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Domestic Violence-Harassment in Alabama

 

Domestic Violence-Harassment in Alabama

The Crime

To commit the crime of domestic violence-harassment, a person must commit some version of the underlying criminal offense of harassment and, they must be in Alabama law defines as a domestic relationship with the victim. Domestic relations include dating relations, wives and ex-wives parents and children and current or former household members where there was a past romantic or sexual relationship.

The crime of harassment can be committed two different ways.

Physical harassment

The first and most common way this crime occurs is when someone, with the intent to harass, annoy or alarm, another person strikes, shoves, kicks or otherwise unlawfully touches that person. This is sometimes referred to as “physical harassment”. In a domestic violence case, there must be a domestic relationship between the people.

Example:

Becky tells her husband, Brutus, she's leaving him. Becky starts to walk towards out of their apartment. Brutus gives her a push and says “Don't let the door hit you in the butt when you're leaving.”

Brutus has committed the crime of domestic violence harassment since he pushed Becky with the intent to harass or annoy her and they are in a domestic relationship.

Abusive or obscene language harassment

The second way this crime occurs when someone directs abusive or obscene language makes an obscene gesture towards another person. Here again for this case to be charged as a domestic violence case there must be some sort of domestic relationship between the people. Because we have a right to free speech, there are not many domestic violence cases involving abusive or obscene language. The law requires that the harassment must include a threat that is made with the intent to carry out the threat which would cause a reasonable person who is the target of the threat to fear for their safety.

 Once again Becky tells her husband Brutus that she's leaving. Brutus goes and opens up the gun cabinet and says “you better get out that door before I load this gun or you're not gonna make it.”

 Brutus has committed the crime of harassment because he has made a threat with the intent to carry it out that would cause a reasonable person (in this case Becky) to fear for her safety. Under these facts, Brutus could be found guilty of domestic violence by way of harassing language.

Defenses

 

For physical harassment, there are a number of commonly raised defenses. One of the defenses is simply that it didn't happen either the accusation has been fabricated or that there was no intent to harass or annoy the other person and the situation has been exaggerated. A typical example might be a husband who grabs his wife's hand to prevent her from smashing a plate or grabbing a car key. His defense is that while he did have physical contact, it was not done with the intent to harass or annoy the other person. Similarly, it is not uncommon for a person who was accused assert that they grabbed the other person to prevent themselves from physical harm or to prevent that person from completing some act of self-harm.

In harassment cases involving obscene or abusive language the, defenses are that it didn't happen or that the description of what happened is either falsified or exaggerated. Another defense that will threat may have been made there was no intent to carry out the threat nor one that would cause any reasonable person to believe that there was a threat to their safety. For example, a wife might say to her husband I'm going to shove your golf bag right up your butt. The defense would be that while her statement was exaggerated there was no intent for her to actually carry out the threat nor did her husband reasonably think that he was in any danger or that she was really going to “shove his golf bag up his butt.”

Of course, some people are guilty of these crimes and there are times where their sufficient evidence for them to be convicted. Your lawyer will need to evaluate the evidence and determine what the best way of resolving your case is. If it is a case in which there is a strong likelihood that you would be convicted, your best option could be to negotiate some form of counseling that results in avoiding a conviction.

Punishment

Domestic violence harassment is a class A misdemeanor carrying up to a year in jail and a fine as high as $6000.00. Once the element of the domestic relationship is added, the punishment for harassment increases substantially.

A nondomestic violence harassment case is a class C misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of up to three months in jail and a fine potentially as high as $500.

What do I do if I've been accused of this crime?

You should speak with a lawyer so that you may be educated as to your best options. If you think you might want to retain our services, feel free to give us a call at any time. You can either call us at (256) 533-4529 or you can fill out the contact sheet by completing the contact form here:

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