Domestic Assault Mandatory Sentences

One of the most frustrating parts of our jobs is when we represent clients facing supposed ‘mandatory minimums’ when charged with certain crimes. It is common knowledge in drug offenses. Not so common knowledge is that there are domestic assault mandatory sentences as well for repeat offenders. As always, even though they are ‘mandatory minimum’ sentences, there is some wiggle room with the right approach and understanding of the law.

If a defendant has a “qualified domestic violence-related offense” within the past ten years leading up to the date of the offense, they will face either a gross misdemeanor (if only one prior) or a felony (two priors). Either carries an element of some mandatory custody time.

Outlined in Minn. Stat. 609.2243, a gross misdemeanor offense carries a mandatory minimum of 20-days in custody, with 96 of those hours to be served consecutively. This means, at a minimum, a person must do 4 full days in custody at one time. This mandatory minimum may not be imposed if the Court instead orders the defendant to complete treatment or programming, such as anger management and/or domestic abuse programming. For a second-time offense, this almost automatically means true domestic abuse programming. And because this programming is a typical condition imposed at sentencing, this mandatory sentencing aspect doesn’t necessarily become a major obstacle for defendants.

For felony offenses, the mandatory minimum is 45-days in custody and 15 of those days must be served consecutively. This applies even when the Court stays execution of the larger sentence. Unlike in gross misdemeanor cases, there is no provision that allows the Court to stay imposing this mandatory sentence when a defendant submit to treatment and/or programming.

Despite these being domestic assault mandatory sentences, there is some leeway available. Most notably, the statute even permits deviation in gross misdemeanor cases when a defendants submits to appropriate treatment or programming. Even in felony cases, though, our experience has shown us that the proper approach and openness to treatment and/or programming can lead to plea agreements or sentences below these mandatory minimums.

A full and complete defense strategy to domestic assault charges must account for these mandatory minimums. Understanding these minimums – and whether a prosecutors knows about them or intends to follow them – will impact any strategy. If you are facing the prospect of domestic assault mandatory sentences, you need the right team of lawyers to build your defense strategy and lead you through this maze. Contact us today.