Domestic violence offenses in Minnesota are unique because in addition to the usual criminal penalties that can be imposed when someone is convicted of a crime, domestic violence offenses also carry several collateral consequences. This can be true even when someone is charged with domestic assault but eventually pleads guilty or is otherwise convicted of some other charge. As a result, it is important that anyone charged with domestic assault have a knowledgeable attorney by their side to ensure that their rights are protected.
In order to be convicted of domestic assault under Minn. Stat. § 609.2242 the victim must be a family or household member of the accused. This means that the alleged victim must have been a spouse or former spouse, parent or child, related by blood, someone who lived with the accused, someone who has a child with the accused, a pregnant woman if the accused is alleged to be the father, or anyone involved in a significant romantic or sexual relationship. If the alleged victim does not fall into one of those categories, you may have a complete defense to the charge.
If the alleged victim does fall into one or more of the above-described categories, a person can be guilty of domestic assault if they do something intending to cause the other to fear immediate bodily harm or death, or if they intentionally inflict or attempt to inflict bodily harm on another. A first offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. If the accused has been convicted of a qualified domestic violence related offense within the last ten years, they will be charged with a gross misdemeanor which is punishable by up to one year in jail and up to $3,000 in fines. In addition, a gross misdemeanor conviction carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 days imprisonment and at least 96 hours must be served consecutively in jail. If the person has two or more qualified domestic violence related offenses within the last ten years, they will be charged with a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Additionally, a felony conviction carries a presumptive sentence of at least 45 days incarceration with at least 15 days served consecutively in jail.
Another type of domestic assault offense in Minnesota is Domestic Assault by Strangulation. A person commits this offense when they intentionally impede the breathing or circulation of a family or household member by applying pressure to their throat or neck, or by blocking their nose or mouth. Family or household member has the same definition as above. Essentially, this crime is committed when someone tries to stop someone, they have a relationship with from breathing. This offense is a felony punishable by up to 3 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines unless another provision of law provides for a greater punishment, such as the penalties for repeat domestic abusers.
In addition to the criminal penalties described above, domestic assault offenses in Minnesota carry several collateral consequences. If a person is convicted of a domestic assault the court may order that the person be prohibited from possessing firearms. Someone who violated the court’s order could be found guilty of an additional gross misdemeanor offense. Additionally, the court could order the person’s firearms to be summarily forfeited. This means that the person’s guns would become the property of the state and they would never be returned.
In addition to the firearm consequences that can result from a domestic assault conviction, a person convicted must also complete an additional evaluation not required for most other offenses. This evaluation is called a presentence domestic abuse investigation. This evaluation can be required even when someone was arrested for domestic assault but eventually plead guilty to a different offense, like disorderly conduct. Following this investigation, most people are recommended for domestic violence programming, which can be months of classes.
Finally, a domestic assault conviction is particularly serious for any non-citizen. These types of offense can carry severe immigration consequences including denial of naturalization, exclusion from the United States, and deportation. A conviction does not need to be a felony in order for these harsh consequences to come into play. As a result, any non-citizen must have a knowledgeable attorney by their side.
In Minnesota domestic assault law is complex and only a knowledgeable attorney should be trusted to competently navigate it and properly advise you. Even if you have not been charged, you need an attorney right away to put you in the best position to avoid the consequences described above. Contact the BK Law Group for a free consultation about your domestic violence case.