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Domestic Assault

Domestic Assault Law in Minnesota

Domestic Assault Attorney Thomas C. Gallagher’s guide to Minnesota domestic assault laws.

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

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

A love-triangle

Domestic Assault Attorney Thomas Gallagher defended a client; one of two male college roommates fighting. But they were fighting over a girlfriend.

And then 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 domestic crimes that all contain a relationship element.

So in other words, a domestic crime requires that the accused and the witness had that type of relationship.  And examples of these include misdemeanor domestic assault cases. 

As a result, 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 do require a relationship.  And examples of these include misdemeanor fifth-degree assault, disorderly conduct and obstructing legal process.

So 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.

Enhancement elements for felonies

Minnesota statutes allow prosecutors to “enhance” charges to a felony level in some situations.

If the defendant has prior “qualified domestic violence-related offense” convictions within ten years; the prosecutor can allege that as an element to prove felony domestic assault.

But Attorney Thomas Gallagher has got dismissal of felony domestic charges, based on priors.

And another common tactic for prosecutors is the new and questionable felony domestic assault – strangulation charge. It allows prosecutors to enhance otherwise misdemeanor-level cases to a felony; with the flimsiest evidence of incidental neck touching or the like.

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

Domestic Assault Attorney: Defending against domestic criminal charges

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.  So, 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.  And more than one year is a felony.  Thirty-one to 365 days is a gross misdemeanor.  Or, up to 90 days is a misdemeanor. Your domestic assault attorney can help you understand and avoid these penalties.

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

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

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

Collateral consequences

Government solutions: destroy the relationship, destroy the family

The biggest penalty is the criminal conviction record.  And 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.  And if you multiply annual income reduction by future working years; the dollar-amount is huge.

Destruction of marriage and the family:  So these cases tremendously stress the defendant, the witness, and the entire family.

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

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

Are you an alleged victim wanting the No Contact Order dropped?

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

Call Domestic Assault Attorney Thomas Gallagher

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

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