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ACADV Summary: Domestic Violence as a Crime (Act 00-266)

Full Text of the Law
Summary, DV Holding Period (Act 00-597)
Summary of Domestic Abuse Insurance Protection Act


Effective July 1, 2000, Alabama became the 26th state to name domestic violence as a separate crime in the criminal code. The new law (Act 00-266) defines misdemeanor and felony domestic violence crimes, creates mandatory minimum sentences for those arrested repeatedly, and directs police officers to look for indications of a primary aggressor in assessing complaints.
Domestic Violence Offenses

As defined in the new law, the crime of Domestic Violence involves a victim and a perpetrator with one of the following relationships:

"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 or engagement relationship with the defendant".

When one of these relationships exists, the following offenses are charged as Domestic Violence and subject to warrantless arrest. (Note that when a warrantless arrest is made on these offenses and the above relationship exists, the charge must be Domestic Violence.)

Domestic Violence in the 1st Degree
  • Class A Felony
  • Defined as Assault 1st Degree pursuant to 13A-6-20 with above relationship.
  • Second or subsequent offense has mandatory minimum imprisonment of 1 year; if also violation of protection order mandatory minimum imprisonment of 2 years.
Domestic Violence in the 2nd Degree
  • Class B Felony
  • Defined as Assault 2nd Degree pursuant to 13A-6-21 with above relationship.
  • Second or subsequent offense has mandatory minimum imprisonment of 6 months; if also violation of protection order mandatory minimum imprisonment of 1 year.
Domestic Violence in the 3rd Degree
  • Class A Misdemeanor
  • Defined as Assault 3rd Degree pursuant to 13A-6-22, Menacing 13A-6-23, Reckless Endangerment 13A-6-24, Criminal Coercion 13A-6-25, or Harassment 13A-11-8(a), with above relationship.
  • Second or subsequent offense has mandatory minimum imprisonment of 48 hours; if also violation of protection order mandatory minimum imprisonment of 96 hours.
Dual Complaints

If an officer receives complaints of domestic violence from two or more parties, (s)he shall:
  • evaluate each complaint separately, and
  • determine the primary physical aggressor based on prior complaints of domestic violence, the relative severity of injuries, likelihood of future injuries, and whether one person acted in self-defense.
Certain Officer Threats Prohibited

An officer shall not threaten, suggest or otherwise indicate the possible arrest of all parties to discourage the request for intervention by law enforcement.

Basis for Officer’s Decision to Arrest

An officer shall not base the decision to arrest on the consent or request of the victim, or on the victim’s willingness to testify.


ACADV Summary: Domestic Violence Holding Period (Act 00-597)


Effective August 1, 2000, this law (15-13-190) established a holding period for arrested abusers and an appearance before a judge or magistrate, to set conditions on bail that can protect victims. The holding period is intended in part to provide time for a victim to find safety in a shelter or with friends before the abuser is released.

Holding Period

Persons arrested for violating a protection order (PFA) or for domestic violence as defined in subdivisions 1-4 of subsection (b) of Section 15-10-3 of the Code of Alabama 1975, may not be admitted to bail until after an appearance before a judge or magistrate; if they are not taken before a judge or magistrate within 12 hours after arrest, the person shall be released on bail.

Bail Requirements / Conditions of Release

Prior to release, the judge or magistrate shall review the facts of arrest to determine threat to the alleged victim, threat to public safety, and likelihood person will appear in court. The judge or magistrate shall make those findings on record, and may impose Conditions of Release or Bail to protect the victim, and ensure the defendant’s appearance in court.
The conditions may include, but need not be limited to:
  • enjoining the person from threatening to commit or committing acts of domestic violence against the alleged victim.
  • prohibiting the person from telephoning, contacting, or otherwise communicating with the alleged victim with the intent to harass, either directly or indirectly.
  • ordering the person to stay away from the home of the alleged victim, when the person and the alleged victim are not residents of the same home, and ordering the person to stay away from any other location where the victim is likely to be.
  • prohibiting the person from possessing a firearm or other weapon specified by the court, except when such weapon is necessary for employment as a peace officer or military personnel.
  • issuing any other order or modification of orders required to protect the safety of the alleged victim or to ensure the appearance of the person in court.
If Conditions of Release are imposed, the judge or magistrate shall:
  • issue a written order and distribute it to the agency with custody.
  • place the information in the protection order registry.
  • provide law enforcement with information on the location of the victim in a manner that protects the victim.

Arrest for Violation of Conditions of Release

By bringing the conditions of release under the Protection Order Enforcement Act (Code of Alabama, 30-5A-1 through 30-5A-7), the Act permits warrantless arrest for violations of conditions of release, even if no other offense occurs.


ACADV Summary of Domestic Abuse Insurance Protection Act


This law, (00-595), which went into effect August 1, makes Alabama one of 30 states to prohibit the insurance industry from discriminating against victims of domestic violence. The law, which was developed by the ACADV, protects victims from losing insurance or having claims denied because their injury or loss was caused by their abusive partner.

Examples from Alabama of insurance discrimination issues:

  • In Marshall County, a victim was intentionally forced off the road by her ex-husband. Her automobile insurance company refused to cover the damage to her car because the act was not an "accident." Her car was totaled and she subsequently lost her job because she was unable to get to work without transportation.
  • In Houston County, employees of a domestic violence shelter were turned down for health insurance because the insurance company believed that they were "at high risk" of injury from client’s husbands or boyfriends.
  • In Madison County, a convenience store clerk was robbed and seriously assaulted while on the job by her ex-boyfriend. Her worker’s compensation provider denied her claim because the injuries were not considered employment related. Her health insurance provider denied her claim because her injuries were received while at the work site and were, therefore, employment related.
  • In Southeast Alabama, a domestic violence victim was awarded the marital home by the divorce court. Subsequently, her ex-husband burned the house to the ground. Her homeowners insurance refused to cover the claim because the homeowner’s policy was initially purchased by both the husband and wife.

The new bill protects victims through the following provisions:

  • Prohibits an insurance provider from using a person’s status as a domestic violence victim as a reason to deny insurance to that person.
  • Prohibits a provider from denying insurance to an agency or individual because of their association with a victim of domestic violence.
  • Prohibits a provider from denying coverage for losses because those losses resulted from domestic violence.
  • Prohibits increased insurance premiums because the insured is a domestic violence victim or provides assistance to a victim.
  • Prohibits the immediate termination of a health insurance policy because a victim divorces the abuser in whose name the policy was originally issued. The insured victim must meet all other requirements for continued coverage and must pay the full premium for the policy.
  • Limits the conditions under which information about a victim of abuse or a domestic violence shelter can be released by an insurance provider.
  • Allows the Insurance Commissioner to enforce the law and provides for penalties for violation.

The new Act also protects property and casualty insurance companies from fraud by limiting the continued coverage requirements to victims who have separated from their abusers, and requires claimants to seek legal recourse against their abuser, in addition to insurance reimbursement. To reduce motivation for domestic homicide, the Act permits life insurers to deny life insurance applications taken on a victim by the abuser.


Full Text of Domestic Violence as a Crime Law
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