In Minnesota, deeds defined as acts of domestic violence are unlawful. What many people don’t realize is that it’s not just illegal under state law to commit domestic violence, but federal law as well.
This is why it’s critical if you’re charged with domestic violence to understand how both state and federal laws can apply to your case. Here is what you need to know about domestic violence crimes in Minnesota and when those charges can turn into federal crimes.
Domestic Violence Defined
When you commit violent acts against a family member, intimate partner, or household member, such as stalking, assault, strangulation, terroristic threats, criminal sexual assault, or any other action that can inflict physical harm, it is considered domestic violence.
Under the law, committing these crimes against certain people will set you up for a domestic violence charge, such as:
- Family members
- Household members
- Former spouses
- Anyone you’ve lived with or currently live with
- Someone with whom you’re in a sexual or significant relationship
- Anyone you share a child with
- A woman pregnant with your child
The most commonly charged crime associated with domestic violence is domestic assault.
This occurs when a person intentionally inflicts or attempts to inflict bodily harm on another person or puts them in fear of bodily harm or death.
The penalties in Minnesota depend on the circumstances surrounding the case. It can be charged as a:
- Misdemeanor, which can result in 90 days in jail and fines of as much as $1,000
- Gross misdemeanor, garnering up to 12 months behind bars and fines of $3,000.
- Felony conviction, which can result in up to five years in prison.
If bodily harm or death are involved, then the consequences can be even more serious.
Federal Definition of Domestic Violence
Under federal law, domestic violence is defined in much the same way as Minnesota law. It occurs when someone uses, attempts to use, or threatens to use force against a person who is considered a household member.
This could be their former or current spouse, someone they share a child with, someone living in the same home as they are, or someone protected by the domestic violence laws in the state in which they reside.
When a Domestic Violence Case Turns Federal
So, when does a domestic violence case merit being charged in federal court? After all, you don’t see the federal government intervening in every domestic violence case. Instead, a person will only be charged on the federal level if they do one of these things while committing domestic violence:
Travel across state lines. The defendant would do this with the intent to harass or injure an intimate partner or spouse. If they commit the crime of domestic violence that results in bodily injury in an interstate fashion, federal law gets involved.
Force an intimate partner or spouse to cross state lines. This can be done through fraud, duress, or coercion. In the course of these events, they commit a crime of domestic violence that causes bodily injury.
If you are charged with domestic violence in federal court, you can face up to five years in federal prison. But if bodily injury is involved, the amount of time faced can increase to 20 years, depending on the extent of the injury.
Domestic violence cases can be complicated. That’s why it’s important to understand the charges against you and your rights in the process.
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.