Facing any type of assault charge in Minnesota is serious, but there are particular concerns associated with domestic assault charges that are important for everyone to understand.
Many people do not understand the difference between assault and domestic assault – or when the line is crossed that turns an assault into a domestic one. That’s understandable since, from the outside, complex legal matters can be confusing and not-so-simple to grasp.
Here is what you need to know about assault in Minnesota, including when an assault drifts over into the domestic assault category – and the penalties that can be incurred as a result.
Assault in Minnesota
First, let’s start with what assault is in Minnesota. Assault occurs when someone acts in a way that is meant to cause fear of injury or actual injury to someone else. It can be either indirect, such as adding something to their food to make them ill, or direct, such as physically punching another person.
Minnesota has five degrees of assault, from first degree to fifth. First-degree is the most serious, but all degrees of assault can land you in prison with fines if you are found guilty.
What Makes Assault Domestic?
Domestic assault is similar to assault insomuch as one person is attempting to cause another person harm or put them in fear of harm, either directly or indirectly, as mentioned.
The difference, however, is who the target of that violence is. If it’s a stranger you meet in a bar, then it’s assault. If it’s someone you are married to or someone you live with, then it’s domestic assault.
That is what separates domestic assault from assault: the victim is a member of your family or household. The law defines these people as:
- Someone to whom you have been married to or are currently married
- Parents, children, grandchildren, or anyone related to you by blood
- Anyone with whom you currently live or have lived in the past
- Anyone with whom you have a child in common
- Anyone who is currently pregnant with your child
- Anyone with whom you’ve had a significant sexual or romantic relationship
Different Levels of Domestic Assault
There are several levels of domestic assault, though they are not broken up into degrees like assault. There is simple domestic assault, which is assault that lacks aggravating factors. It is a misdemeanor, so you’ll go to jail for no more than three months and pay fines of as much as $1,000.
However, if the incident involved strangulation, then it is considered aggravated, which makes it a felony. For a felony, you can spend up to three years in prison and be required to pay fines of as much as $5,000.
Prior Domestic Violence-Related Offenses
If you have a criminal record that includes any other type of domestic violence offense in Minnesota, and you are charged with domestic assault within 10 years of your last conviction, then you can get into more legal trouble.
You may be charged with a gross misdemeanor for simple domestic assault. This can send you to jail for one year and make you responsible for fines of up to $3,000.
However, two or more of these types of prior offenses turn domestic assault into a felony charge, which can send you to prison for five years and require you to pay fines of as much as $10,000.
Crimes on your record that are considered qualified domestic-violence related offenses include:
- First or second-degree murder
- First through fifth-degree assault
- The violation of an Order of Protection
- The violation of a no-contact order for domestic abuse
- Domestic assault
- Domestic assault by strangulation
- Terroristic threats
- Interfering with an emergency call
Firearms and Domestic Violence Crimes
If you are found guilty of domestic assault by strangulation and a firearm was used during the commission of the crime, then you must surrender the weapon to law enforcement. If you possess a firearm when you shouldn’t be allowed under the law, then you can face new charges as well as alteration of probation or parole terms, which can cause consequences regarding your original domestic assault case.
Additional Consequences for Domestic Assault
If you are found guilty of domestic assault, then you face incarceration, fines, and possibly losing your firearms – but that’s not all. There are other collateral consequences involved in domestic assault cases. The court may order you to attend counseling, complete community service hours, go to anger management classes, complete an alcohol assessment, and be on probation. So, it’s a conviction that can impact your life in a variety of ways.
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. Keyers 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.