Offenses in Minnesota that include domestic violence are unique. Why? Because they are subject to criminal penalties, one would expect to find associated with crimes – as well as elevated penalties for prior convictions related to domestic violence.
The prior convictions are called “qualified domestic violence-related offenses.” They can be used to enhance a charge related to domestic violence years after they were placed on your criminal record. This is one of the reasons why it’s vital to understand not only any new domestic violence charges you may encounter but also how your past can play a part in the present.
Here is what you need to know about domestic violence in Minnesota, qualified domestic violence-related offenses, and what they can mean for your future.
What Is Domestic Violence in Minnesota?
The state of Minnesota defines domestic violence as acts or threats of physical harm against a member of your household or family. These acts can result in criminal penalties, including collateral consequences such as restraining orders, firearms restrictions, and mandatory time in jail.
The most common crime of domestic violence charged in Minnesota is domestic assault. It occurs when one person intentionally inflicts or tries to inflict bodily harm on another person – or commits an act that intends to put someone in fear of imminent bodily harm or death.
A member of the household or family is further defined under the law as:
- Current and former spouses
- Anyone with whom you share a child
- Those related to you by blood or marriage
- Anyone that has lived or currently lives together
- Those who have shared a significant sexual relationship
However, domestic violence crimes aren’t limited to assault. It is also considered a domestic violence crime to try to strangle another person, carry out terroristic threats, sexually assault someone, or stalk them. As long as the victim is someone who qualifies as a member of the household or family, you can face domestic violence-related charges.
Penalties for Domestic Violence Crimes
There are many crimes that can be charged as domestic violence, and they can range from a misdemeanor to felony crimes.
In general, you can expect domestic violence penalties to be:
Misdemeanor and Gross Misdemeanor
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor crime, then you can face up to three months in jail and fines of $1,000. For gross misdemeanors, the jail time rises to one year and the fines raise to $3,000.
For felony domestic violence crimes, you face penalties depending on the circumstances of the case. For example, if a weapon was used or substantial bodily harm was done, then you can go to prison for up to five years. If great bodily harm was done, you may face 20 years in prison.
What Is a Qualified Prior Offense?
If you are arrested and charged with a domestic violence crime in Minnesota, your previous criminal record can have an impact on the penalties of any future convictions. There are certain crimes that a person can have on their record – referred to as qualified prior offenses – that, if perpetrated in the last 10 years, can be used to enhance any current charges.
The crimes that count as qualified prior offenses in domestic violence cases include:
- Violation of an order for protection
- Domestic assault
- Violation of a no-contact order
- Interference with an emergency call
- Domestic assault by strangulation
- Murder in the first or second degree
- Terroristic threats
- Assault in the first, second, third, fourth, or fifth degree
- Malicious punishment of a child
- Violation of a restraining order for harassment
- Criminal sexual conduct in the first, second, third, or fourth degree
If you have a prior conviction that falls on this list, then you can face additional penalties of up to one year in jail and fines of as much as $3,000, as well as any penalties associated with the current charges. If you have two or more convictions from this list, then you can face up to five additional years behind bars and additional fines of as much as $10,000.
In addition to any penalties of imprisonment and fines, there are other consequences a person can face that are referred to as collateral consequences. This can include the order by the court to participate in counseling, complete community service hours, complete anger management classes, be monitored for alcohol usage, and complete probation.
Convictions for domestic violence crimes can also result in the order to give up any firearms you may own or that were used in the commission of the crime. If you don’t comply with this, then you face additional penalties of up to one year in jail and more fines ordered by the court.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is an AV-Preeminent rated criminal and DWI defense attorney based in Minneapolis who is 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 named a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law by the Minnesota Bar Association. Mr. Keyser is Lead Counsel rated, and he has received recognition for his criminal law work from Avvo, Expertise, Super Lawyers, The National Trial Lawyers, and more.