Protection Orders Against Domestic Violence
In Alabama, if you or your children have been victims of/are currently under threat of domestic violence there are things you can do to protect yourselves.
The first step is to file for a protective order. There are various types of protective orders, and each is designed to help protect victims from further abuse.
A protection order (PO) doesn’t necessarily stop the abuser from further hurting the victim. It does, however, restrict contact with an abuser and give victims a lot more power to involve law enforcement and escalate the issue.
What Are Protection Orders?
Protection orders are legal documents issued by a court that sets out specific orders that one party must follow.
This will typically order a person to adhere to keeping a certain distance from the victim, not being able to contact them, not have someone else contact them, and so on.
Depending on the type of abuse and reason for the order, the order will, at the very least take action to prevent the same type of abuse from happening again.
Under Alabama law, there are three types of protection orders:
Protection from Abuse (PFA)
This protective order can be filed at any time a person feels although they are in danger. This order will ask the abuser not to contact or go near the victim to prevent further harm.
No Contact Order
A No Contact Order can only be filed if criminal charges are also filed against the abuser. This order strictly prohibits any contact from the abuser.
Typically only used in domestic relations cases, restraining orders will set specific orders on the abuser to protect victims from further harm.
Filing for Protection Orders Against Domestic Violence
Alabama law states that anyone can file for an order of protection if they can prove they, or their children, have been victims of domestic abuse. This includes satisfying a judge that you reasonably fear further abuse from that person.
Under Alabama Code, to prove domestic violence you must prove that you have been the victim of one or more of the following:
- Attempt to commit one of these or another crime
- Child abuse
- Criminal coercion
- Criminal trespass
- Other acts that could be charged as a crime
- Reckless endangerment
- Sexual assault
- Unlawful imprisonment
If you are uncertain about whether or not the abuse you’ve suffered will be seen as domestic abuse, call our office to discuss your case with an experienced attorney.
How to Get a Protective Order
It’s strongly advisable that you seek the advice of an experienced attorney before requesting a Protection Order.
This is because you want to make sure that you’re going to put forward a successful case to a judge the first time. In addition to this, protective orders often become long processes that require legal assistance.
Under the advice of your attorney, you will need to go to court to request a Protection Order. You do not have to press charges to request a Protective Order, and in many cases, victims do not do so.
What you will need to prove or testify to in court are:
- The dates and details of the domestic abuse you and/or your children have suffered. The more detail you have at this point the better it will be for your case.
- You will also have to explain why you feel like you are still in danger or afraid of further harm.
- You will need to show physical evidence of any injuries you sustained. Either by medical records and photos or if you currently have visible injuries.
- Call any witnesses that have seen the abuse and are able to add some extra weight to your case.
The abuser will not be present during your first hearing for your own safety. A judge can issue an emergency order if they feel although you are in immediate danger.
After your initial hearing, there will be a final hearing scheduled. This gives the abuser the opportunity to tell their side of the story and effectively defend themselves.
You will both be present at this hearing. If successful, you can be awarded a Protection Order that can last up to one year.
Penalties If an Abuser Violates a Protection Order
A Protection Order clearly sets out some orders that an abuser must adhere to. Failure to do so will result in them being arrested.
Alabama Code – Section 30-5A-4 clearly states that a law enforcement officer can arrest anyone they believe has violated the terms of a Protection Order without a warrant.
This is where Protection Orders give victims a lot of power. If you feel although the abuser has violated the terms of the order, you can call the police and have them look into it.
The penalties for violating orders are harsh in Alabama. Unless accompanied by special circumstances, typical penalties are:
- A first offense is treated as a Class A misdemeanor and carries a sentence of up to one year in jail and/or $6,000 in fines.
- For a second offense, the abuser can be held in jail for 48 hours while the case is looked at and additional punishments are worked out.
- For a third and subsequent offenses, abusers face a minimum of 30 days jail time. In addition to this additional punishments will be imposed based on the circumstances of the violation.
Contact an Experienced Domestic Abuse Attorney
If you’ve been a victim of domestic abuse we understand how traumatic and stressful your situation is. However, it’s essential you call an experienced attorney as soon as possible to protect you and your family.
Warren Freeman, Attorney at Law, has been representing victims of domestic abuse in Alabama for more than 20 years. He has extensive experience handling all types of protection orders, and always puts the safety and wellbeing of clients first.
Call our office today on (256) 253-3169 to schedule your free consultation to discuss your estates and wills with Warren Freeman.