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If I’m arrested for domestic violence in Huntsville, is there a mandatory hold or cooling off period I must spend in jail?

Many people think there is either a 12 or 24 hour “cooling off” period for domestic violence arrests. They are wrong. There is no mandatory cooling off period for these kinds of cases.

What the law says, is that you cannot get bail until you see a judge or magistrate but you are supposed to see one within 24 hours. This doesn't mean you must wait 24 hours to see a judge or magistrate after you've been arrested. It means you're supposed to see one within 24 hours; In fact, if you are NOT brought before a judge or magistrate within 24 hours of arrest you shall be released on bail.

People often confuse this with the fact that a judge or magistrate can place certain conditions on your release. These conditions often include an order that you must stay away from the person who you have been accused of committing the crime against and that you not call them or otherwise communicate with them. The order may also include prohibitions against owning a firearm or other terms that the court believes to be appropriate under the circumstances.

The actual law on this issue is found in Alabama code at § 15-13-190. If you'd like to read it, it's reproduced here:

(a) A person arrested for an offense involving domestic violence as defined in Section 13A-6-139.1, who strikes, shoves, kicks, or otherwise touches a victim, as defined in Section 13A-6-139.1, or subjects him or her to physical contact, or is charged with a violation of a domestic violence protection order, may not be admitted to bail until after an appearance before a judge or magistrate within 24 hours of the arrest, and if the person is not taken before a judge or magistrate within 24 hours of the arrest, he or she shall be released on bail. Prior to the release of the person, the judge or magistrate shall review the facts of the arrest to determine whether the person is a threat to the alleged victim, is a threat to public safety, and is reasonably likely to appear in court.

(b) The judge or magistrate shall make findings on the record concerning those determinations and may impose conditions of release or bail on the person to protect the alleged victim of domestic violence or the person protected by a protection order, and to ensure the appearance of the person at a subsequent court proceeding. The conditions may include, but need not be limited to, enjoining the person from threatening to commit or committing acts of domestic violence against the alleged victim; restraining and enjoining the defendant from contacting the victim, as described in Section 30-5-7; prohibiting the person from possessing a firearm or other weapon specified by the court, except when such weapon is necessary for employment as a peace officer or military personnel; and issuing any other order or modification of orders above required to protect the safety of the alleged victim or to ensure the appearance of the person in court.

(c) If conditions of release are imposed, the judge or magistrate shall issue a written order for conditional release, immediately distribute a copy of the order to the law enforcement agency having custody of the arrested or charged person, place information pertaining to the order in the domestic violence protection order registry, and provide the law enforcement agency with any available information concerning the location of the alleged victim in a manner that protects the safety of the victim. Law enforcement shall provide a copy of the written order to the victim within 24 hours of receipt, provided that the victim provides law enforcement with current and accurate contact information, in accordance with the process outlined in Section 30-5-8.

(d) In cases in which the defendant has been placed on conditional release or bail pursuant to this section or is in violation of probation from an another case and is arrested on a probation violation warrant, a violation of written condition of release pursuant to this section, or a violation of a prior protection order, the court shall consider revocation of probation, conditional release, or bail. Should the court order continue probation, conditional release, or bail, the court shall order additional conditions imposed on the defendant to provide protection to the victim of domestic violence or the person protected by a protection order. Additional conditions shall be included in a written order.

(e) A person who willfully violates a condition of pretrial release provided in this section, when the original arrest was for an act of domestic violence as defined in Section 13A-6-139.1, shall be subject to the penalties provided in Section 13A-6-142, and shall receive an enhanced penalty and additional sentence of imprisonment in accordance with Section 13A-6-142.

§ 15-13-190, Alabama code (1975)

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