Domestic Assault Attorneys
It goes without saying that Domestic Assault in Minnesota is a serious offense. You should contact North Star Criminal Defense as soon as you can.
Minn. Stat. Sec. 609.2242 defines domestic assault as: “Whoever does any of the following against a family or household member … commits an assault and is guilty of a misdemeanor:
- Commits an act with intent to cause fear in another of immediate bodily harm or death; or
- Intentionally inflicts or attempts to inflict bodily harm upon another.
Because the first one is merely a fear-based assault, often times a domestic assault will stem from an argument that got out of hand and resulted in a person – perhaps even a neighbor – calling the cops.
Family or Household Member
A family or household member is actually defined by the Civil Domestic Abuse Act and includes the following individuals:
- Spouses or former spouses;
- Parents and children;
- Persons related by blood;
- Persons who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past;
- Persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time;
- A man and woman if the woman is pregnant and the man is alleged to be the father, regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time; and
- Persons involved in a significant romantic or sexual relationship.
As you can tell, this is an expansive list and likely includes individuals that may not be commonly thought of as a family or household member.
Level of Offense
A first-time offense is a misdemeanor, subjecting the defendant to a maximum of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. While being sentenced to the maximum jail time and fine is unlikely, it is certainly possible to face some jail time (likely just a couple days or so) and a fine. And if you don’t serve time in jail, you would likely do community service instead.
A second-time offense within ten years of a “qualified domestic violence-related offense” (which will be defined below) is a gross misdemeanor, which carries a maximum of 1 year in jail and a fine of $3,000. The statute lays out a minimum sentence of 20-days in custody, with 96 hours to be served. But, this minimum sentence may be stayed by the court if the defendant completes anger therapy or counseling and follow the recommendations.
A third-time offense within ten years is a felony, carrying a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a fine of $10,000. The likely sentence imposed will be dependent upon the defendant’s criminal history. But, a minimum of 45-days in custody, 15 of which must be served consecutively. There is also a felony level offense for domestic assault by strangulation, which is analyzed separately here.
So, what is a “qualified domestic violence-related offense”? It includes far more than what you probably think. By statute, a conviction of any of the following crimes (or attempt crimes) will enhance any future domestic assaults:
- Violation of a Domestic Abuse Order for Protection
- Murder in the First- or Second-Degree
- First- through Fifth-Degree Assaults
- Domestic Assault
- Female genital mutilation
- Domestic Assault by Strangulation
- First- through Fourth-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
- Malicious Punishment of a Child
- Terroristic Threats (now Threats of Violence)
- Violation of Harassment Restraining Order
- Interference with an Emergency Call
- Violation of a Domestic Abuse No Contact Order (DANCO)
Some of these are obvious crimes that can be used to enhance future domestic assaults. But, some aren’t as obvious, such as any assault – regardless of the relationship of the victim – being used to enhance any future domestic assaults.
Above details the criminal consequences that you may face. But, there are just as severe collateral consequences that must be accounted for in any defense strategy.
First, you will likely receive a Domestic Assault No Contact Order (DANCO) from the Court that is put in place at your first court appearance. Essentially, you shall not make any contact directly or indirectly – for example, through friends, family, or neighbors – with the alleged victim by any form of communication. This means that if the alleged victim attempts to contact you, you cannot answer. The result of having a DANCO issued is that you may have to move from the residence you share with the alleged victim – even if you own the property. This is a burden financially and emotionally, particularly if there are children living in the residence. Any violation of a DANCO is an entirely separate crime.
Second, a domestic assault conviction results in you losing your right to possess any firearms for the next three years. And if a firearm was used at any point during the commission of the domestic assault, it may be summarily forfeited – which means you will have to hand the firearm over to the police, who will destroy it or put it to their own use. In addition to forfeiting the firearm, you will be prohibited from possessing a firearm for a duration of no less than 3-years and potentially for life. A violation of this order is a gross misdemeanor – even on a first-time offense.
Third, you may have to submit to domestic abuse counseling, anger management counseling, or chemical use assessments as ordered by the Court. If you plead to or are convicted of a domestic abuse offense, you will be required by statute to complete domestic abuse counseling – though there are steps you may take to avoid this. And depending on the underlying circumstances of the allegations, the judge or prosecutor may require that you to complete anger management counseling or substance abuse treatment as part of any plea deal or sentence.
Fourth, a domestic assault conviction may impact your current job status or your job hunting. A conviction will show up during any background check. And you will have to disclose it if asked. Moreover, even if you successfully defend the case and get acquitted or the charges dismissed outright, there are still records pertaining to your arrest that are kept by the BCA. These records still may show up on background checks and can hurt your job hunting. You should seriously consider getting these records destroyed or expunged.
Every case is unique – that’s why it’s so important to find a domestic assault attorney that develops a personalized legal strategy for you. But, one of the more common defenses is self-defense, where the alleged victim was the initial aggressor and you only used enough reasonable force to fend off the victim. One significant benefit of the self-defense claim is that the State carries the burden of proving you were not acting in self-defense, meaning the State will then have to prove (1) you committed domestic assault, and (2) you were not acting in self-defense by disproving one of the elements of a self-defense claim.
Alternatively, you may have a non-compliant alleged victim that is a necessary witness for the State in order to prove its side of the he said/she said. You may also have an alleged victim that has changed his or her story. And you may be able to argue that there is reasonable doubt and the State cannot carry it’s significant burden.
These are just some of the defenses available in any given domestic assault. It is crucial that you hire a team of domestic assault attorneys immediately. The sooner you get North Star Criminal Defense involved, the sooner we can go to work on your behalf. Gathering the right evidence to support the self-defense claim or to refute the alleged victim’s story takes time and diligence. Contact North Star Criminal Defense now to get started.
To see just how successful our approach is, here are some representative case results:
Charges: Domestic assault and disorderly conduct
Resolution: Stay of adjudication to the disorderly conduct, with an agreement to expunge the record when eligible. With the client in the midst of a divorce with the alleged victim, obtaining a non-conviction result was critical. Even after obtaining this great result, Mr. Gempeler argued successfully against probation’s recommendations for domestic abuse programming. Instead, the judge credited the client for having completed anger management and did not impose any additional terms of probation. The client is set up to succeed and get back on her feet.
Charges: Misdemeanor Domestic Assaults – two charges
Resolution: Case dismissed on the first day of trial. The State requested a late continuance, which was successfully opposed by Mr. Gempeler. Preparation was key, for not only being trial ready, but also to be able to make the correct arguments opposing an often granted continuance request. Due to the denial, the State could not proceed at trial and the case was dismissed. Mr. Gempeler also wisely laid a record to assist in defeating a potential re-filing of the charges due to bad faith by the State. This was a critical result for a client facing possible deportation with any conviction stemming from these allegations.
Charges: Misdemeanor Domestic Assault
Resolution: Stay of adjudication to a city ordinance violation of disorderly conduct. Client faced his second domestic assault charge in a two-year span involving the same complaining witness. Mr. Gempeler leveraged a possible self-defense claim and information he learned through the complaining witness to obtain this incredible outcome. The client is thrilled to be able to walk away without a criminal record after these two serious allegations were levied against him.
Charges: Domestic Assault
Resolution: Continuance for Dismissal. This remarkable result was obtained even in spite of the fact that the Defendant had a history of felonious behavior with the complaining witness. Yet, after strenuous litigation over the admissibility of a putative confession, and repeated demands for a guilty plea or formal trial, the Court granted Mr. Adkins’ request for a continuance for dismissal, with no findings of fact, and a turnaround of six months–not the typical two years. Client is thrilled; he gets to keep his Second Amendment rights intact, which were of paramount concern to him.