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Domestic Assault

Domestic Assault Law in Minnesota


By Thomas C. Gallagher, Domestic Assault Attorney

In Minnesota, the most commonly domestic violence charge is domestic assault.  But others include criminal charges of violating a restraining order based on relationship.

Minnesota law defines a “domestic” relationship broadly, in ways that defy common sense.

For example, Domestic Assault Attorney Thomas Gallagher defended a client where two male college roommates were fighting over a girlfriend.  The prosecutor charged the client with “domestic assault” against the rival.  But under the narrower, federal relationship definition, prosecutors could not have done so.

The relationship element

Minnesota law creates several crimes that contain a relationship element.  In other words, a domestic crime requires that the accused and the witness had that type of relationship.  Examples of these include misdemeanor domestic assault cases.  So, a domestic assault attorney could win your case where evidence of the required relationship is lacking.

Other crimes where parties are related

We also see criminal charges in domestic-related cases that do not contain a relationship element.  So, the prosecutor charges a non-domestic crime along with, or instead of, crimes that require a relationship.  Examples of these include misdemeanor fifth-degree assault, disorderly conduct and obstructing legal process.

When we speak of a domestic or family violence cases, we could mean the accusation fits the narrow, legal definition.  Or people might be speaking loosely about any case where the people have a relationship.  For more about these laws, see Minnesota Domestic Crime Statutes.

Defending against domestic criminal charges

Hera, Queen of the Greek Gods, Goddess of marriage and childbirth
Hera, Queen of the Greek Gods, Goddess of marriage and childbirth

Defense of domestic criminal cases should include strategies to aggressively defend every person.

Yet the relationship element creates unique risks and opportunities.  So, you can benefit from an experienced domestic assault attorney.

Counseling the client is more important in these cases.  For example, what should the accused do in response to the court’s No Contact Order?  An experienced domestic assault attorney can help with this.

Examples of cases involving claims of domestic violence crime handled by Domestic Assault Attorney Thomas Gallagher include:

  • Felony Domestic Assault, including strangulation claims
  • Misdemeanor Domestic Assault
  • Interference with a 911 Emergency Call
  • Violation of an Order for Protection (OFP), Harassment Restraining Order (HRO)
  • Criminal Sexual Conduct, with relationship element
  • Child Abuse or Neglect

Penalties for conviction

Prosecutors can charge domestic crimes as misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors, or felonies.

The level of conviction depends upon the length of incarceration imposed by the judge.  More than one year is a felony.  Thirty-one to 365 days is a gross misdemeanor.  Up to 90 days is a misdemeanor. Your domestic assault attorney can help you understand and avoid these penalties.

But the level of the charge depends upon the maximum possible.

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Probation is a Stay of Imposition, or Stay of Execution of Sentence.  Felony probation is more common than a prison commitment.  And with a probationary sentence, the defendant can avoid prison by complying with the conditions.

Common conditions in these cases include a domestic violence evaluation, following its recommendations; and no contact with the victim.

Collateral consequences

The biggest penalty is the criminal conviction record.  It triggers harsh consequences.  But a good domestic assault attorney can help you avoid them.

Reduction in annual family income:  A big consequence is the loss of family income and job opportunities.  Multiply annual income reduction by future working years; and the dollar-amount is huge.

Destruction of marriage and the family:  So these cases cause tremendous stress on the defendant, the witness, and the whole family.

And with the No Contact Orders, both pre-trial and as a condition of probation, the government destroys marriages and families.  And this is overkill in the majority of cases.

Lifetime loss of civil rights:  A domestic crime conviction often results in a lifetime loss of civil rights to firearms.  And this is another government over-reach, especially for most defendants with only one incident or no felonies.  So for a deeper look, read our: Civil Rights to Firearms After a Misdemeanor Domestic Crime Conviction in Minnesota.

Your experienced domestic assault attorney can help you understand, prevent and solve these problems.

Are you an alleged victim who wants the No Contact Order dropped?

Read our in-depth look at: How to Get Rid of a Domestic Abuse No Contact Order in Minnesota.

Thomas Gallagher, Domestic Assault Attorney in Minneapolis
Thomas Gallagher, Domestic Assault Attorney in Minneapolis

Question about a Minnesota Domestic Assault case?  Call Domestic Assault Attorney Thomas Gallagher at 612 333-1500