Graves Pleads Guilty To Sexual Abuse; Gets Suspended Sentence & Probation

The case of the State of Alabama versus James Donald Graves was on the docket for a potential full jury trial during this month’s ‘Criminal Trial Week’ at the Cullman County Courthouse.

The case involved an arrest and a criminal charge of: “Sexual Abuse 1st Degree.” levied against former Cullman County Commission Chairman, James Graves.

At the time, the alleged crime became quickly and widely documented by media outlets across the state of Alabama.

Between Graves arrest and this week’s court proceedings, the defendant was arrested again while out on $15,000 cash bond for Witness Tempering.

Graves’ entered a ‘not guilty’ plea on the orignal criminal charge and held that position right up until Tuesday admission of guilt in open court.

Former Commissioner James Graves Arrested Forced Sexual Abuse Minor

A 32nd Judicial Circuit Grand Jury indictment came down on July 20, 2017, describing a juvenile with the initials of B.L.J. as the victim of ‘sexual contact by forcible compulsion’ at the alleged hands of James Donald Graves.

B.L.J. was born on March 24, 2000. The young man in question is now 18 years old.

On August 30, 2017, a motion was filed by Graves legal team TO DETERMINE COMPETENCY TO STAND TRIAL. This motion outlined concerns about Graves’ mental condition and competency to stand trial. It mentions an appointment to be assessed by the Chief Psychiatrist at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Birmingham.

On Tuesday, immediately after the jury selection was completed, Graves entered a Plea of Guilty to the Honorable Madison County Circuit Judge Sterling Watson, Jr. (retired).

Watson was administering the proceeding after all eligible 32nd Judicial Circuit Judges recused themselves from the case. The judges all had some contact or relations with Graves during his time as County Administrator and/or County Commission Chairman.

Graves’ legal team from the law firm of Berry, Berry, Little, Bruner & Chaney were able to strike a Plea Agreement with the Cullman District Attorney’s Office led by C. Wilson Blaylock which represented that State on behalf of the victim B.L.J.

The Plea Agreement and subsequent guilty plea let Graves avoid prison time for his admitted Class C felony.

Graves received:

• A 10-year Suspended Sentence
• Five years of supervised probation
• Required registration as a Sex Offender

Additionally, it was ordered by Judge Watson that Graves have no future contact – of any kind – with the victim B.L.J. And inversely, B.L.J. was ordered to have no contact with Graves in the future.

Graves also waived his right to claim indigency claims in matters related to this case, AND his right to appeal the guilty verdict.

In a case where a jury finds a defendant guilty of Sexual Abuse 1st Degree, the penalty is not less than one year and one day and not more than ten years imprisonment in the state penitentiary including a fine not to exceed $15,000.

It appears Graves’ pleading of guilt was the wise choice in the face of a full jury trail that might well have ended with the former Chairman doing hard prison time.


Graves Pleads Guilty To Sexual Abuse; Gets Suspended Sentence & Probation

Main image by True Blue Productions

Timothy Collins

Timothy brings an insightful holistic perspective as well as a mountain man tenacity to his various roles at Cullman Today. You can reach him at

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