Domestic assault can lead to some severe injuries, whether or not the alleged abuser intended to cause damage to the victim. In some cases, a victim will have to receive medical care or visit a hospital for their injuries.
When they are in treatment, signs of domestic violence could be discovered and reported to authorities. In some cases, trying to help out someone in your household with injuries could lead to an accusation of domestic violence – whether or not you caused the violence or there ever was any violence in the first place.
Let’s look at a recent example in Minnesota. A father attempted to help his child in an emergency situation, but ended up making a call that would ultimately land him in jail for two and a half years.
Child Receives Treatment for Injuries, Father Receives Two Years in Jail
Last year, Nicholas Ray Schmitz called the Montevideo Police in hopes that he could save his infant child. His 6-month old daughter wasn’t breathing. He told law enforcement that he heard her crying and saw his 19-month old lying on top of the child. Authorities helped him save his daughter. After he picked her up, she vomited and began breathing again.
Schmitz was very calm throughout the call, which raised some red flags among the officers who responded to the call. The baby was taken to Chippewa County-Montevideo Hospital, then flown in by helicopter to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis when her injuries proved to be severe.
At the hospital and at a follow-up appointment, doctors discovered the baby was suffering from a subdural hemorrhage, brain injury, retinal hemorrhages, and three rib fractures. The injuries were clearly too severe to be the result of the slips and falls of curious infants. They were clear signs of domestic assault.
He was charged with first-degree assault and gross misdemeanor domestic assault, but as part of a plea agreement those charges were dropped and Schmitz pled guilty to third-degree assault. Per his agreement, Schmitz will spend two and a half years in prison for the third-degree assault. He also lost custody of both of his children.
Reporting Domestic Assault Is Required of Many Professionals
When the hospital staff saw the state Schmitz’s child was in, they had to report the incident as a possible domestic assault. If a daycare staff member or teacher had seen the child’s injuries, they also would have had to report that there were signs of domestic violence. That’s just the beginning, though. Minnesota law requires the following professionals to report signs of domestic violence:
- Medical professionals, hospital administration, dental professionals
- Social workers, group home staff, foster parents, family child care providers, child care center staff
- Psychologists, therapists, psychiatrists
- Teachers, teachers’ assistants, school administrators, any aide working in an educational building
- Law enforcement, probation officers
- Clergy members (unless the information is heard through certain circumstances)
These laws are in place because so few victims of domestic assault come forward while they are being abused. They are designed to help people who are too afraid to help themselves.
Sometimes, however, alleged victims are not coming forward for a very good reason: because there isn’t any domestic assault happening in the first place.
The injuries that Schmitz’s child suffered were pretty blatant signs of domestic assault, but not every case is so obvious. Simple accidents or unfortunate situations can easily be mistaken for domestic violence.
This can put an awkward pressure on many professionals. Even if they do not have cut-and-dry evidence of abuse, they may still be bound by the law to report someone for domestic violence. This can lead to people being falsely charged with domestic violence, forcing them to fight an uphill battle to prove that they are innocent.
If You Have Been Accused of Domestic Assault in Minnesota
Most acts of domestic violence are committed by men. This is a fact. However, it can sometimes lead to false assumptions and accusations. Sometimes, men are even mistaken as abusers when in reality they are the victims.
Whether this describes your situation or not, the simple truth is that you have to take the charges seriously if you want to protect your rights and your family. Domestic assault charges can land you in jail for multiple years, so it is important to have a strong defense and be prepared to fight the charges against you.
An experienced Minnesota domestic violence lawyer will give you the best chance at getting your charges reduced, dropped, or dismissed and receiving a positive outcome. Get started today by contacting our office.
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 (2014–2016), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2016), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2016).