Alabama law classifies domestic violence as a crime. The state’s Protection from Abuse Act provides law enforcement officers and the courts the ability to protect victims of domestic violence through court orders, as well as arrest and imprisonment of abusers. Alabama law states that the statute’s purpose is “to assure victims of domestic violence the maximum protection from abuse that the law can provide.”
If you have been abused by a domestic partner or ex-partner or are in a violent domestic relationship, Huntsville family law attorney Leigh Daniel is here to help you. Our legal team can help you obtain a protection order and help you relocate to a safe shelter. Leigh is trained and certified as a narcissistic abuse specialist and can offer guidance from an empathetic, trauma-informed perspective.
What Is Considered Domestic Violence in Alabama?
Alabama law defines crimes of domestic violence as acts, attempts, or threats of abuse against individuals with whom the abuser has or previously had a domestic relationship.
Crimes of domestic violence include:
- Assault, including by strangulation or suffocation
- Child Abuse
- Criminal Coercion
- Criminal Mischief
- Criminal Surveillance
- Criminal Trespass
- Harassing Communications
- Intimidating a Witness
- Reckless Endangerment
- Sexual Abuse
- Unlawful Imprisonment
These offenses meet the definition of domestic violence or domestic abuse if the victim is connected to the perpetrator as a:
- Current or former spouse
- A person with whom the defendant has a child in common
- Present household member (excluding non-romantic or non-intimate co-residents)
- A person who has a dating relationship with the defendant, which means a current or former relationship of a romantic or intimate nature characterized by the expectation of affectionate or sexual involvement by either party.
Obtaining a Protection Order in Huntsville, AL
A victim of domestic violence or abuse in Alabama can petition the local county circuit court for a Protection Order. A Protection Order, also referred to as a Restraining Order, is a court order that provides limited protection for people who have been physically abused.
Protection Orders may be issued if there have been one or more recent acts of domestic violence or threatened abuse.
After you file a petition for a protection order with the court, the judge can and, in most cases, will issue a Temporary Protection Order. It can be issued without notifying the defendant, but the petition must provide a valid address for the defendant so they may be served afterward with the order and notice of a hearing date.
A Temporary Protection Order (TPO) may contain such restrictions as:
- Directing the defendant not to commit or threaten acts of abuse and not to harass, telephone, contact, or otherwise communicate directly or indirectly with the victim, the victim’s minor children, or any other designated person.
- Ordering the defendant to stay away from the victim’s residence or place of work, school or daycare, or another specific place frequented by the victim or victim’s minor children or by any other designated person.
- Awarding the victim temporary custody of any minor children and prohibiting the defendant from removing the children from the victim’s custody. The order may be used to have law enforcement accompany the victim to get the children and to protect the victim or the children from harm.
- Removing the defendant from the residence, regardless of the ownership of the residence.
- Prohibiting the defendant from selling, destroying, hiding, or mortgaging mutually owned or leased real estate or personal property.
- Ordering additional relief to provide for the safety and protection of the victim, the victim’s minor children, and other designated persons.
In most cases, a victim of domestic violence or abuse can obtain a temporary protection order by signing the petition and affirming its accuracy before a judge. To obtain a Final Protection Order, the victim of abuse must present evidence at a court hearing. The defendant will have the opportunity to respond at the hearing and make a case against any restrictions sought. Either party can and should be represented by an attorney at a Final Protection Order hearing.
If the judge issues a Final Protection Order (FPO), the judge may put an FPO in effect for as few as 60 days or make it an indefinite order.
An FPO may:
- Require a specific child visitation schedule for the defendant, which may include supervised visitation in the presence of a third party or withhold visitation completely.
- Order the defendant to pay the domestic violence victim’s attorney’s fees and court costs.
- Order the defendant to pay child support.
- Order the defendant to provide temporary support for the victim and grant the victim possession of the residence.
- Order the defendant to provide the victim temporary use of a vehicle if the victim has no other means of transportation and the defendant has control of more than one vehicle.
A Protection Order is effective throughout the state of Alabama as well as in other states. If the defendant violates the terms of the protection order, the defendant may be arrested, held in contempt of court, and charged with a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine up to $2,000.
Talk to a Compassionate Huntsville Domestic Violence Victim Lawyers Today
The Madison County Clerk of Court’s office advises that “Although a Protection Order can be an important tool in helping the police and the courts discourage domestic violence, it is a judicial order and not a shield which will stop bullets, knives or fists. Often when a defendant first gets a Protection Order served on him/her, they may seek to increase the pressure, threats, and violence. It may be necessary for the victim to seek shelter or a safe place or call the police.”
Obtaining a Protection Order can have significant legal consequences, especially involving issues such as custody of children and access to marital property. It’s important to have trusted legal guidance.
Let Leigh Daniel Family Law help if you are dealing with domestic abuse. We can help you obtain Temporary and Final Protection Orders and get further assistance if necessary. Leigh Daniel is an experienced divorce attorney who understands what you have been through. She is not a therapist, but she has training in narcissistic abuse syndrome and can offer you the emotional support and legal representation you need during this difficult time. If you need additional professional support, including emergency assistance, Leigh’s firm can make referrals for you.
Call Leigh Daniel Family Law today to schedule a confidential consultation.