News and sports television, radio, and other media have been buzzing in recent days about what seems like an epidemic of domestic violence that is suddenly coming to the public’s attention. This is largely due to several high-profile professional athletes being accused of abuse of their spouses or children. We have even seen repercussions of this locally as a prominent member of Montgomery, Alabama’s legal community has recently been arrested and charged with an incident of domestic violence; as of this writing, calls for his resignation from his position are increasing.
What does Alabama’s law say about what constitutes “domestic violence” and what can result from a conviction for this offense?
“Domestic Violence” is a criminal offense like assault, harassment, burglary, and others in which the accused and the victim share a familial or dating relationship, live together, or have a child together. If a case carries a “Domestic Violence” designation, there will usually be special conditions added to any pretrial release (bond) in the case, and upon a conviction there will be additional punishments such as the loss of the right to possess a firearm. Worse, there is a social stigma attached to these kind of charges that can follow a person forever.
Often when Domestic Violence is alleged, there will be special programs available to the accused that allow dismissal of the charges upon completion of court-mandated counseling. If a dismissal is obtained, in most cases the person can then apply to have their arrest record expunged. As with all criminal charges, it is critically important to contact a qualified lawyer who is familiar with handling cases involving domestic violence. The earlier a lawyer becomes involved in the matter, the more good he or she can do to help.