13A-5-11.
  • Class A Misdemeanor: Up to one year jail time and a fine of not more than $6,000. Alabama Code 13A-5-7, 13A-5-12.

To defend against any sort of penalty, an individual should not hesitate before consulting with an experienced domestic violence lawyer in Vestavia Hills as soon as possible.

Contact an Attorney

Accusations of domestic violence are taken very seriously by Alabama courts. Even being accused of a domestic violence crime is enough to have a temporary protection order issued against a defendant during an arraignment. On top of this, the order can become permanent during later proceedings.

Vestavia Hills domestic violence lawyers fight against these orders every step of the way. Additionally, attorneys work to defend clients against not only the accusations of domestic violence, but also the underlying charges. Convictions of domestic violence can carry severe penalties ranging from stiff fines to up to life imprisonment.

Further, any conviction remains on a person’s criminal record and restraining orders can become permanent. Do not take any chances with your family and personal freedom, contact a Vestavia Hills domestic violence attorney today.