Congdon Law. PLLC.

Can The Prosecution Use Past Instances Of Domestic Violence In a Case?


There is a specific statute in Minnesota that allows a prosecutor to bring up a defendant’s past history with domestic violence. It is not limited to just domestic violence against the current accuser—it could be anyone in that person’s past, even if it’s several years old, which could potentially be brought up against a defendant in a prosecution. There are rules as to what can be allowed, and what notice we need to have, but in general the court will allow that type of evidence into a prosecution.

What Should Someone Do After Being Charged With Domestic Violence?

Even before charges are filed, if you find yourself in a situation where a family or a household member has called the police and is accusing you of assault and the police are there, they are going to want to talk to you to get your side of the story. It’s important that you do not talk to the police. Whatever the reporting party is saying, they are going to take that as the truth. Anything that you say which is contrary to that is going to be considered a lie, and they are just going to use that against you moving forward. It makes my job as your lawyer much more difficult when I have to work with a statement that was given to the police, certainly under circumstances where the client is under stress, or being pressured by the police.

The first thing to do, before you are even charged, is to not give a statement. Once you’ve been charged, you still don’t need to give a statement to the police. It’s much better if we can control the message from the defense side, rather than having the police in possession of a statement that we can no longer control. The next step would be to continue not speaking to the police. Do not attempt to make contact with the person that is making accusations against you. Don’t try to convince them to drop charges. You may be seen as witness tampering, and that can just escalate into other issues. If there is any social media documentation of what happened, if the person posted on Facebook, bring that to your lawyer’s attention right away. This way, your lawyer can get screenshots or subpoena the records from Facebook to prove or to preserve what the other person is saying about the incident.

Of course, do not post on any social media site about what happened. This will become a statement that you will be locked into in the future, and that will be used against you by the prosecutor.

What Are The Long Term Effects Of Having A Domestic Violence Conviction On Record?

Having a conviction for domestic violence is even more problematic than having a regular assault conviction, particularly if you are doing background checks for an employment situation. An employer is going to see that, and will most likely think twice about hiring you. Federal law will prohibit you from possessing any firearms. Even if it were a misdemeanor, it would be for an extended period of time, potentially a lifetime ban on possessing firearms. This means that you can’t hunt and you can’t have a firearm for personal protection. None of that is an option anymore. Even without these consequences, just the long term effect of having a criminal record is not something that people want to have.

What Kind Of Defense Strategies Can Be Used In These Cases?

Self-defense can be a viable defense strategy. It’s a very fact dependent defense, and in those situations, it’s important to have a lawyer on board as soon as possible. This way, they can speak to any potential witnesses or preserve evidence such as social media postings and things of that nature. In some cases, if alcohol or drugs were involved, intoxication can be an option as a defense as well, but that is extremely limited in the types of cases that would apply to.

Why Is It Critical To Retain An Experienced Attorney To Handle A Domestic Violence Case?

It’s important to have an attorney that is experienced in handling domestic violence offenses for numerous reason. First of all, you need to feel comfortable throughout these proceedings. Second, your attorney understands not only the rules and laws that dictate what evidence can be used against you, but an attorney also understands the long term consequences of having a domestic violence type conviction on your record—whether for employment, or for your Second Amendment firearm rights. If you have an inexperienced attorney, something could be easily overlooked and then you are stuck with the consequence forever. It’s very hard to undo. Having somebody who is experienced means that the attorney is going to be looking out for everything that could go wrong, not just the big things, but also all the little things that may have an impact on your life.

Additional Information About Domestic Violence Cases In Minnesota

Domestic violence cases are considered enhance-able offenses. The first one is generally considered to be a misdemeanor, the second one in 10 years is a gross misdemeanor, and the third in 10 years is a felony. These types of convictions also include things that are not termed as domestic violence. It could also be interfering with a 911 call. It could be threats of violence, or having a terroristic threat charge against you. It could be just an assault against a stranger that could be used to enhance a charge to a higher level. These are all very important things to keep in mind and make sure that your attorney understands, so they can advise you not only on what’s happening to you in your current case but also in any potential future cases. This way, you are not putting yourself in a tough position if you are charged again in the future.

For more information on Past Incidents Of Domestic Violence, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (651) 314-9620 today.

Jennifer Congdon, Esq.

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