Our firm has extensive experience in cases dealing with Domestic Violence, Protection from Abuse Petitions, and Restraining Orders.
Domestic Violence crimes are included in Title 13A-6-130 to Title 13A-6-136, Code of Alabama, (1975). In order to prosecute a Domestic Violence Offense there must be a determination that there is family or spousal relationship or that there has been a dating or engagement relationship. Domestic Violence encompasses a number of other offenses including, Harassment, Assault, Menacing, Unlawful Imprisonment, and Reckless Endangerment to name a few. The prosecution of Domestic Violence statutes in Alabama carries enhanced punishment over the prosecution of the same offense in a non-domestic setting. First Degree Assault in a non-domestic violence situation is a Class B felony but as a Domestic Violence Offense it is a Class A felony. Other lesser degrees of Assault are also enhanced due to the identity of the victim and the nature of the relationship between the victim and the alleged perpetrator.
In addition to the normal prosecution, there are Federal restrictions dealing with the possession or ownership of firearms or ammunition after being convicted of a Domestic Violence Offense, even a misdemeanor. This restriction on firearm ownership or possession is a permanent restriction and the violation of the restriction could result in a Federal prosecution with a mandatory prison sentence. There is a mandatory cooling off period of twelve hours upon an arrest for a Domestic Violence Offense. Some courts recognize an exception if the defendant surrenders himself to law enforcement, especially if the defendant is represented by counsel and counsel has a Motion to Reduce and/or Eliminate the Cooling Off Period.
Protection from Abuse Petitions are very powerful tools and a vastly abused procedure in the judicial system. A judge possesses immense power when presented with the proper allegations in a Protection from Abuse Petition. On a ex parte (only one party is heard) basis, Protection from Abuse Petitions can deal with the custody of a child or children, possession of a home, payment of certain household bills, possession of certain pieces of property including automobiles and further can contain provisions enjoining the defendant from contacting the petitioner. A defendant has the right to a speedy hearing upon making a demand for the same with the court handling the Protection from Abuse Petition.
Until recently, Protection from Abuse Petitions were limited in duration to one year. Our Legislature established procedures where a Protection from Abuse Petition can be a permanent restraining order.