Drug Distribution

photo of a pill bottle labeled controlled substances

There is a debate within American society as to whether the use of controlled substances such as drugs should be banned. Some claim that drug crimes are victimless crimes and not much different than alcohol; others cite their effects, both short and long term, as reason to ban them. Regardless, under both Alabama state law and federal law, illegal drug distribution and use are illegal, and the penalties for violating anti-drug statutes are harsh.

Statistics reveal that law enforcement, particularly drug enforcement, focuses on those who distribute drugs. It seems that law enforcement does not look to enforce the law against end users. They seek to enforce the law against distributors, manufacturers, and those involved in transporting the drugs.

Alabama Law

The Alabama statute criminalizing drug distribution makes it unlawful for a person to sell, furnish, give away, deliver, or distribute a controlled substance. A controlled substance is defined in … Read More

What is Res Ipsa Loquitur?

photo of a legal document with negligence written across the top

One day, a man walks down a public street minding his own business. As he passes a store that sells flour, a barrel of flour falls from a second-story loft and hits him in the head, causing significant damage. The plaintiff is unable to prove that the store owner breached his duty of care. Regardless, the court holds the store owner liable for negligence based on the legal theory of res ipsa loquitur. This theory presumes negligence because it infers negligence based on the nature of events. This is the case of Byrne v. Boadle from 1863, wherein an English Court inferred negligence and held the store owner responsible. Alabama courts also recognize the tort theory of res ipsa loquitur.

Note that res ipsa loquitur makes a rebuttable presumption of guilt, not a definitive determination of guilt. If a plaintiff successfully raises a res ipsa loquitur charge, the burden … Read More

Carrying a Firearm

man with a concealed weapon

The third amendment to the Alabama State Constitution, passed in 2014, states that the Constitution “provide[s] that every citizen has a fundamental right to bear arms and that any restriction on this right would be subject to strict scrutiny.” In theory, this amendment provides every Alabama citizen the right to open carry of a firearm, even if the person carrying the firearm does not have a permit. There are restrictions, however, as certain individuals may not carry a gun and certain circumstances prohibit individuals from carrying guns.

Individuals Banned from Carrying Guns

The Alabama Code provides that the following may not carry a gun:

  • People who were convicted of committing or attempting to commit a violent crime;
  • Drug addicts or “habitual drunkards;” or
  • Anyone who intends to do bodily harm on the premises of a public school.

Note that school security personnel are exempt from this ban if acting to … Read More

Wrongful Death in Alabama

photo of the top of an ambulanceImagine this shocking scenario: A dad is driving to pick up his kids from their friends’ house after school. On his way to the house, a drunk driver plows into the dad’s car, severely injuring the dad. An ambulance rushes to the scene and takes the dad to the hospital. His condition is critical; the man is hemorrhaging and has multiple fractures and he has fallen into a coma. His wife later comes to the hospital to find her husband in bad shape. Three days later, the dad dies. After a grieving period, the mom decides to sue the driver of the other car for wrongful death.

 Wrongful Death

Alabama law defines wrongful death as the “wrongful act, omission, or negligence causing death” of another. The deceased’s estate, through his or her personal representative, can bring the suit.

The law also provides that a wrongful death claim may be brought … Read More

Statutory Rape

photo of man in handcuffs“But I thought that she was 16!”

Often, when someone is accused of statutory rape in Alabama, these are the first words uttered. While the accused may have reasonably and properly thought that the other person was at least 16 years old, the accused can still be liable for statutory rape.

Statutory Rape Defined

Under Alabama law, statutory rape is when someone who has reached the age of consent, which is someone 16 years old or older, has sex with someone under the age of 16. The law is premised on the idea that someone below the age of sixteen lacks capacity to consent to sex. As such, sex with that person is not consensual and is therefore rape.

Note that if the parties are legally married and reside in Alabama, then the person aged 16 or older did not commit statutory rape. Thus, a 20-year-old who has sex with … Read More

Join JeffCo DA-Elect Charles Henderson’s Fight Now


Todd Henderson dedicated his life to serving his community and fellow man. A 30-year resident of Jefferson County, Mr. Henderson, also an Eagle Scout, served in law enforcement both at the state and federal level for more than a decade.

Mr. Henderson has served as a defense lawyer for the last 15 years, fighting to provide fair representation and protect ing the rights of those accused of crimes. He promoted respect for law and the Constitution for more than half of a century and he upholds service, sacrifice, and commitment to Jefferson County. Recently, the people of Jefferson County elected Mr. Henderson to serve as their District Attorney. Mr. Henderson is the first Democrat elected to that office in over 30 years.

Under Alabama law, an indictment prevents one from carrying out the duties of the position of the … Read More

Can An Employer Use a Potential Employee’s Bankruptcy Against Him?

photo of bankruptcy document

Besides the social stigma of filing for bankruptcy, bankrupt debtors, both those who are enduring and have completed the bankruptcy process, will need to contend with potential employment discrimination. Current and potential employers may have concerns about the debtor’s character, thereby hurting a debtor’s chances of continuing or securing employment.

Congressional Response

In response to post-bankruptcy employment discrimination, Congress enacted section 525 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Specifically, the Code in section 525(a) provides that “a governmental unit may not…deny employment to, terminate the employment of, or discriminate with respect to employment against, a person that is or has been a debtor under this title or a bankrupt or a debtor under the Bankruptcy Act.” In section 525(b) the Code provides that “[n]o private employer may terminate the employment of, or discriminate with respect to employment against, an individual who is or has been a debtor under this … Read More

Uncontested Divorce in Alabama

photo of divorce proceeding

Divorce is a difficult process. For an uncontested divorce, meaning that both spouses agree on everything and do not need the court to divide assets or make determinations about spousal or child support or custody, the process is less time consuming and less costly. For a contested divorce, the parties do not agree and need a third party, often times a court, to intervene, making the divorce process more time consuming and costlier.

What happens when the divorce is contested but one party does not respond? In terms of a lawsuit, a plaintiff is the person filing for the divorce and the defendant is the person not filing for the divorce. Alabama law contemplates a scenario wherein the plaintiff files a complaint seeking divorce and the defendant does not respond. This is called a default divorce.

Default Process

If a case goes before a judge, the judge will determine … Read More

Best Interests of the Child


One of the most difficult and grueling aspects of a divorce or separation is child custody. Studies show that where the child goes and with whom that child associates are crucial factors in shaping the child’s life. Because divorce and separation are difficult for young children, it is imperative that courts properly determine custody arrangements for a child upon the divorce or separation of that child’s parents.

To handle this issue, Alabama family law courts apply a “best interest of the child” standard when determining child custody cases. Read further for a more detailed explanation of this legal standard.

The Tender Years Doctrine

Prior to 1981, when parents disputed rights in child custody, Alabama law provided for the “Tender Years Doctrine,” wherein a child under the age of 7 be in the mother’s care, custody and control, unless there was compelling evidence that the child’s best interest was to be … Read More

Assumption of the Risk

photo of police tape in car wreck

In the 2003 case of Pittman v United Tolls, plaintiff Gayle Pittman was involved in an accident on a bridge operated and maintained by defendant United Tolls. In that case, Pittman skidded on the icy bridge, which caused an accident that injured her. Pittman claimed that United Tolls was negligent in not maintaining a safe driving environment on the bridge when it did not remove the ice.

United Tolls countered that Pittman assumed the risk, meaning that she knows of the risk on driving in icy conditions and disregarded that risk. Therefore, United Tolls argued, it cannot be held responsible for Pittman’s actions.

On appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court (ASC), the ASC outlined a two-prong test to determine whether a defendant can succeed with the defense of assumption of the risk:

  • That the plaintiff had knowledge of, and an appreciation of, the danger the plaintiff faced; and That
Read More