This page includes a combination of information from Harriet's House
and the ACADV about Alabama Law and domestic violence,
resources to legal help, and information and F.A.Q.'s about Protection Orders.
Alabama law supports victims of domestic violence in several ways:
IF YOU LEAVE YOU WILL NOT LOSE YOUR RIGHTS TO YOUR CHILDREN, YOUR HOUSE, OR YOUR BELONGINGS.
Abandonment is not grounds for a divorce until you are gone for a whole year.
Take the children with you - not only for their safety, but because it might be difficult to regain physical custody later without complicated court involvement. If you do take the children with you consult an attorney immediately to determine appropriate action.
Stay with friends or relatives. or call Harriet's House. All shelters in the State of Alabama accept children with their parent.
Protection Orders were created as a result of the Protection From Abuse Act. If You can demonstrate that you are in immediate danger, the court can issue a protection order which can forbid the abuser from harrassing, contacting, threatening, or hurting you, as well as forbid the abuser from stealing your money. A protection order can grant the victim temporary custody of the children, the house, and even the family car. A protection order is enforceable by law enforcement.
There are do-it-yourself forms available at the county clerk's office, so you do not need an attorney to apply for a protection order. You may be eligible for free legal assistance through Harriet's House. The Advocates at Harriet's House can tell you if you meet eligibility requirements.
If a protection order is issued by the Court:
Provide law enforcement in your area with a copy of the protection order, and keep a copy of the order with you at all times. Call the police if your abuser violates any part of the court order. An offender who violates a protection order can be arrested at the scene. Although a protection order is enforceable by law enforcement, it is generally effective only when the abuser has respect for the law. Therefore, you need to continue to take other safety measures.
All physical forms of domestic violence are against the law in Alabama. The criminal charges can range from simple assault to stalking, rape, or murder. Many abusive partners are also guilty of harrassing communications, menacing reckless endangerment, or criminal coercion.
There are two ways to begin a criminal action against an abuser:
Collect any evidence you have regarding the abuse. Examples of evidence are photographs of physical injuries or damages to personal property, medical records evidencing injuries sustained during the abuse incident, witnesses, etc. You should also provide a copy of the police report (I/O Report) from the police department. You will need to know the names and badge numbers of the officers who investigated and the law requires that the oficers give you that information. You do not have to have a police report to swear out a warrant, but it will assist the magistrate in determining probable cause to issue the warrant.
If the abuser is arrested, it does not mean that he or she will stay in jail for long. The abuser may post bond or be released pending trial. Make sure you will be safe when he or she gets out. Call HARRIET'S HOUSE if you do not have a safe place to go. When the abuser is released from jail, the court, through law enforcement, may impose conditions of release on the abuser. Similar to a protection order, these conditions may forbid the abuser from harrassing, contacting, threatening and hurting you. A Condition of Release is enforceable by law enforcement. If the abuser violates any of the court's conditions, he or she can be arrested and returned to custody until trial.
Hearings trials, and sentencing: Once the abuser has been arrested, the court will schedule an arraignment. As the victim, you have the right to be present at any hearing you want. At the arraignment, the abuser will plead "guilty" or "not guilty". If the plea is "guilty", the abuser may be sentenced right away. If the plea is "not guilty", the court will set a hearing date.
It is important for you to understand that the abuser's arrest does not necessarily mean that there will be a trial. Criminal charges are sometimes disposed of through plea bargaining In many criminal cases, the prosecutor, the defense attorney and the defendant reach an agreement on which the defendant agrees to plead guilty, and the prosecutor agrees to request a less severe penalty.
Trial: If the abuser pleads "not guilty" at the arraignment, the court
will set a trial date. Unless he or she is being tried fora a felony in circuit
court, there will not be a jury. Any evidence you have collected will help the
prosecution, but the most important piece of evidence is always the
victims testimony. If the abuser is convicted, he or she may be jailed,
fined, placed on probation, and/or ordered to attend a domestic violence
It is important for you to cooperate with the prosecutor. If your abuser has threatened you, let the prosecutor know. Many abusers threaten their victim so that the victim will ask the court to drop the criminal charges. Domestic violence is a crime, and it is important that the abuser be held accountable for his or her actions. Doing nothing, or not following through with criminal actions sends a clear message to the abuser that domestic violence is okay, and that he or she can and will get away with it.
Many local prosecutors have adopted a "no-drop" policy in domestic violence cases. This means that you cannot drop the charges - only the prosecutor can. If you are thinking of dropping the charges in a court that does not have a no-drop policy, please call HARRIET'S HOUSE for help with safety plans and community resources before you request that the charges be dropped.
You can arrange to have a HARRIET'S HOUSE advocate accompany you to court for hearings, swearing out a warrant, and applying for a protection order. Call 289-8988 or 800-650-6522 for more information.
Stalking: Stalking has been a crime in Alabama since 1993, but it is sometimes difficult to prove. If an abuser has stalked you in spite of a protection order, he or she can be charged with an even higher level felony. If you are being stalked, call the police, and document every incident of stalking. Write down the time and date of every harassing telephone call. Note every time the stalker appears at your work or home and save any notes he or she leaves you. You may need to use all of th above as evidence to prove that you are being stalked. For your own safety, tell people that you are afraid, and set up a network of family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. Obtain a protection order.
Alabama's Victim's Compensation Act allows the state to compensate victim's of family violence for certain expenses. The Victim's Compensation Fund can help pay for things like medical expenses, physical therapy, counseling, lost wages, attorney fees, and moving expenses. A victim's eligibilty can be determined by contacting the local Victims' Service Officer or an advocate of Harriet's House.
Legal Services Corporation of Alabama: Legal services based on income
eligibility. NOTE: If legal services are required for application of
a Protection Order, please contact HARRIET'S HOUSE for referral to the proper
Legal Services Corporation office.
Marengo and Sumter Counties are served by the Selma Regional Office at:
1114 Church Street
Greene County is served by the Tuscaloosa Regional Office at:
1351 McFarland Blvd. East
Lawyer Referral Service: Sponsored by the Alabama State Bar, this is a learing house where attorneys register the types of cases they handle. You will be referred to a licensed attorney who will charge a small fee for an initial interview. Call for referral.
All counties: 1-800-392-5660
The remainder of this page is a duplicate of the FAQ information available at
the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence's web site concerning Protection Orders.
A Protection from Abuse (PFA) Order
provides a legal option for someone who is being abused or
threatened by an intimate partner, or former partner. If you
believe you may be in danger or need assistance, call the Alabama Domestic
Violence crisis line. Help is available 24 hours a
day, 7 days a week.
The following is general information about Protection From
Abuse Orders. Harriet's House
provides this information as a service to you and does not
assume legal liability for its
| FREQUENTLY ASKED QUSESTIONS
about Protection From Abuse Orders, courtesy of the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
1. What is a Protection Order?
A PFA is a circuit court order which provides legal protection for a person in or just out of an abusive relationship. With a PFA order, the police can intervene before your abuser harms you. Any violation of the PFA order is a crime.
2. What can the Protection
3. How does a PFA help
4. Who can get
5. Why would I want a PFA?
6. Do I have to get a
divorce or sign a warrant first?
7. I have a restraining
order. How do I know if it is a PFA?
8. I'm in the middle of a
divorce. Can I still get a PFA?
9. How do I
10. What questions do I
need to answer?
11. What information will I need?
12. What if I don't have
13. How can I keep my
address a secret from my abuser?
14. Do I need a
15. What if I want a lawyer
and can't afford one?
16. What does it
17. What if I am in danger?
Can I get one right away?
18. What will the
emergency PFA order do?
19. Will I automatically
get an emergency PFA?
20. What if the judge
denies my request for emergency protection?
21. How long does the
emergency PFA order last?
22. What happens at the
PFA court hearing?
23. Will I be safe in
24. What do I need to tell
25. What does a permanent
26. How long does a
permanent Protection Order last?
IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO CARRY YOUR
PROTECTION ORDER WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES. MAKE SEVERAL COPIES. LEAVE
THEM IN YOUR CAR, AT WORK, AT SCHOOL, WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY. GIVE
COPIES TO ALL AGENCIES LISTED IN THE ORDER.
28. What should I do if
my abuser violates my PFA order?
29. Will my abuser go to jail
if he violates the order?
30. How long will my abuser
be locked up?
31. Does he have to abuse
me to be arrested?
32. What are the
33. Will a PFA protect my
|Protection Orders offer
legal remedies to women who are abused. Remember,
battered women are in the most danger when leaving or
separating from a relationship.
Some safety tips: Keep a copy of your protection order with you at all times. Make copies of your order and post it at work or school. Give a copy to the police departments in your community. If you feel safe, tell your boss, minister, friends and family that you have a protection order against your abuser. Call the police if your batterer violates the order. Make sure the violation is documented. Charges can be filed against your batterer for violating a Protection Order. Call your local domestic violence program if you have any questions about your Protection Order. If you don't know your local shelter, call the domestic violence hotline 1-800-650-6522 to be connected to the program in your area.