GADSDEN & ETOWAH COUNTY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE DEFENSE LAWYERS
Accusations of domestic violence crimes and offenses are a life-altering experience that can quickly escalate without the advice and input of an experienced attorney. Through their experience, Dani Bone & Sam Bone have the insight, knowledge, and commitment essential to successfully defend domestic violence claims.
Dani Bone & Sam Bone are domestic violence defense attorneys located in Gadsden, Alabama with experience assisting individuals who are facing charges of domestic violence or other forms of domestic abuse and assisting clients who themselves are the victims of domestic violence. Dani V. Bone & Sam D. Bone will fight to protect your rights through our extensive knowledge of domestic violence law in Alabama.
An accusation of domestic violence or abuse can have a lasting impact on the lives of those involved. You may be falsely accused, and a domestic abuse charge can quickly snowball without the help of an experienced domestic abuse lawyer. It is imperative that you retain a domestic violence defense attorney who has the skills to refute your charges and keep you out of jail.
CALL TODAY FOR A FREE CONSULTATION 256-547-1005
DO YOU LOSE YOUR GUN RIGHTS IF YOU ARE FOUND GUILTY OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE (3RD) IN THE THIRD DEGREE IN ALABAMA?
Yes. Alabama enacted a law in 2015 to prohibit possession of a firearm by individuals who have been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence offenses or other specified violent offenses (including stalking, child abuse, and domestic violence crimes), and by individuals subject to a valid protection order for domestic abuse.
The term “misdemeanor offense of domestic violence” as used in this section means a misdemeanor offense that has, as its elements, the use or attempted use of physical force or the threatened use of a dangerous instrument or deadly weapon, and the victim is a current or former spouse, parent, child, person with whom the defendant has a child in common, or a present or former household member.
WHAT IS THE PUNISHMENT FOR BEING FOUND GUILTY FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE (3RD) IN THE THIRD DEGREE IN ALABAMA?
Even though Domestic Violence can be a misdemeanor, this does not mean it's not serious. A Domestic Violence charge can carry mandatory jail time, probation, the loss of your gun rights, and be a black mark on your record.
A Domestic Violence charge involving hitting the victim or violating a protection order can also mean being held without bond for 24 hours.
Domestic Violence in the Third Degree is usually a misdemeanor and carries up to a year in jail. If it's a second or after conviction for Domestic Violence Third, there is a mandatory 10 days in jail. If it's a third or after conviction, it's a Class C felony and can carry up to 10 years in prison.
Domestic Violence in the Third Degree can also carry a mandatory 30 day sentence if there was a Domestic Violence protection order in place and it was violated by committing a new Domestic Violence Third offense.
WHAT IS THE LEGAL DEFINITION OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN ALABAMA?
Alabama defines domestic violence to include criminal offenses that occur where: “thevictim is a current or former spouse, parent, child, any person with whom the defendant has a child in common, a present or former household member, or a person who has or had a dating or engagement relationship with the defendant”
Incidents resulting in the abuse, assault, harassment, or the attempt or threats thereof, between family, household, or dating and engagement relationship members will constitute grounds for a domestic violence arrest.
Of course, there are many other crimes that may not be directly called a domestic violence crime, but which, involve domestic violence. These can be serious crimes such as murder, rape and other sexual offenses and other diverse crimes such as stalking and violation of a protection from abuse orders.
WHAT IS THE STATE OF ALABAMA'S POSITION ABOUT PROSECUTING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CHARGES?
The state of Alabama takes the issue of domestic violence very seriously. Individuals faced with domestic violence crimes are often vigorously prosecuted. The approach anindividual prosecutor will take will depend upon not only the nature of the crime charged but also the criminal record of the accused person as well as other factors such as the prosecutor's personal view and, even personality.
WHAT IS A NO DROP POLICY in alabama?
While different prosecuting agencies may have varying policies, most have a “no drop” policy meaning they will not simply dismiss a domestic violence case based upon a request of the victim or without a very strong reason to do so.
WHY ARE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES SO AGGRESSIVELY PROSECUTED in alabama?
There are a variety of reasons that these cases are strongly pursued by prosecutors. One reason is the recognition of “battered woman's syndrome” or “battered person's syndrome” where the victim of abuse feels helpless and often believes they are to blame for the crimes accused against them rather than their abuser. Prosecutors wish to break the cycle of violence that occurs in these situations.
Of course, simply because someone is accused of domestic violence does not mean thathe or she is guilty. Unfortunately, some individuals have learned they can “work the system” and will file false charges for a variety of reasons such as revenge orretribution.
Even in true instances of domestic violence, not every victim suffers from battered woman syndrome or battered person syndrome.
If you have been accused of domestic violence, expect your case to be vigorously prosecuted. Obtain the best representation possible.
Under Alabama law, if the police are called on a domestic violence matter, must someone be arrested?
It is not mandatory for an officer to arrest someone when they are called out on a domestic violence case but, this is frequently the end result. A law enforcement officermay arrest a person without a warrant, at any day or any time when an offense involves domestic violence and the arrest is based on probable cause. The officer is free to arrest for either a misdemeanor or felony domestic violence offense.
WHAT IF THERE ARE TWO DIFFERENT OPPOSING STORIES WHEN THE POLICE OFFICER ARRIVES IN A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CALL in alabama?
If a police officer receives a complaint of domestic violence from two or more opposing people and both of them had injuries, the officer will evaluate each complaint person separately to try to determine who the predominant aggressor was.
Typically, the officer will consider a number of factors to determine who the predominant aggressor was. These factors can include prior complaints of domestic violence, the severity of the injuries of each person the likelihood of future injury toeither person or whether or not someone acted in self-defense.
Typically under the circumstances at least one party will be arrested and depending on the officer's discretion, both parties may be arrested.
WHAT IF THE ALLEGATIONS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE in alabama AGAINST ME ARE FALSE?
For anyone to be found guilty of a domestic violence crime the prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt that the person committed the crimes they are accused of. If the evidence does not meet the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt the persons entitled to a judgment of acquittal.
In a perfect world no innocent person would ever be convicted of a crime, however, our world is far from perfect and instances of false allegations it will be up to your attorney to establish either that the evidence is not sufficient, false or not to be believed.
Different lawyers have different approaches and the strategy your lawyer uses will depend on the specific facts and other variables pertaining to your case. In some instances, your lawyer might choose to present, prior to trial the evidence that you are wrongly accused. In some circumstances, your lawyer may wish to wait and reveal this information during the course of your trial. Every case is different and different approaches may be used depending on the circumstances.
IF I AM GUILTY OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS THERE ANYTHING A LAWYER CAN DO TO HELP ME in alabama?
It is sometimes easier to avoid a conviction for a person who is actually guilty of domestic violence than one who is not.
You may want to read that sentence again…. Yes, it is sometimes easier to avoid a conviction for a person who is guilty of domestic violence than for a person who is not guilty.
While this may sound like something out of Alice in Wonderland there is logic to it. This is because, with the existence of many pre-trial counseling programs, it is often easier (and safer) for an accused person to avoid a conviction by attending a counseling program instead of having a trial. While the results of the trial are never certain, the successful completion of a domestic violence program will result in the dismissal of the criminal charges.
In almost all instances a person who has negotiated for their charges to be diverted into a domestic violence program can avoid a conviction if they successfully complete their program and are not arrested for any other charges.
Because the outcome of a trial is uncertain, many people charged with domestic violence are offered an opportunity to avoid a conviction by attending counseling andchoose to do so.
WHAT IS A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ORDER (OR PROTECTION FROM ABUSE ACT) VIOLATION CASE in alabama?
There are a variety circumstances under Alabama law where a judge may issue some form of domestic violence order typically restraining an individual from contact another individual listed in the order. Violation of any form of domestic violence order is a crime and may result in criminal proceedings.
HOW IS A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASE PROSECUTED in alabama?
As in any criminal case, the burden of going forward is on the prosecution. The accused person has nothing to prove and has no burden of proof. The state must establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, each and every element of the crime the person is accused of. If the state fails to meet its burden, the accused person is entitled to be found not guilty.
CAN A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASE GO FORWARD IF THE VICTIM IS NOT PRESENT in alabama?
A domestic violence case can be prosecuted without the victim if there is sufficient evidence to do so. The most serious type of domestic violence might involve the murder of a person's spouse or lover. Obviously, the murder victim cannot testify at trial but, as long as the prosecution has sufficient evidence, the case will go forward.
Of course in some instances, the critical evidence is the testimony of the victim in a domestic violence case. In that type of case, with the victim refuses to testify or fails to show up for court it is quite possible the charges could eventually be dismissed.
IF THE VICTIM DOES NOT COME TO COURT ON A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASE, WILL THEY GET IN TROUBLE in alabama?
In most instances, the prosecutor will have a subpoena issued for the complaining witness (or victim); a subpoena means the person is obligated to come to court under penalty of law. Thus, a person who fails to comply with a subpoena may face legal consequences. An aggressive prosecutor may ask that the witness be physically brought to court. There are other remedies the prosecution may seek to compel a witness'scompliance.
CAN I ASSERT SELF-DEFENSE IN A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASE in alabama?
Yes, if the facts support this claim, this is a perfectly valid defense. You may speak with your lawyer as to how appropriate a self-defense claim may be in your case.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE TYPES OF CRIMINAL CHARGES AND PUNISHMENTS THAT FALL UNDER ALABAMA DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAWS in alabama?
For the charge of Domestic Violence First-Degree the underlying charges could include:
1. Assault, First Degree pursuant to section 13A- 6- 20, Code of Alabama.
2. Aggravated Stalking pursuant to section 13A- 6-91, Code of Alabama.
Domestic violence in the first degree is a class a felony with a minimum sentence of one year without consideration of probation, parole or good-time credits, or any other reduction in time. The maximum sentence for a class a felony is up to 99 years or life in prison.
Typical charges for Domestic Violence in the Second Degree include:
1. Assault in the Second Degree under Section 13A-6-21.
2. Intimidating a Witness pursuant to Section 13A-10-123.
3. Stalking pursuant to Section 13A-6-90.
4. Burglary first and second degrees pursuant to Sections 13A – 7 – 6 and 13A -7-7, Code of Alabama.
5. The crime of criminal mischief in the first degree pursuant to section 13A–7-21 of the code of Alabama.
Domestic violence in the second degree is a class B felony, however; there is a minimum term of imprisonment of six months without consideration of probation,parole or goodtime or any other reduction in time. The maximum sentence for a class B felony is up to 20 years in prison.
Typical charges for Domestic Violence in the Third Degree include:
1. Assault in the third degree pursuant to 13A-6-22, Code of Alabama.
2. Menacing pursuant to13A-6-23, Code of Alabama.
3. Reckless endangerment pursuant to13A-6-24, Code of Alabama.
4. Criminal coercion pursuant to13A-6-25, Code of Alabama.
5. The crime of harassment pursuant to subsection an of section13A-11-8, Code of Alabama.
6. The crime of criminal surveillance pursuant to13A-11-32, Code of Alabama.
7. The crime of harassing communications pursuant to subsection B of section13A-11-8, Code of Alabama.
8. The crime of criminal trespass in the third-degree pursuant to13A-7-4, Code of Alabama.
9. The crimes of criminal mischief in the second and third degrees pursuant to sections13A-7-22 and 13A-6-23, Code of Alabama.
10. The crime of arson of the third degree pursuant to section13A-7-43, Code of Alabama.
Normally conviction for these crimes are misdemeanors with a maximum sentence of one year in jail under state law, however; a second conviction carries with it a minimum of 10 days in jail and third conviction is treated as a felony with a punishment range of the year the day 10 years in prison.
Can I (the Victim) Drop Domestic Violence Charges in Alabama?
Let's consider a fairly common domestic violence situation: your spouse has seriously injured you by punching or kicking or choking, and either you or someone you know (family, friends, neighbors, etc.) has contacted the police. The police arrive and issue a domestic violence charge against your spouse.
The situation is chaotic. You're scared about what might happen. You don't want to be abused, but you also don't want to see your spouse get into legal trouble. Many battered spouses feel the same need to protect their abuser. You may be wondering whether you, the victim, can drop the charges.
The answer is generally, no. Once the police or the State Prosecutor's Office has issued a charge of domestic violence, the victim has no authority to drop the charges. But why not? Domestic violence is a crime. The process behind criminal charges is frequently misunderstood. Most people believe that victims of crime issue the charges. This is wrong. Crimes are governed by the State, and it's the State that issues criminal charges--not the victim.
In other words, since you didn't issue the charge, you cannot drop the charge. Therefore it's the State (and in particular, the Prosecutor's Office) who will decide whether to move forward with the case or drop the charges. Keep in mind that even though you aren't the one to bring the criminal charges, you'll have an important role to play as the proceedings advance.
The Victim's Role in the Case
Victims have many roles to play as a domestic violence case moves forward. For example, if there's a trial, then you'll probably be required to testify in court against your abuser, but keep in mind that in some states, such as California, you can refuse to testify, though you might have to pay a fine or be charged with a crime. You may also be required to appear in court for some other purpose, or to retrieve documents or evidence for the court. Victims are often brought in to explain their opinions, too. If the judge is making a decision on whether to release the abuser, you may be invited to speak about whether you agree with the release decision and why.
Be aware that, as a victim, your role doesn't have to be passive. In other words, your role doesn't have to be limited to testifying in the criminal case, or being invited by the court to speak about your opinions, or retrieving documents or evidence. It's fully within your rights to bring your own civil suit. Bringing a civil suit means that, as a victim, you can sue your abuser for money to pay for your personal injuries, wage losses, psychological injuries, and even for cost of living.
You have protection options as well. You can try to get a protection from abuse against your abuser. PFAs can help provide for your safety, especially since some restraining orders will force your abuser to give up his or her guns for the duration. Also, depending on your state, you may be given the option to break your current lease early. If you are afraid of your abuser being released and hurting you again, you should look into this option so that you can find a place to live separately.
Differences Between Criminal Cases and Civil Suits
If you are a victim of domestic violence, you may be wondering whether you want to file a civil suit against your abuser, even if there's a criminal charge already filed. Remember, crimes are offenses against the State (only the State can issue a charge or drop the charge), and civil offenses are offenses against victims (you can choose to sue or not).
There are benefits to filing a civil suit. In addition to helping to obtain money to pay for your injuries, loss of wages, and any other costs related to the abuse, a civil suit is generally easier to win than a criminal case. In a criminal case, the abuser has to be proved guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt." The "reasonable doubt" standard is usually considered about 99 percent. That means the State would have to prove that there is a 99 percent chance that your abuser committed the domestic violence acts. In a civil case, however, the standard is "preponderance of the evidence," which is usually considered a 51 percent standard. That means in a civil case you would have to prove only that it is more likely than not that your abuser committed the domestic violence acts.
Recanting Your Statement
Even though victims of domestic violence cannot drop the criminal charges, victims frequently want to recant their statements to police and investigators (80-90 percent of domestic violence victims recant). Recanting is taking back your original statement. For example, you may have told police that your spouse was beating you, but later want to recant that statement.
It's generally not a good idea to recant unless you have actually lied to authorities. Recanting won't necessarily force the State to drop the case, since the state can still prosecute the case using police reports, photographs, and other evidence. Also, if you recant, you could face criminal charges for falsifying information to law enforcement authorities and the court.
The process following a domestic violence situation can be confusing and emotionally challenging. Please contact a local domestic violence attorney to help guide you as the process moves forward.
Questions About a Domestic Violence Restraining Order? Get a Free Case Review
Dropping a domestic violence restraining order isn't as easy as it is portrayed on popular television shows and movies. The courts take these types of cases very seriously, especially when there are children involved. Indeed, the best interests of the child are of paramount importance. If you want to know more about dropping a domestic violence restraining order, you can by getting a free initial case evaluation by a skilled Gadsden criminal defense attorney.