At the end of September, a man was accused of fatally setting his girlfriend on fire. After spending some time in the hospital, he is now being charged with second-degree murder and domestic assault.
In July, Wyndale Fayson was charged with felony domestic assault against his girlfriend Vanessa Danielson and had a no-contact order taken out against him. Fayson violated that no-contact order when he showed up at Danielson’s home.
Danielson called the police after Fayson got angry, damaged her phone, and threatened to set her house on fire and kill her. When the police arrived, Fayson had already left.
Tragically, though, when the police came back to Danielson’s home after a neighbor called 911, the apartment was on fire and Danielson, who was severely burned, was lying in the front yard.
Danielson was able to tell the paramedics that she “woke up on fire in bed” and she also told a neighbor that Fayson “was responsible.”
The police found Fayson a few blocks away, screaming from his own bad burns and allegedly telling police that he shouldn’t have gone back to the house.
Danielson died from her burn injuries, and Fayson is currently in Hennepin County Jail. His bail is $1 million for the murder charge… and $40,000 for the domestic assault charge.
This is a sad story for all involved, but it does put domestic assault in the spotlight and gives us a chance to better understand the aspects of this crime.
What Is Domestic Assault in Minnesota?
Many people might hear the story about Fayson and Danielson and wonder why Fayson was charged with domestic assault since he didn’t seem to physically touch her. He allegedly set fire to her apartment – wouldn’t that make his charge arson?
However, it’s not necessary to touch the victim in order to be charged with domestic assault. The Minnesota statutes state that if a person commits an act against a family or household member with intent to cause fear in another of immediate bodily harm or death; or intentionally inflicts or attempts to inflict bodily harm upon another, he is guilty of domestic assault.
The statutes further define “family or household members” to include:
- Spouses and former spouses;
- Parents and children;
- Persons related by blood;
- Persons who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past;
- Persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time;
- A man and woman if the woman is pregnant and the man is alleged to be the father, regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time; and
- Persons involved in a significant romantic or sexual relationship.
Since Fayson allegedly covered Danielson’s bed in gasoline and set it on fire while she was in the bed, the argument is that his actions inflicted bodily harm upon her and committed domestic assault.
Under this definition, any violent act could be considered domestic assault if it’s against a family or household member and
- It causes fear of bodily harm or death; or
- If someone attempts to cause or actually causes bodily harm.
Minnesota Domestic Assault Punishments
In our state, we have different levels of a domestic assault offense depending on the circumstances of the alleged crime.
Domestic assault is generally a misdemeanor offense, which is punishable by up to 90 days in jail, a fine up to $1,000, or both.
Domestic assault becomes a gross misdemeanor if the offender commits a domestic assault within 10 years of a previous domestic violence-related offense conviction or an adjudication of delinquency. A gross misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine up to $3,000, or both.
If a firearm was involved in the domestic assault, further consequences could include forfeiting your firearms as well as not being allowed to possess any type of firearm for any period longer than three years or for the remainder of your life.
You can also be charged with felony domestic assault if you commit a domestic assault within 10 years of two or more previous domestic violence-related offense convictions or adjudications of delinquency. A felony domestic assault is punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine up to $10,000, or both.
Fighting Your Minnesota Domestic Assault Charge
Domestic assault charges are taken seriously in our state and can negatively impact all aspects of your life. If you want the best chance to beat your domestic assault charges and clear your name, reach out to an experienced Minnesota domestic assault attorney today to get started on fighting for your rights.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is a Minneapolis-based criminal and DWI defense attorney known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge, and recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star (2014–2015), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2015), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2015).