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Frequently asked questions about the crime of domestic violence by strangulation or suffocation in Alabama

What is the crime of domestic violence by strangulation or suffocation in Alabama?

This crime is committed when a person, in a domestic relationship, either commits an assault with the intent to cause physical harm or commits the crime of menacing and the crime is accompanied by either strangulation or suffocation or attempted strangulation or suffocation against the victim.

What are typical defenses to this crime?

Defenses to this crime vary depending upon the specific facts. Some of the more common defenses are here:

It is not uncommon for these charges to be completely false; accusations of suffocation and strangulation frequently surface in domestic violence situations and sometimes the complaining witness will falsely claim to have been suffocated or strangled. Under these circumstances there may not be any physical or medical evidence supporting their claim. Sometimes, even when there is evidence such as bruising and scratches about the throat, they are self-inflicted.

Sometimes the accused person was acting in self-defense. For example, if someone was being attacked with a knife and they temporarily grabbed the attacker by the throat to prevent themselves from being stabbed, this would be valid self defense.

The defense may be there was no criminal intent. For example, it is not unusual for a larger person to be accused of domestic violence suffocation when they are on top of a smaller person where they are trying to prevent themselves from being assaulted by the smaller person or to prevent self harm by the smaller party. The smaller person may complain of being unable to breathe and, this may be true; but this does not mean the larger person was intentionally trying to suffocate the "victim".

Sadly, in highly emotionally charged situations, people sometimes begin to hyperventilate; this may result in false charges of domestic violence suffocation or strangulation.When alcohol and/or drugs are involved it may be difficult to unravel what actually happened. Under our laws, if a person cannot be proved to have committed a criminal act, beyond-a-reasonable-doubt, they're entitled to be found not guilty.

What is the punishment for someone convicted of domestic violence strangulation or suffocation?

This crime is a class B felony under Alabama law. Punishment for a class B felony is not more than 20 years in prison nor less than two years in prison. Punishment also includes fines of up to $30,000.

How can a lawyer help me if I'm accused of this crime?

A skillful attorney will review the facts and the law in great detail and discuss the matter with his client to determine what is the best strategy under the circumstances.

Because this is such a dangerous road, anyone accused of this should want a skillful and appropriately experienced attorney to help navigate the legal minefield they are facing. Even when a person is guilty, a skillfull lawyer may be able to enable thier client to avoid a conviction or minimize the consequences.

If you'd like our help, just give us a call here at Segal & Segal. (256)533-4529

Segal & Segal, Serving Madison, Morgan, Marshall, Limestone and Jackson Counties.

For your convenience the actual statute is reproduced here:

Domestic violence by strangulation or suffocation.

Code of Alabama, Section 13A-6-138

(a) For the purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:

(1) STRANGULATION. Intentionally causing asphyxia by closure or compression of the blood vessels or air passages of the neck as a result of external pressure on the neck.

(2) SUFFOCATION. Intentionally causing asphyxia by depriving a person of air or by preventing a person from breathing through the inhalation of toxic gases or by blocking or obstructing the airway of a person, by any means other than by strangulation.

(b) A person commits the crime of domestic violence by strangulation or suffocation if he or she commits an assault with intent to cause physical harm or commits the crime of menacing pursuant to Section 13A-6-23, by strangulation or suffocation or attempted strangulation or suffocation against a victim, as the term is defined in Section 13A-6-139.1.

(c) Domestic violence by strangulation or suffocation is a Class B felony punishable as provided by law.


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