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Alabama’s Domestic Violence Diversion Programs: Alternatives to Traditional Criminal Proceedings

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How does Law Commonly define Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence, in Alabama and most states, is simply an assault aimed at any family member, romantically involved partner, or any person living in your home.

This dire criminal charge in Alabama commonly gets you significant jail time, fines, and possibly losing access to your home and family.

What’s vital for you to note is that you never take a domestic violence charge (or even accusation) lightly. Doing so could significantly impact your life and give you a criminal record for life.

All domestic violence charges include some type of abuse, assault, or battery to someone who lives in your home or with whom you have a close personal relationship.

These victims could include:

  • Your spouse or ex-spouse.
  • Your girl/boyfriend or ex-girl/boyfriend.
  • Your parents or children living in your home.
  • Any of your siblings.
  • In-laws who may live in your home, and more.

In Alabama and most states, violence between people with close relationships is always legally managed differently than violence between strangers. This is because domestic violence crimes, charges, and consequences focus on reducing any risk of repeated or future offenses and harm.

Additionally, all domestic violence crimes can be charged as misdemeanor or felony crimes. Accordingly, the penalty for a first-time offense charged as a misdemeanor can significantly differ from the penalty you may suffer if you’ve been accused of a felony.

However, even a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction can result in up to a year of jail in Alabama. Still, with a qualified, professional criminal defense lawyer, you could get probation or qualify for a Domestic Violence Diversion program.

However, repeating offenses or felony domestic violence charges can get you significant prison time (10-20 years) and leave you with a permanent felony record that will alter your future rights and opportunities.

Always note that each domestic violence case and the circumstances and acts involved differ. Still, having an aggressive, knowledgeable domestic violence lawyer fighting for your rights will always help to ensure the best possible outcome.

What Are Examples of Penalties For Domestic Violence in Alabama?

The penalties for domestic violence in Alabama can be life-changing, and any domestic violence charge must be professionally defended immediately.

In Alabama, if you’re convicted of domestic violence, your penalties are based on the “degree” of your crime. All domestic violence cases differ in circumstance and degree. Also, Alabama law considers any prior acts you may have of domestic violence.

State law recognizes three degrees of domestic violence, and additional penalties may be added if you violate a domestic violence protection order or your domestic violence acts include strangulation or suffocation.

  • Penalties for First-Degree Domestic Violence may include – This may be a class A felony, which may carry a life sentence, 10 to 99 years in prison, and up to a $60,000 fine.
  • Penalties for Second-Degree Domestic Violence – Second-degree domestic violence is usually charged if you commit a second-degree assault, stalking, etc. Domestic violence in the second degree may be a class B felony, and you could do two to 20 years in prison and up to a $30,000 fine.
  • Third-degree Domestic violence – If your domestic violence charge includes third-degree assault, menacing, harassment, etc. This may be charged as a class A misdemeanor and could get you one year in jail and a $6,000 fine.

Additionally, it’s widely known that Alabama residents take their 2nd Amendment rights very seriously, so you must understand that if you’re convicted of domestic violence by an Alabama court, it will prohibit you from possibly ever possessing or owning a firearm. The Code of Alabama § 13 A – 11 – 72A (a) states this clearly; “No person who has been convicted in the state or elsewhere of committing or attempting to commit a crime of violence or a misdemeanor offense of domestic violence shall own a firearm or have one in their possession or under their control.”

Every Alabama citizen should understand and be aware of this fact, as the right to own firearms is very dear to Alabama’s citizens and their families.

That said, let’s suppose this is your first offense, and it is in the Third Degree. In that case, your experienced criminal defense lawyer may be able to mitigate your penalties and attempt to qualify you for probation or a Domestic Violence Diversion program.

If you qualify for a domestic violence diversion program, you could avoid harsh penalties, not have a criminal record, and possibly more.

How Does the Alabama Domestic Violence Diversion Program Work?

First, you must note that although Alabama’s domestic violence diversion programs may help you avoid penalties and even jail time, but the details of your crime matter and must allow you to qualify for the program. These programs took years to compile and have been studied in detail (by various groups such as The Battered Women’s Justice Project) to provide the accused and the victim with fair and reasonable justice.

The Alabama state legislature created domestic Diversion Programs, identifying specific crimes and offender characteristics that will allow you (as the defendant) to enter the programs. Commonly, in these “diversion programs,” you would be “diverted” to attend counseling early in the court proceedings. 

Also, under some circumstances, you may not even have to enter a guilty or “no-contest plea” to qualify and attend these programs. Depending on the details of your crime, you may sometimes have to admit guilt. Still, any penalties you may face will be suspended until you complete your domestic violence diversion program.

If your plea isn’t formally entered into the court records and you successfully complete your diversion program, it may be erased altogether.

Domestic violence diversion programs emphasize counseling, treatment, behavior modification, etc., rather than sending you to jail and other punitive measures. However, you will have to attend classes, participate in individual or group therapy or counseling, make restitution to your victim, possibly pay fines, and more.

You will return to court once you complete all aspects of the required program, and your case is usually dismissed. Although your arrest record isn’t commonly sealed, your lawyer can take the additional step of seeking to expunge or seal any formal case record.

How Do I Know If I Qualify For a Domestic Violence Diversion Program?

If you can qualify for Alabama’s Domestic Violence Diversion Programs, it is always in your best interest to do so. You could avoid penalties, fines, and a complete disruption of your family life.

However, the specifics of your case, what they are, how they’re presented, and more, are all vital to your qualification.

Therefore, you must have a qualified, experienced domestic violence diversion lawyer to help you through this legally complex process.

Each case and its associated facts differ, and your skilled lawyer will be able to determine if you qualify and if you qualify.

Professional representation is also necessary because even if you qualify, you are not automatically accepted into any available domestic violence diversion program.

Your lawyer will fully explain that all the domestic violence diversion programs, even if you qualify, are at the prosecution’s discretion. In essence, the prosecution is the “gatekeeper” to these programs. So, your domestic violence diversion lawyer’s skilled and aggressive negotiation skills will often be critical in convincing the prosecution to allow you to gain access to these beneficial programs.

I’ve Been Charged With Domestic Violence in Alabama; What Should I Do?

 If you’ve been charged with domestic violence in Alabama, you must immediately obtain professional legal counsel, as your future may depend on it. Also, although Domestic Violence Diversion Programs are available, they are never easy to qualify for.

Jim Golden Law is passionately committed to fighting for your rights and standing firmly by your side in every aspect of your domestic violence case, including working to get you qualified and into a domestic violence diversion program.

Call Jim today at (866) 950-6652 and obtain a free case evaluation, and he will ensure you know all your available legal options. 

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