Domestic violence is a serious offense. The charges and penalties associated with it can be quite severe. Running away from charges, however, is never the answer.
Take, for example, the recent story of an Albert Lea man. After being accused of domestic assault, he attempted to escape police in a high-speed chase. Naturally they caught him, though, and he now faces not only felony-level domestic assault charges, but also charges for evading law enforcement and driving under the influence of a controlled substance.
He remains in police custody as of this writing.
The better way to handle domestic assault charges is to face them head-on and fight them with the strongest legal defense you can muster. Below, we’re going to detail the law in Minnesota, associated penalties, and some ways to fight back.
How Minnesota Defines Domestic Assault
In Minnesota, domestic assault is defined as:
- Intentional infliction of bodily harm (injury),
- The attempt to inflict bodily harm, or
- Commission of any act intended to cause fear of bodily harm
- Against someone with whom the defendant has a domestic relationship
A domestic relationship is defined as family and household members including current or former spouses, parents, children, people related to the defendant, people who live together, and people who have or have had a romantic relationship.
Penalties for Domestic Assault in Minnesota
Simple domestic assault is charged as a gross misdemeanor punishable by 20-365 days in jail and a fine of up to $3,000.
Domestic assault is a felony if:
- The defendant has two or more prior domestic violence convictions
- The defendant strangles or blocks the nose or mouth of the victim
- Serious bodily injury is inflicted
- A gun was used to commit the act
Felony-level domestic assault is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
In addition to fines and jail time, domestic assault offenders are often required to complete batterer rehabilitation programs, and substance use evaluation and treatment programs.
If the domestic assault includes other illegal acts such as criminal sexual abuse, sexual assault, kidnapping, or false imprisonment, the defendant will be charged separately for these offenses.
Minnesota Protection Orders
If the defendant commits domestic assault or otherwise gives the victim reason to believe that domestic violence is imminent, the victim may file for a protective order. An emergency temporary protective order is granted by a judge without trial, and takes effect until the case is resolved. This means that the defendant cannot be in physical proximity to or contact the victim. In some cases, a protective order can be made permanent at trial.
Protective orders are necessary to protect victims of domestic violence against their abusers. However, they have grievous consequences for the perpetrators of domestic violence. If the defendant lives with the victim, the defendant must find and pay for alternative housing. Protective orders can also place restrictions on custody and visitation of minor children.
If the defendant is convicted of domestic assault and owns a firearm, he or she will be restricted from owning firearms for three years. If a firearm was used to commit the domestic assault, the gun must be forfeited, and the defendant will be prohibited from gun ownership for the rest of his/her life.
If gun prohibition is temporary, any guns in the defendant’s possession can be transferred to a third party for the duration of prohibition, and returned at the end of the prohibition.
Facing Minnesota Domestic Assault Charges?
We contend that domestic violence should never be tolerated, nor should false or exaggerated accusations used to gain legal leverage or seek revenge.
If you are facing domestic assault charges, it is essential to consult a Minnesota criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Defense attorneys have many potential means to fight these charges, and can help build the best possible defense for your case.
Just a few commonly used defense strategies include:
- defense of others
- lack of probable cause
- false accusation
In some cases, it may even be possible to get your charges thrown out entirely, but only if you work with a knowledgeable lawyer, and only if you act fast. Get in touch with our office 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 (2014–2015), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2015), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2015).