Under Minnesota law, domestic assault (Minn. Stat. 609.2242) is an assault against a family member or another member of the defendant’s household.
The penalty for domestic assault is greater if there is a previous domestic assault conviction.
Minnesota will also punish those who violate protective orders. Judges may grant these orders to people (sometimes called “protected persons”) who don’t want contact with someone they believe is a danger to them.
Domestic Assault Defined
People can commit domestic assault in the following ways:
- Causing harm to a family or household member.
- Trying to cause harm to a family or household member.
- Committing any act causing the fear of injury or harm.
A husband and wife arguing is a common way domestic assaults start.
Even if one only raises a fist at the other, a domestic assault can still occur. After all, this action caused fear that the other spouse would strike. Oftentimes, a defendant faces both charges: causing bodily harm and causing fear of harm.
Who is a Family or Household Member?
Under domestic assault laws, family and household members include:
- those related by blood
- Roommates or ex-roommates
- individuals who have kids together
- relationships between pregnant women and fathers of their unborn children.
Penalties for Domestic Assaults in Minnesota
Domestic assault may also be a gross misdemeanor in Minnesota. Ultimately, offenders face up to one year in jail and a fine of $3,000.
If an assault involves suffocating, the charge will increase to a felony.
A charge of domestic assault will often include a pre-sentence investigation.
This looks for previous domestic assaults and restraining orders. The state may request the offender attend a domestic violence program. Likewise, the offender might have to receive drug and alcohol treatment.
Domestic Assault Convictions
In Minnesota, law enforcement officers can arrest anyone involved in a domestic assault. However, there must be probable cause. They also have the right to arrest anyone they believe has violated an order of protection.
It is not unusual for people to experience disagreements. Especially when they are family members who live together. Some arguments can become physical and escalate into a legal issue.
Therefore, if you’re involved in a domestic assault, you could end up facing charges. Even if you feel haven’t committed a crime. Remember, this serious offense can have serious consequences. Especially if you do not have an attorney.
Ringstrom Law has won misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors, and felony domestic assault cases.
Levels of Domestic Assault
Minnesota considers domestic assault to be an enhanceable offense.
If found guilty of domestic assault, any future charges within a window of time can be “enhanced”. This means that you could face more severe punishments.
There are three levels of domestic assault in Minnesota.
Occurs when it is a first-time offense and there have been no convictions on record in the past ten years.
If an offender has one prior domestic violence conviction in the past ten years.
Occurs when there are two or more domestic violence convictions in the past ten years.
Domestic Assault by Strangulation
A specific type of felony domestic assault—by strangulation—is defined under Minnesota Statute 609.2247.
This is the act of blocking blood flow or breathing by applying pressure on someone’s neck or throat.
Assaults that include strangulation are felonies. In such a case, there is no need for prior convictions to elevate the charge to a felony. Punishment for this charge may include up to three years in prison and a fine up to $5,000.
Protective Orders Issued in Domestic Assault Cases
Anyone can petition the court for a protective order, also referred to as a no-contact order.
These orders require the alleged offender to stay away and not to contact a specific person. The courts will hold a hearing to issue the no-contact order.
In domestic assault cases, judges can issue no-contact orders. This happens at the defendant’s arraignment or bail hearing. The law calls this a domestic abuse no-contact order (DANCO).
Once domestic assault charges exist, a judge can issue a DANCO with these conditions:
- The defendant cannot stalk, harass, or threaten the protected person(s).
- All other forms of contact with the protected person(s) must be cut off.
- There will be no contact the protected person(s) through others.
- The defendant cannot go to the house of the protected person(s), or to other specified locations. Although there sometimes exceptions if a a police escort is present.
A DANCO order is different than an a condition of release. Sometimes, a defendant cannot contact their victim as a condition of their release. Posting unconditional bail can avoid this. However, posting of cash or bond does not invalidate a DANCO.
A defense attorney can argue against the issuance of a DANCO. We have successfully argued at bail hearings that DANCOs not be issued.
Violating a DANCO in Minnesota
It is a separate crime in Minnesota to violate a DANCO. Sometimes, violating a DANCO can occur for communicating with a spouse about childcare. Violation of a DANCO can be a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony levels:
- Misdemeanor: The defendant is aware of a DANCO issued against him or her and violates the order.
- Gross misdemeanor: The violation of a DANCO occurs within 10 years of as prior offense.
- Felony: The defendant has two or more prior offenses and violates a DANCO within 10 years. Alternately, the defendant violates a DANCO while in the possession of a weapon.
Ex Parte Order in Domestic Assault
There are certain circumstances where Minnesota judges will grant a temporary protective order.
The law refers to this as an “ex parte” order for protection. A judge may grant this order when the petitioner feels they are in danger. Therefore, ex parte orders prevent the offender from committing domestic abuse or assault.
These orders may contain conditions like the following:
- The offender cannot attend the petitioner’s workplace or home.
- The petitioner’s insurance coverage must continue.
- The petitioner gets temporary possession of any pets.
- An ex parte order will remain in effect for a set amount of time determined by the judge.
Punishment for Domestic Assault in Minnesota
At the misdemeanor level, it is punishable by up to 90 days in jail with a possible fine of $1,000. Importantly, when there is strangulation involved, the sentence is three years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
Enhancements to Domestic Assault Charges
Minnesota allows for enhancements of new domestic assault charges. This includes gross misdemeanors or even a felony if there are violence-related convictions. Qualifying violence-related domestic convictions include:
- Violation of an order for protection
- First or second-degree murder
- Criminal sexual conduct (except fifth-degree)
- Malicious punishment of a child
- Violation of a DANCO (a domestic abuse no-contact order)
- Terroristic threats
- Sending sexual images without consent
- Violation of a harassment restraining order
- Interference with a 911 call
- Any similar domestic violence-related law from states other than Minnesota
If the offender has one prior conviction of this type, the penalty is up to one year in jail, with a $3,000 fine. Additionally, offenders with two or more convictions will face up to five years in prison with a fine of $10,000.
Firearm Consequences Related to Domestic Assault Conviction
If convicted, the court will order the offender to give up the firearm used in the crime. Additionally, the state can stop the offender from owning a firearm in the future.
If violated, you face up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $3,000. This type of violation is a gross misdemeanor offense. Firearm prohibitions may include pistols, rifles, or both.
Importantly, owning firearms for hunting is vital for many Minnesota residents.
If you are facing the loss of owing a firearm, call us. The attorneys at Ringstrom Law can work to restore your rights.
Other Collateral Consequences for Domestic Assault
In addition to prison time, fines, and firearm-related consequences, there are other consequences. These may include, counseling, community service, probation, alcohol monitoring, and anger management. (As of August 2020, the law caps most probation terms in Minnesota at five years.)
Defending a Domestic Assault Charge
Defending domestic assault charges in Minnesota requires knowledge of the court system. Likewise, you must have an attorney that can win at trial. Ringstrom Law Attorneys have won many domestic assault cases. Contact us today.
There are several defenses that can be successful in domestic assault cases, such as:
- defense of another person
- mental illness or deficiency
- false allegations
- necessity (the accused had no choice but to break the law in order to avoid a far worse harm)
“He Said, She Said” Cases
It is not an uncommon that only the accused and the victim were witnesses to the assault. Moreover, this results in a “he said, she said” case.
Thus, we examine witnesses, criminal records, and prior accusations. (The victim’s history is not always allowed at trial, but it can still be relevant in crafting a defense strategy.)
As a result, it important to start finding witnesses and evidence right away. Give us a call to start building your defense.
Find a Domestic Assault Attorney Near Me
These charges can affect your life profoundly in the short term as well as have far-reaching consequences on your future.
When you’re charged with this type of crime, it is critical to have the right legal team working for you. If you have been charged with a Minnesota domestic assault, contact Ringstrom Law at 218-284-0484 in order to protect your future and your rights against these very serious charges. Planning a defense strategy as soon as possible will give you a much better chance of a positive outcome. Call today to discuss building your defense against the domestic assault charges you face.