What Happens When You’re Charged with MN Domestic Assault?
Minnesota has some very tough assault laws on the books, some of the toughest in the entire country. That’s why if you’ve been charged with domestic assault, you may be looking at some serious consequences.
If you’ve been charged with domestic assault, you may have a lot of questions. Here’s what you need to know.
What Is Domestic Assault?
In Minnesota, assault is defined as purposefully inflicting or trying to inflict bodily harm on someone else—or acting in a way that purposefully places them in fear of bodily harm or death. It becomes domestic assault when this is perpetrated against a member of the household or family member.
Family or household members are defined by law to be:
- Anyone you are related to by marriage or blood
- Former spouses
- Current spouses
- Anyone with whom you have lived or currently live
- Anyone with whom you are involved in a sexual or significant relationship
- Anyone with whom you share a child
- Pregnant women and the father of their unborn baby
Do Victims Press Charges?
In Minnesota, domestic assault can only be charged if an act of physical harm or threats of harm were made to someone in the household or someone who is a family member.
Even though the victim of this crime may call the police to the scene to intervene, they are not the party who ultimately brings charges against the perpetrator of this crime. In fact, victims have no authority to bring or even drop charges for domestic assault.
Police who arrive on the scene will decide based on statements and evidence if they have probable cause to arrest someone for domestic assault. After that, the prosecutor assigned to the case will decide whether or not charges should be brought against the accused.
If they proceed, then the process unfolds in the Minnesota court system, where defendants are allowed to defend themselves against the charges.
What Are the Possible Penalties for Domestic Assault?
Misdemeanor and Gross Misdemeanor
For anyone convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, you can spend up to three months in jail and be responsible for fines of $1,000.
Gross misdemeanor charges come into play when someone has a criminal history involving domestic assault within the past 10 years. For gross misdemeanor domestic assault, you can spend up to 12 months in jail and be responsible for fines of as much as $3,000.
Felony domestic assault is often charged if strangulation was involved in the case. It can also be charged as a felony if:
- Weapons were involved
- There are prior domestic assault convictions on the criminal record of the defendant
- Death was caused by the defendant’s actions
For those with at least two previous domestic assault convictions over a ten-year period, it can result in up to five years in prison. If a weapon or significant bodily harm were involved, then up to 20 years in prison can be sentenced. For death, first- or second-degree murder can be charged, which can result in life in prison.
Charges of domestic assault are serious and a conviction is something everyone should try their best to avoid. It’s vital to understand the charges against you and what rights you have in the court process if you are facing charges like these.
About the Author:
Andrew T. Poole is a Minnesota native who has served in the Army for more than 18 years and is currently a JAG lawyer in the Army Reserves in addition to serving as a partner at LaCourse, Poole & Envall. He has handled thousands of criminal and family law cases over the course of his career and has a firm belief that all hardworking Minnesotans should be entitled to the best possible legal counsel. Mr. Poole boasts a 10/10 Superb rating on Avvo, is Lead Counsel rated, and has been recognized multiple times by SuperLawyers, National Trial Lawyers, and others for his work.