What are the penalties for domestic violence?

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

A domestic violence conviction can have major consequences. If you are convicted of a domestic violence crime, you face substantial fines, restrictions on firearm possession and a potentially lengthy prison sentence.

There are also many non-legal penalties. Being branded a domestic abuser can damage your career, causing you to lose a job if you work in certain industries, such as with children.

Additionally, a domestic violence conviction or even an allegation that you committed domestic violence could jeopardize your custodial rights if you have children. Sadly, sometimes one parent accuses another of domestic violence to gain an advantage in custody court.

These are all reasons you must act quickly and put on a vigorous defense if you are accused of domestic violence.

Definition of domestic violence

Alabama law defines domestic violence as an act of physical violence or a threat of physical violence. There must be a certain relationship between the alleged abuser and victim, such as spouses, a parent and child or people who share an intimate relationship.

To be found guilty of a domestic violence offense, the prosecution must prove that you and the alleged victim share one of these qualifying relationships and that you committed the act of physical violence or made a threat.

The penalties for domestic violence in Alabama depend on the degree of the domestic violence charge.

There are three degrees of domestic violence crimes and a crime for domestic violence by strangulation or suffocation. All are felonies except third-degree domestic violence.

The specific domestic violence crime you are charged with depends on the underlying crime. For example, first-degree assault, first-degree burglary or aggravated stalking result in a first-degree domestic violence.

First and second-degree domestic violence crimes are felonies. A first-degree conviction carries a penalty of up to life in prison and a maximum $60,000 fine. You are required to serve one year in prison if you have any prior first-degree domestic violence convictions.

A second-degree conviction carries penalties of between two to 20 years in prison and up to a $30,000 fine. You must serve at least six months in custody for any prior second-degree convictions.

A third-degree domestic violence charge is a misdemeanor. However, you could still receive up to one year in jail and a $6,000 fine.

Domestic violence by strangulation or suffocation occurs when the offender commits an assault with the intent to cause physical harm.

Additional factors that could enhance penalties

Other factors that are considered include any prior acts of domestic violence, if you violated any domestic violence orders in the past or if the domestic violence was committed in the presence of a child.

In addition to any other penalties imposed, a domestic violence order requires you to refrain from having any contact with the alleged victim.

There are several defenses that may be available to you if you are charged with a domestic violence crime, such as self-defense. A thorough investigation is necessary to determine if any defenses are available.