Minnesota has been one of the most progressive states tackling family violence and was the first state to give money to battered women’s shelters. It was also an early adopter of laws specifically criminalizing family violence. When used correctly, those laws help protect families, save lives, and make families safer and healthier for children.
Unfortunately, people can easily weaponize domestic violence laws, but an experienced criminal defense attorney could help those who are accused. Since a conviction for domestic violence can impact people’s rights in custody battles, the ability to own a gun, and access to certain types of employment, it can be a real threat in a problematic relationship. People may allege domestic violence to get an advantage in a divorce or other legal proceedings. When you are facing these allegations, it is essential to seek the help of a Golden Valley domestic violence lawyer.
What is Domestic Violence?
People use family violence, domestic abuse, and domestic violence interchangeably to describe two things. One is any act of physical violence or threats of physical violence by one family member or romantic partner to another. The other definition describes using violence and threats to exercise power and control over people. The danger to victims and perpetrators grows when violence is part of a more extensive campaign of power and control.
Unfortunately, the criminal justice system is ill-equipped to differentiate between a fight that went too far and actual abuse. The result is that some people who face charges are not a continuing danger to their families. In fact, they may be victims, themselves, who finally retaliated after being physically abused.
A domestic violence lawyer in Golden Valley can discuss the situation with a defendant. They may suggest a different approach for a one-time offender or a person who used self-defense than they would for someone with a history of family violence. Given the risk of escalation, a lawyer may suggest a battering intervention and prevention program or other behavior modification therapy for clients with a history of domestic violence offenses.
Penalties for Domestic Violence
Minnesota Statutes § 609.2242 describes domestic assault, and is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to one year in jail. In reality, most first-time offenders do not receive any jail time, which can lull people into a false sense of complacency. While the criminal penalties may not be significant, a domestic violence conviction comes with many other consequences.
For example, a person convicted of domestic assault cannot possess a gun. Many jobs will fire people for domestic violence convictions and it can impact child custody determinations. For non-citizens, a conviction can lead to deportation. Convictions can also damage a person’s reputation, because people look down on spousal and child abusers.
In addition, more severe assaults can lead to longer sentences. Many crimes include other offenses — arson, sexual assault, aggravated assault — along with the domestic assault charge. Therefore, one needs to consult a Golden Valley attorney when facing domestic violence charges.
Holistic Approach to Defense
Some criminal defense attorneys only consider the criminal charges against a defendant. However, the reality is that allegations of domestic abuse impact someone’s life beyond their involvement with the criminal justice system. They can lead to divorce, loss of child custody, depression, and more. If someone is unfairly accused of violence, it is a miscarriage of justice that can go well beyond criminal punishments.
On the other hand, if someone is accurately accused of family violence, reducing or avoiding punishment for the offense does not handle the problem. It is easy to villainize people who abuse their families. However, family violence is sometimes a learned, cyclical behavior.
A Golden Valley domestic violence attorney may be able to help defendant locate resources to help them. Pre-trial diversion into treatment programs can help reduce charges and punishment. They can also help people become safer around their partners and their children.
Call a Domestic Violence Attorney in Golden Valley
Family violence is a complex social, psychological, and legal issue. The criminal justice system only addresses one aspect of the issue — incarceration is unlikely to cure an offender or help the family. A lawyer may be able to help you avoid punishment and connect you with resources that will help you now and in the future. Consult with a Golden Valley domestic violence lawyer who could help you understand your options.