Minnesota Domestic Violence
Domestic disputes that involve physical abuse, sexual abuse, threats or any other type of physical or emotional harm can result in domestic assault charges under Minnesota law, and these types of criminal charges come with serious, long-lasting penalties. If a disagreement between you and your spouse or another member of your family or household escalates and becomes a violent or threatening confrontation, you could end up facing criminal charges for domestic assault. Domestic violence carries a lasting stigma that can adversely impact your life for years to come, even after you have served your time. The best way to avoid a criminal conviction for domestic violence in Minnesota is to enlist the help of a criminal defense attorney who specializes in domestic violence defense.
Minnesota Domestic Violence Law
MN Stat § 518B.01, also known as the Domestic Abuse Act, is Minnesota’s law covering criminal acts of domestic violence. This law defines “domestic abuse” as any of the following acts, if committed by a family or household member against another family or household member:
- Physical harm, bodily injury, or assault,
- The infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault,
- Terroristic threats,
- Criminal sexual conduct, or
- Interference with an emergency call.
MN Stat § 518B.01(b) contains a description of what specific types of relationships make people “family or household members” under the law. It includes spouses and former spouses, parents and children, people related by blood, people who are currently living together or who have lived together in the past, a man and a woman if the woman is pregnant and the man is alleged to be the father, people involved in a significant romantic or sexual relationship, and people who have a child in common regardless of whether they have ever been married or lived together at any time.
Minnesota Domestic Violence Penalties
Misdemeanor Domestic Assault
The penalties for domestic assault in Minnesota are set forth in MN Stat § 609.2242 Subdivision 1, which states that any person who commits the crime of assault against a family or household member is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a sentence of up to 90 days in jail, up to $1,000 in fines, or both. MN Stat § 609.2242 Subdivision 2 states that any person who commits an assault against a family or household member within 10 years of a previous domestic violence-related conviction is guilty of a gross misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment for up to one year, up to $3,000 in fines, or both.
Felony Domestic Assault
There are certain circumstances under which domestic violence can be prosecuted as a felony, rather than a misdemeanor. Pursuant to MN Stat. § 609.2247, Domestic Assault by Strangulation, any person who assaults a family or household member by strangulation is guilty of a felony offense carrying a possible penalty of imprisonment for up to three years, up to $5,000 in fines, or both. Additionally, Subdivision 4 of MN Stat § 609.2242 states that any person who commits a crime of domestic assault within 10 years of the first of any combination of two or more previous domestic violence-related convictions is guilty of a felony, punishable by a sentence of imprisonment for up to five years, up to $10,000 in fines, or both.
Minnesota Domestic Violence Protective Orders
Alleged victims of domestic abuse in Minnesota can petition the court for an order of protection, also known as a domestic violence restraining order, which can order the alleged offender (the respondent) to:
- Refrain from committing further domestic abuse
- Leave the home the respondent shares with the alleged victim (the petitioner)
- Refrain from contacting the petitioner
- Temporarily relinquish certain child custody or visitation rights
- Pay temporary spousal support or child support
- Attend counseling or treatment
- Pay restitution to the petitioner for costs incurred as a result of the alleged abuse
Violating a domestic violence protective order is a crime in Minnesota and doing so can result in additional criminal charges. As a misdemeanor, violation of a domestic violence protective order carries a minimum punishment of three days imprisonment, plus mandatory participation in counseling or a batterer’s intervention program. In some cases, violation of a protective order can be charged as a felony, if the defendant violates the order within 10 years of the first of two or more previous domestic violence-related convictions or while possessing a dangerous weapon. As a felony offense, violating a protective order carries a possible penalty of imprisonment for up to five years, up to $10,000 in fines, or both.
Domestic Assault Defense in Minnesota
We all know that relationships can be complicated and sometimes circumstances arise that turn what would otherwise be a simple disagreement into a heated situation that results in a domestic violence arrest. In some cases, a jealous spouse or vindictive ex-partner may even make false claims of domestic assault in an effort to get revenge against the other person or to gain the upper hand in a divorce or child custody proceeding. Law enforcement officials and prosecutors tend to take a tough stance against crimes involving family or household members and these crimes come with serious, far-reaching legal consequences. You can even face criminal charges for domestic violence if you have been falsely accused. However, you can only be convicted of the crime if the prosecution can prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Regardless of what kind of criminal charge you are facing, you have rights and a domestic violence defense lawyer can help.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
Criminal acts of domestic violence are taken very seriously in Minnesota, and if you have been arrested for domestic abuse or accused of assault in a petition for a domestic violence restraining order, it is in your best interest to hire a reputable domestic violence defense attorney to represent your case, even if you have not yet been formally charged. A conviction for domestic assault carries harsh penalties in Minnesota, possibly including a lengthy jail or prison sentence, among other serious consequences. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the domestic assault charge, you could also lose your parental rights as well as certain civil rights and be prohibited from possessing any type of firearm for three or more years or possibly even for the rest of your life, following a domestic assault conviction. To get the best possible defense against a Minnesota domestic assault charge, you will need specialized legal representation from an experienced Minnesota domestic violence defense attorney.