What is a domestic violence in the third-degree harassment charge?.
The most common form of this charge involves an accusation that a person who is in a domestic relationship with another person as either struck, shoved, kicked or otherwise unlawfully touched a person or has subjected them to physical contact.While less common, this crime may also be committed if someone directs abusive or obscene language at the other party which, typically involves a credible threat that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety.
Where can this law be found?
The specific law for domestic violence in the third degree is found in Alabama Code Section 13A - 6 - 132. To commit this crime a person has to be in a domestic relationship and must commit the crime of harassment which is found in section 13A - 11 - 8 of the Code of Alabama. For your convenience, these laws are reproduced at the end of this article.
Are there defenses to this kind of crime?
Yes. There are a number of defenses to the crime of domestic violence harassment. First , let's address those defenses that apply to a charge of domestic violence,physical harassment :
One of the more common defenses is t the person had no intent to commit the crime. For example if someone was flailing their arms about during a heated argument and unintentionally struck the other party, this would not be a crime.
Even if the accused person intentionally struck or otherwise touched the other party, their action may have been entirely justified as an act of self-defense. For example, if Joe balls his hand in a fist and Cox's arm back and Sally pushes him away, Sally would not be guilty of domestic violence because she was acting reasonably in self-defense.
Sometimes the defense is "it never happened". Unfortunately in heated domestic violence situations sometimes people lie to gain the upper hand. This happens frequently. Some people will make a false report of domestic violence simply to get the other party arrested or to gain the upper hand in divorce or child custody proceedings.
If I'm guilty of this crime, is it worth hiring an attorney?
Absolutely. There are a number of reasons for this.
Many times an attorney can help a person who is guilty to avoid a conviction. There are a variety of ways an attorney can ethically accomplish this goal.
Sometimes the matter can be negotiated where the charge will be dismissed if the accused person successfully completes counseling.
Sometimes the prosecutor can be convinced that pursuing the matter simply does not accomplish the interests of Justice.
Sometimes people believe themselves to be guilty but they don't quite understand the law and may not be guilty of the crime.
Even when someone is guilty of the crime, it is always the The prosecution's burden to prove this beyond a reasonable doubt. In some instances, the prosecution just does not have sufficient proof to establish the person committed the crime.
If you're accused of this crime, at the minimum, you should have a consultation with a competent criminal defense lawyer before you make any decision as for how you want to proceed in the future.
What kind of consequences are there for someone who is convicted of domestic violence harassment?
While the crime of harassment is normally treated as a Class C misdemeanor, when this charge occurs in the context of domestic violence it is a Class A misdemeanor under Alabama law. This means a convicted person faces up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $6000.00 for a first offense. A second conviction requires a mandatory 10 days in jail and a third conviction is treated as a class C felony for which the person could face up to 10 years in the State Penitentiary.
A conviction for domestic violence also carries many collateral consequences. People convicted of this crime often find it difficult to keep or obtain a job since employers are often concerned about the person's stability and whether they provide a safety or security risk on the job.
Being convicted of a domestic violence crime can also affect issues such as divorce, child custody and a variety of other potential issues.
If you are accused of this crime, or any other crime for that matter, feel free to give us a call here at Segal and Segall. Our telephone number is ( 256) 533 - 4529
Domestic violence - Third degree, 13A-6-132, Code of Alabama
(a) A person commits domestic violence in the third degree if the person commits the crime of assault in the third degree pursuant to Section 13A-6-22; the crime of menacing pursuant to Section 13A-6-23; the crime of reckless endangerment pursuant to Section 13A-6-24; the crime of criminal coercion pursuant to Section 13A-6-25; the crime of harassment pursuant to subsection (a) of Section 13A-11-8; the crime of criminal surveillance pursuant to Section 13A-11-32; the crime of harassing communications pursuant to subsection (b) of Section 13A-11-8; the crime of criminal trespass in the third degree pursuant to Section 13A-7-4; the crime of criminal mischief in the second or third degree pursuant to Sections 13A-7-22 and 13A-7-23; or the crime of arson in the third degree pursuant to Section 13A-7-43; and the victim 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 relationship, as defined in Section 13A-6-139.1, with the defendant. Domestic violence in the third degree is a Class A misdemeanor.
(b) The minimum term of imprisonment imposed under subsection (a) shall be 30 days without consideration of reduction in time if a defendant willfully violates a protection order issued by a court of competent jurisdiction and in the process of violating the order commits domestic violence in the third degree.
(c) A second conviction under subsection (a) is a Class A misdemeanor, except the defendant shall serve a minimum term of imprisonment of 10 days in a city or county jail or detention facility without consideration for any reduction in time.
(d) A third or subsequent conviction under subsection (a) is a Class C felony.
(e) For purposes of determining second, third, or subsequent number of convictions, convictions in municipal court shall be included.
Harassment or harassing communications
(a)(1) HARASSMENT. A person commits the crime of harassment if, with intent to harass, annoy, or alarm another person, he or she either:
a. Strikes, shoves, kicks, or otherwise touches a person or subjects him or her to physical contact.
b. Directs abusive or obscene language or makes an obscene gesture towards another person.
(2) For purposes of this section, harassment shall include a threat, verbal or nonverbal, made with the intent to carry out the threat, that would cause a reasonable person who is the target of the threat to fear for his or her safety.
(3) Harassment is a Class C misdemeanor.
(b)(1) HARASSING COMMUNICATIONS. A person commits the crime of harassing communications if, with intent to harass or alarm another person, he or she does any of the following:
a. Communicates with a person, anonymously or otherwise, by telephone, telegraph, mail, or any other form of written or electronic communication, in a manner likely to harass or cause alarm.
b. Makes a telephone call, whether or not a conversation ensues, with no purpose of legitimate communication.
c. Telephones another person and addresses to or about such other person any lewd or obscene words or language.
Nothing in this section shall apply to legitimate business telephone communications.
(2) Harassing communications is a Class C misdemeanor.