Congdon Law. PLLC.

How Is Domestic Violence Defined In Minnesota?


In order to be charged with a domestic violence offense, as opposed to a regular assault, it needs to be against a family member, household member, somebody that you have a child in common with, or someone with whom you’ve had a sexual relations in the past. Any of those things, even if it’s not currently ongoing, could qualify the person as a family or a household member.

How Serious Are Allegations Of Domestic Violence? Is It A Bondable Offense?

Domestic violence allegations are incredibly serious. You will be eligible for bond or bail in Minnesota, however it is very likely that you will be prohibited from having contact with the person who is the alleged victim, and potentially with any children that you may have in common with that person.

Is An Order Of Protection Or a Restraining Order Automatically Put in Place Once Domestic Violence Charges Are Filed?

A restraining order or order of protection is not automatically put into place. Those are the types of orders that the alleged victim would need to seek from court themselves. However, Minnesota does have a statute that allows a judge to impose what’s called a domestic abuse no contact order. Sometimes it’s referred to as a DANCO. A judge can put these types of orders into place without input from anyone else, and that order would prohibit you from having contact with the alleged victim. It is slightly different than a restraining order or an order for protection. It is certainly possible that the judge could place a domestic abuse no contact order, and the alleged victim could go out and get a restraining order or an order of protection for themselves as well. It is possible to end up with two restrictive orders against you.

How Is A Domestic Violence Charge Determined To Be Either A Misdemeanor Or A Felony?

Most first-time offenses will be misdemeanors, but what it really boils down to is the level of harm or injury that is inflicted upon another person. If this is a first offense, and the person is injured, requiring stitches or hospitalization, that is going to be a felony. If there are no injuries, or the injuries are minimal, if it’s a first offense that may be a misdemeanor. If you have prior conviction for domestic assault, or any type of assault on your record, those are going to enhance the current charge to a higher level. If you have a prior conviction for domestic assault within 10 years, and it’s your second one, it’s going to be a gross misdemeanor. If it’s your third offense within 10 years, it’s going to be charged as a felony regardless of the level of harm.

Does An Alleged Victim Actually Need To Be Injured For Charges To Be Made?

An alleged victim does not need to be injured for charges to be made. Minnesota has two different types of assaults. One is assault for causing actual harm or attempting to cause harm, and the other one is just causing fear of harm. You do not actually have to lay a hand on another person in order to be charged with assault. You can just be charged with causing them fear of harm, and that’s going to be punished the same way as a harm assault.

What Are The Penalties Associated With A Domestic Violence Conviction?

There is a range of penalties for domestic violence, depending on the actual charge. For a misdemeanor, the maximum would be 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000.00 fine. If it’s a 5th degree domestic violence assault that’s charged as a felony, the maximum punishment is up to 5 years in prison and/or a $10,000.00 fine. If it’s a really significant level of harm, you could be facing 20 years in prison. It’s very dependent on the level of harm and the level of crime that is charged. Aside from going to jail, you may be placed on probation and have to comply with anger management classes or domestic abuse classes. You definitely will have to surrender any firearms or weapons you have, and you will be prohibited from having any of those things in your possession as well.

What Is The Role Of Evidence And Witnesses In A Domestic Violence Case?

Independent witnesses play a huge role in these types of cases. If independent witnesses exist, it becomes much more difficult to win a case, because this person who is a witness is detached, and doesn’t necessarily have any reason to lie. If there are no independent witnesses, and it is just a he-said-she-said type of case, then it falls more to what kind of evidence is there. Did the client give a statement? Generally, it is never a good idea to give a statement to the police, because they will use that against you at every opportunity. Are there physical marks on the other person that the police will take photos of or make a record of that could be used against you? All of those things play a significant role in the strength of a prosecutor’s case. If those things don’t exist, then the case may not be as strong as the state would want it to be. They are just relying on the word of the other person, which is enough for a charge to be brought, but it’s not necessarily the overwhelming evidence needed for a conviction.

For more information on Domestic Violence In Minnesota, 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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