An Overview Of Domestic Violence Cases In The State Of Alabama

Interviewer: What type of evidence is needed to prosecute a domestic violence case?

Brett Hollett: Typically, it’s going to be the testimony of the victim and then, obviously any physical evidence to corroborate that testimony that may be presented at trial or in court such as pictures of physical markings, that kind of thing. Additionally, the State must prove that 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 with the defendant.

Dating Relationship Defined

Interviewer: How is a dating relationship defined?

Brett Hollett: Case law has defined a dating relationship as a serious courtship…a social relationship between two individuals who have or have had a reciprocally amorous and increasingly exclusive interest in one another, and shared expectation of growth of that mutual interest, that has endured for such a length of time and stimulated such frequent interactions that the relationship cannot be deemed to have been causal. However, the court will typically take several factors into consideration such as: 1) Was there social interpersonal bonding of the parties over and above mere causal fraternization; 2) How long did the alleged dating activities continue prior to the domestic violence alleged; 3) What were the nature and frequency of the parties’ interactions; 4) What were the parties’ ongoing expectations with the respect to their relationship; 5) Did the parties demonstrate an affirmation of their relationship before others by statement or conduct; and 6) Are there any reasons unique to this case that support or detract from a finding that a dating relationship existed.

Common Client Mistakes in a Domestic Violence Case

Interviewer: What are some mistakes that a client can make during the process that they may not even be aware of?

Brett Hollett: They talk too much. This is a problem in almost any case. However, when the police are called out and if drugs or alcohol involved and emotions are high, people are not in thinking about what they are saying. Any defendant should just try to refrain from giving any kind of statement until they have had a chance to consult with an attorney and cool down.

It is Important to Be in a Serene Frame of Mind When Giving a Statement to the Police

Initially, I would say the best thing to do is to cool off and get your wits about you and then obviously talk to an attorney; if you have been charged, you need to talk to an attorney and figure out what’s going on. Your attorney can look at all the evidence and attempt to contact the victim to see if a resolution can be reached.

An Assault in a Domestic Violence Scenario Can Cause Charges to be Aggravated

Interviewer: When it comes to assault itself, how does that relate to domestic violence? What determines whether an assault in a domestic violence case is like a first degree or second degree, how to understand what that means? So, what does that mean for like if I have, what would that mean to my case? You know what would be the factor?

Brett Hollett: Domestic violence third degree is a Class A misdemeanor. A person commits DV 3 if the person commits the crime of assault in the third degree, the crime of menacing, the crime of reckless endangerment, the crime of criminal coercion or the crime of harassment; and the victim is a current or former spouse or who has or has had a dating relationship with defendant. A person convicted of DV 3 can be sentenced up to 1 year in prison.

Domestic Violence in the Second Degree, Domestic Violence by Strangulation or Suffocation and Domestic Violence in the First Degree Constitute Felony Charges

So, it’s basically any dating type relationship and/or spouse or a child type relationship, you can be charged with domestic violence. Domestic violence in the third degree is a Class A misdemeanor and then, it goes up from there. A person commits domestic violence in a second degree if the person commits the crime of assault second degree. Domestic Violence by Strangulation or Suffocation occurs when a person by strangulation or suffocation commits an assault with the intent to cause physical harm. DV 2 or DV by Strangulation or Suffocation are Class B felonies and the defendant shall serve a minimum 6 months in prison without consideration of probation and up to 20 years in prison. A person commits domestic violence in the first degree if the person commits the crime of assault first degree. DV 1 is a Class A felony and the defendant shall serve a minimum of 12 months in prison without consideration of probation or parole and up to life or 99 years in prison.

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