Disagreements between family members can happen at times. However, if these arguments become physical, harmful or life-threatening, they may result in serious legal repercussions. According to the State laws of Minnesota, individuals involved in aggravated domestic disputes may have to face domestic assault charges with tough consequences.
Domestic assault in Minnesota is considered a serious offense because victims are subjected to prolonged psychological trauma due to the violence. Law enforcement officers have the right to arrest any individual who they believe has committed any kind of domestic violence.
Having said that, let’s understand more about domestic assault charges in Minnesota.
How Is Domestic Assault Defined in Minnesota?
The Statues of Minnesota define domestic assault as an act that inflicts bodily harm/death or attempts to intentionally inflict bodily harm/death against a family member. A simple domestic assault without serious/life-threatening consequences is considered a misdemeanor. However, a domestic assault that involves strangulation is considered a felony.
Also, the law defines a family/household member as any one of the following:
- Spouse, former spouse, parents, and children
- People related by blood
- People living together or who have lived together in the past
- Couples having a child in common regardless of their marital status or history of living together
- Couples involved in a significant sexual relationship
What Are Qualified Domestic Violence Offenses in Minnesota?
The State laws of Minnesota consider the following as domestic violence offenses:
- Violation of a domestic abuse Order for protection (OFP)
- Violation of a domestic abuse no-contact order
- First and second degree murder
- First through fifth degree assault
- Domestic assault and domestic assault by strangulation
- First through fourth degree criminal sexual misconduct
- Malicious punishment of a child
- Terroristic threats
- Harassment, violation of a harassment restraining order, and stalking
- Interference with an emergency call
What Are the Penalties for Domestic Assault in Minnesota?
A person convicted for domestic assault may have to face consequences beyond the typical penalties of an assault. They are as follows:
- Charges of Misdemeanor or Felony
When a domestic assault is considered a misdemeanor, penalties may include up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1000. In case of a felony, domestic assault may include one to three years of jail term and/or fines of up to $5000.
The above-mentioned penalties are levied on first-time offenders. If the offender has sustained more than one domestic-violence-related conviction within the last 10 years, he/she may be charged with a gross misdemeanor. Also, if the offender has two other qualified convictions within the last 10 years of a third offense, he/she may be charged with a felony.
Furthermore, for a second-time offense, the penalty includes one year of jail term and/or fines of up to $3000. The third and subsequent offenses will include a jail term of up to five years and/or fines up to $10,000.
- Protection Orders
Protection orders are also associated with penalties of domestic assault. Violating them may result in additional penalties. An individual can request a protection order or no-contact order at any point in time. However, these orders are necessarily issued upon a domestic assault arrest or conviction.
The order may take up to 14 days from the date of issue to come into effect. The court decides if a permanent order is required depending on the severity of the case details. If granted, these orders may be valid for up to two years and can be renewed thereafter.
A protection order is used to prohibit the offender from:
- Committing domestic abuse against a family member, the petitioner, or pets
- Staying/using the victim’s house, workplace, and common surrounding areas
- Contacting the petitioner/victim
In some cases, protection orders may also require the offender to provide the following:
- Pay for child or spousal support
- Forgo child custody and visitation rights
- Give up custody of pets
- Provide uninterrupted insurance coverage for the petitioner
- Pay restitution
- Attend marriage counseling/mental health treatment
The violation of a protection order is considered a misdemeanor. The penalties for this offense may include a jail term of up to 90 days and fines of up to $1000. Bonds may also be imposed at $10,000 upon the defendant’s arrest. The severity of penalties may increase if the accused violates the protection order within 10 years of being convicted for domestic violence.
- Loss of Gun Rights
According to the laws of Minnesota, the person who has been convicted for domestic violence may lose the right to have a gun. If a weapon was used during the domestic assault, it is compulsorily forfeited. However, owning a gun even after seizing the rights to own one will result in severe penalties that include a jail term of up to one year and fines of up to $3000.
How Are Offenders Arrested in Issues of a Domestic Assault?
The laws of Minnesota allow peace officers to arrest the accused without a warrant at any place, including his/her residence.
This can be done if the officer believes that the person accused has committed a domestic assault in the last 24 hours. It is not necessary that the officer witnesses the assault for the arrest to be made.
Furthermore, the officer can proceed with a warrantless arrest if he/she believes that an assault, violation of a domestic assault no-contact order or violation of an OFP has occurred.
When Should You Contact a Domestic Assault Lawyer for Legal Help?
A domestic assault charge can negatively impact the offender’s professional life, personal reputation, finances, and living conditions. It is best to get help from a domestic assault lawyer to fight these charges because they may be able to help you in the following ways:
- Analyze and review the domestic assault charges imposed
- Clarify doubts and explain available legal options to drop/minimize the charges
- Evaluate the charges thoroughly and identify/secure any possible evidence that may help
- Build an effective defense strategy
It is important to understand that every case is different as they involve several different details. Though a domestic assault lawyer will offer the best representation possible and try to get the charges dropped, the final outcome depends on the severity of the case and the evidence presented to the jury. Based on these aspects, your lawyer will try his/her best for the best result, including a reduced penalty and fines.
It is necessary that you protect your rights if you have been charged with domestic violence. Seeking legal help can minimize penalties to a great extent.
The experienced lawyers at Carlson & Jones P.A. will plan and present your case facts in the most favorable manner to obtain positive results.