Each state handles domestic violence cases differently, although federal rules and regulations may affect penalties for convicted offenders. If you have been charged with crimes related to domestic violence, read up about Minnesota’s laws in order to defend your case appropriately.
How Does Minnesota Define “Domestic Violence?”
- Spouse or significant other
- Family member, parent, or child
- Roommate or housemate
- Former significant other or spouse
Abuse is the overall term for criminally violent actions. Domestic abuse can include the following acts:
- Causing physical harm or injury
- Causing fear of imminent danger of physical harm or injury
- Terroristic threats
- Criminal sexual conduct
All of these actions are associated with criminal charges that can be brought up in Minnesota state courts. For example, if a person causes physical harm or bodily injury to a stranger, they will be brought up with “regular” assault charges. However, if domestic abuse is present, the alleged offender will be charged with domestic assault.
Not all violent crimes have a separate charge based on domestic abuse. First-degree murder, for example, is charged the same no matter what relationship the victim had with the alleged perpetrator. However, the charge may still be considered a domestic abuse-related crime if the person is charged later with other domestic abuse crimes.
Let’s go over these individual domestic abuse-related crimes, as well as the penalties that come with these specific charges.
Domestic assault is a misdemeanor crime in Minnesota. Offenders convicted of domestic assault could face the following penalties:
- Up to 90 days behind bars.
- A minimum of 20 days behind bars, with 96 hours served consecutively. The minimum jail sentence can only be completed if the offender also completes anger therapy, counseling, or similar treatment.
- Fines of up to $1,000.
Fifth-Degree Assault and Felony Assault
The charges are elevated if the offender has a record of past domestic violence convictions. Minnesota will look for the following past offenses:
- Assault against the same victim within the past 10 years.
- Assault against anyone within the past three years.
If either of these cases are present, the charges are elevated to a gross misdemeanor, and the offender may serve up to one year behind bars.
If both are present, or two instances of the same crime are present, the charges are upped to a five-year felony. Felony crimes come with their own penalties, including the loss of the right to vote while incarcerated.
Domestic Assault by Strangulation
The charges are also elevated if strangulation is present during the assault. Minnesota defines strangulation as “intentionally impeding normal breathing or circulation of the blood by applying pressure on the throat or neck or by blocking the nose or mouth of another person.”
Domestic assault by strangulation is a felony charge that is penalized by up to three years in prison.
Stalking is defined by Minnesota as any actions or conduct that intentionally cause a victim to feel “frightened, threatened, oppressed, persecuted, or intimidated.” These actions could be anything from physically following the person to their home to sending threatening messages through Facebook.
Low-level stalking charges are a gross misdemeanor and can result in up to a year of jail time. If aggravated factors are present, the charges may be elevated to a felony charge.
Aggravating factors include:
- Tampering with the charges or judicial proceeding
- Acting out against the judge, attorney, or person related to the charges
- Stalking with the intention to make an individual feel terrorized or fear imminent bodily harm
- Stalking a victim under the age of 18 (if the perpetrator is at least three years older than the victim)
- Using a deadly weapon
Depending on the type of weapon and its use during the crimes, offenders could spend up to five years in prison.
Violating a Protective Order
A judge can issue a protective order requiring an offender to end contact with a victim or their family. These orders can be in place for a number of years, and they may have specific terms based on the case.
If the perpetrator is found guilty of violating their protective order, they could be charged with a misdemeanor. Increased charges apply if there are previous domestic abuse convictions on their record. In the case where a judge believes the perpetrator will violate the protective order again, the judge may put a $10,000 bond in place. If the offender cannot pay the bond, they will have to stay behind bars until their protection order is over.
Additional Penalties for Domestic Abuse Crimes in Minnesota
Penalties do not stop at jail time and fines. Domestic violence convictions also have federal penalties, even if the crimes are misdemeanors. Offenders must give up any firearms and cannot purchase or use one. This is a ban that is placed on offenders indefinitely. If an offender is caught violating this rule, they could face up to a year in jail.
Other penalties may apply as the judge sees fit:
- Loss of child custody
- Counseling or treatment
There are ways to defend against a domestic abuse charge in Minnesota; reach out to an attorney for more information.
About the Author:
A former prosecutor and lifelong Minnesotan, Christian Peterson has handled hundreds of criminal cases from both sides of the aisle since he began practicing law in 2006, as well as a wide variety of family law matters. This background allows him to look at situations from all angles and anticipate which arguments the other side may use, increasing his clients’ chances of success. His work has been recognized by the American Society of Legal Advocates, the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys, and National Trial Lawyers, and he has a perfect 10/10 rating from Avvo.