Minnesota has a domestic violence problem. If you don’t believe it, look at the past few weeks.
Lyuba Savenok, 23, of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, was killed in a domestic violence homicide on May 14. She was stabbed by her husband, Eugene Savenok. The homicide came a week before Eugene was set to go to court for misdemeanor domestic violence charges. He now faces two counts of first degree murder, because Lyuba was 26 weeks pregnant when she was murdered.
The news of Lybua Savenok broke on the same day that police discovered the body of Tasha Lynn Hanson, 24, of Lewiston. Her husband and the father of her two children, Kyle Benjamin Allers, strangled her to death and left her body in the woods.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The deaths of Savenok and Hanson mark four domestic violence homicide deaths in just three short weeks, and seven deaths from domestic violence homicide in Minnesota this year.
These shocking statistics will likely spark action by Minnesota law enforcement to crack down on domestic violence in the state. Which seems like a good thing. After all, it is the job of law enforcement officials to protect people and hold the guilty responsible.
But when officials actively crusade against a particular type of offense, it often leads to overzealous policing and an attempt to turn people into examples. But does this even work?
A Sharp Increase in Felony Convictions
This is not the first year Minnesota will look to arrest more people accused of domestic violence and give harsh sentences to those who are convicted. Since 2003, the number of people convicted for domestic abuse-related felonies has risen over 500%.
You read that right. In 2003, 229 people were given felony sentences for domestic abuse or violence. By 2013, that number had jumped to 1,500. And the number continues to increase.
If people were being effectively deterred from engaging in domestic violence, wouldn’t you expect to see these numbers start to decline? Instead, horrific incidents like the ones above continue to occur even as more and more people are put behind bars.
Domestic Assault Laws and Penalties in Minnesota
What currently qualifies as domestic assault? Here’s how things stand right now:
- Attempting to cause bodily harm
- Causing bodily harm
- Causing the fear of bodily harm through another action
If any of these are committed against a family member, roommate, blood relative, significant other (past or present), or spouse (past or present), the charge becomes a case of domestic assault. Domestic assault charges start as a misdemeanor offense. If the assault involves strangling, suffocation, or strangulation, it becomes a felony offense.
A police officer does not need a warrant to arrest someone if he or she has reason to believe that the person has committed domestic violence. And now cops are going to be actively looking for issues to prove that they’re tough on domestic violence.
What kind of consequences are you looking at?
If you are convicted of misdemeanor domestic assault, you could face up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
If you are convicted of felony domestic assault, you could face up to three years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
Keep in mind that these penalties apply to those who have not been previously convicted of a domestic violence-related offense.
These are the penalties facing repeat offenders:
- One prior conviction: up to one year in jail and/or fine of up to $3,000
- Two or more prior convictions: up to five years in jail and/or fine of up to $10,000
If you have been convicted on domestic violence charges, you will also be prohibited from possessing a firearm. Moreover, merely being charged can have a disastrous impact on your family and your career. It’s not uncommon for someone to lose their job if they are accused of domestic violence, and defendants are frequently forced from their homes and prevented from contacting their children or the victim through a protective order.
What to Do If You Are Charged or Arrested
You shouldn’t have to shoulder the burden for crimes that others are responsible for, but if you get charged with domestic violence in our state in the near future, that is likely what will happen.
How do you protect yourself? By fighting back with the strongest defense possible. Work with a Minnesota domestic violence attorney who has successfully handled cases like yours before and understands how to mount a strategy designed to poke holes in the prosecution’s case while bolstering yours.
Protect your rights. Protect your life. Protect your future. Get in touch today.
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).