Minnesota Domestic Assault: Misdemeanor or Felony?

Domestic assault is a crime taken very seriously in Minnesota, but there isn’t simply one way it can be committed nor one way it is punished. In fact, the state has a wide range of charges and penalties that can arise from a domestic assault incident.

Here’s what you need to know about domestic assault in Minnesota: what it is, what penalties you can face, and what influences if domestic assault is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.

Domestic Assault in Minnesota

In Minnesota, assault is classified as “trying to cause or intentionally cause bodily harm to another person or perpetrating an act for the purpose of placing another person in fear for their life or of bodily harm”.

Assault becomes domestic assault when it is perpetrated against household members or members of your family including:

  • Spouses
  • Former spouses
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Those to whom you are related by marriage or blood
  • Anyone with whom you share or have shared a dwelling
  • Anyone with whom you are in a significant sexual relationship
  • Anyone with whom you share a child

Domestic Assault Penalties

The penalties for domestic assault depend on if you’re found guilty of a misdemeanor charge of domestic assault or a felony charge of domestic assault.

First Offense Domestic Assault

In many cases, those who are charged and convicted for a first incident of domestic assault will face misdemeanor charges and related penalties.

For a first offense, if you act with the intent to cause fear of bodily harm or death to a member of your family or attempt to or do inflict bodily harm on them, you can face misdemeanor penalties. These could include up to three months in jail and fines of $1,000.

It is possible to be charged with felony domestic assault for a first offense in two circumstances:

  • If strangulation was involved in the incident
  • If the nose and mouth of the victim were obstructed during the act.

The penalty for this level of felony domestic assault depends largely on your criminal record. At a minimum, you can face up to three years in prison and fines of $5,000.

Subsequent Acts of Domestic Assault

If you have been convicted of another domestic violence-related crime in the last 10 years, then you face charges of a gross misdemeanor, which can result in up to 12 months in jail and fines of $3,000.

Anyone with two or more convictions in the last 10 years for domestic violence crimes faces felony charges that can result in a prison sentence of five years.

If weapons are involved in the attack, such as a firearm, the penalty can increase to 10 years in prison. If the victim of the crime sustained great bodily harm, then the sentence can go all the way up to 20 years. The death of a victim can result in murder charges.

Other Penalties

Duluth Domestic Assault Lawyers

It’s not simply a prison sentence or a fine that could be an issue for someone convicted of domestic assault. There are other penalties to consider as well.

For example, a no-contact order may be put in place while charges are pending. This makes it a crime for the defendant to contact the victim or victims named in the order. Violating this can result in another charge on top of domestic assault charges.

There may also be restrictions to owning and purchasing firearms if convicted.


About the Author:

A former Assistant Public Defender for the Sixth Judicial District in Duluth and former staff attorney for the Indian Legal Assistance Program, Brent R. Olson is an experienced trial lawyer who has appeared in every Courthouse in the Sixth Judicial District and taken over three dozen cases to verdict. At LaCourse, Poole & Envall, Mr. Envall focuses on family law, workers’ compensation, and criminal defense. He has a strong belief in restorative justice and helped to develop the Domestic Violence Restorative Circles program.