Domestic Assault Law in Minnesota
By Thomas C. Gallagher, Domestic Assault Attorney
In Minnesota, the most commonly charged domestic violence crime is domestic assault. But others include criminal charges of violating a restraining order based on relationship.
The law defines a “domestic” relationship broadly in Minnesota, 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 charged the roommates with domestic assault.
The relationship element
Minnesota law creates several crimes that contain a relationship element. In other words, a domestic crime did not happen unless the accused and the witness had that specific type of relationship. Examples of these include misdemeanor domestic assault cases. 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 crimes charged in domestic-related cases that do not contain a relationship element. Instead, the prosecutor charges a non-domestic crime along with, or instead of, crimes that require proof of 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 specific, narrow definition. Or people might be speaking loosely about any case where the people have a relationship history. For more about these laws, see Minnesota Domestic Crime Statutes.
Defending against domestic criminal charges
Defense of domestic criminal cases should include strategies to aggressively defend every person, in any case.
Yet the relationship element creates unique risks and opportunities. 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 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
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.
The level of the charge depends upon the maximum possible.
Probation is a Stay of Imposition of Sentence, or Stay of Execution of Sentence. Felony probation 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 and following recommendations; and no contact with the victim.
The biggest penalty is the criminal conviction record. It triggers several harsh consequences. But a good domestic assault attorney can help you avoid them.
Reduction in annual family income: The biggest is the loss of family income and job opportunities. Multiply annual income reduction by future working years, and the dollar-amount is huge.
Question about a Minnesota Domestic Assault case? Call Domestic Assault Attorney Thomas Gallagher at 612 333-1500
Destruction of marriage and the family: These cases cause tremendous stress on the defendant, the witness, and the whole family.
Along 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. This is another government over-reach, especially for most defendants with only one incident or no felonies. For more on this topic, check our deeper look: Civil Rights to Firearms After a Misdemeanor Domestic Crime Conviction in Minnesota.
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.