Domestic Violence Laws in Alabama
Domestic violence laws in Alabama prohibit certain acts of physical violence between an aggressor and a victim, including a parent and child, husband and wife, and couples in a dating or engagement relationship. The crime of domestic violence can carry serious penalties. In order to be found guilty of a domestic violence offense, a defendant must commit a specified violent act and the defendant and victim must share a certain relationship.
Alabama law recognizes three degrees of domestic violence, as well as the felony of domestic violence by strangulation or suffocation. In order for the prosecutor to charge domestic violence in the first, second, or third degree, the alleged aggressor and victim must be in one of the following relationships: current or former spouses, parent and child, parent or parents of a child, current or former household members, and couples who are or were in a dating or engagement relationship. Domestic violence by strangulation can occur between people in the relationships explained just above. However, if the defendant and victim were dating or were engaged, they must have been in the relationship within ten months of the offense. In addition to the relationships just described, domestic violence by strangulation or suffocation prohibits certain violent acts between a stepchild and stepparent.
Domestic violence in the first degree may be charged when the aggressor commits either first-degree assault or aggravated stalking. A defendant convicted of domestic violence in the first degree is guilty of a Class A felony, which carries a maximum of life or 99 years in prison. Defendants who have prior convictions for first-degree domestic violence must serve a minimum of one year in prison for subsequent first-degree domestic violence convictions before being released on probation or parole, or receiving a reduction in prison time for good behavior.
Domestic violence in the second degree can occur when the aggressor commits second-degree assault, stalking (not aggravated), intimidates a witness, commits first- or second-degree burglary, or commits first-degree criminal mischief. Second degree domestic violence is a Class B felony, carrying up to 20 years in prison. For second and subsequent convictions for second-degree domestic violence, the defendant must serve at least six months in custody before being released on probation or parole, or receiving credit for good behavior.
Domestic violence by strangulation or suffocation occurs when an aggressor, by strangulation or suffocation (or attempting to strangle or suffocate) commits an assault with the intent to cause physical harm; or commits the crime of menacing. This crime is a Class B felony and careis the same punishment as second degree domestic violence.
Domestic violence in the third degree occurs where the defendant commits the crimes of third-degree assault, menacing, reckless endangerment, criminal coercion, harassment, criminal surveillance, harassing communications, third-degree criminal trespass, second- or third-degree criminal mischief, or third-degree arson. Domestic violence in the third degree is a class A misdemeanor, which carries up to a year in jail. For second and subsequent convictions for third-degree domestic violence, a defendant must serve a minimum of ten days in jail. According to the law, if you’re convicted three times for third-degree domestic violence, the misdemeanor charge turns into a felony.