Domestic Assault

What is domestic assault?

Domestic violence is one of the most commonly charged offenses throughout Minnesota. Most people equate domestic violence as a fight between a husband and wife. However, the Minnesota statutes set forth a wide range of criminal offenses committed by one family or household member against another. There is no doubt that these charges jeopardize your future liberty, reputation, and relationship with the other party. Some of the implications of a conviction include losing your parental rights, losing contact with your family, and, of course, jail or prison time.

Consequences for these offenses can be far reaching. It may negatively affect your employment, military, or academic status; prohibit you from attending your child’s school or recreational activities; prevent this criminal record from being sealed; and impede your right to own a firearm.

Hennepin County has a dedicated courtroom in their judicial system especially for domestic violence cases. Because there is such a stringent policy against those accused of domestic violence, there is great pressure on police and prosecutors to get results.

What domestic assault offenses can I be charged with?

The law in the State of Minnesota establishes that a domestic violence offense occurs when one family or household member commits any of the offenses listed below against another family or household member:

  • Assault or Aggravated Assault
  • Battery or Aggravated Battery
  • Stalking or Aggravated Stalking
  • Kidnapping
  • False Imprisonment
  • Sexual Assault or Sexual Battery
  • Any offense that results in physical injury or death

What are the potential consequences for domestic assault offenses?

These cases can have many facets. You may be falsely accused of battery by your partner, or a restraining order may have been temporarily ordered against you on the basis of false accusations. In other cases, your domestic partner may not want you prosecuted and wants to remain in contact with you, yet the prosecutor’s office or law enforcement are pursuing charges of domestic violence against you.

Due to the intimate or passionate nature of domestic violence cases, oftentimes alleged victims and the accused will reconcile. However, an accuser cannot have the charges dropped just because he or she refuses to cooperate with the prosecution.

A “no contact” provision or Order of Protection is often used in Minnesota cases of domestic violence. An Order of Protection means that the accused can have no contact with the accuser. This can be complicated if the alleged victim decides to start contacting the accuser on his or her own volition. If this does occur, a legal representative will need to step in and get the “no contact” provision amended.

What are some of the potential punishments for a person convicted of domestic assault?

Domestic violence is a specialized form of assault or battery, and may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The penalties, however, are enhanced, and the consequences are far more serious. Incarceration may be for up to one year in a misdemeanor case, and up to life in a felony case.

You might:

  • Face jail or prison time
  • Be sentenced to probation
  • Face fines
  • Be required to attend a batterers' intervention program
  • Be required to attend substance-abuse treatment
  • Lose your right to carry a firearm
  • Be required to pay restitution
  • Have a permanent criminal record

Like any violent crime, domestic violence can carry a hefty cost in legal and social terms. The greatest impact, though, is at a personal level. These charges can potentially be used as “ammunition” in divorce and child custody hearings. A plea of “guilty” can be just as devastating to a permanent record as a full-blown conviction, and can carry a stigma, including later applications for employment. Additionally, a conviction can prevent the accused from ever legally owning a firearm. These cannot be sealed or expunged once a judgment is made.

What are possible defenses against domestic assault charges?

Just because a person is arrested for domestic violence by the police, it does not necessarily mean that he or she will be convicted or even charged with a crime by the prosecutor. Once we begin to defend or represent a client, it is not uncommon for the charges alleged by the police to be reduced by the prosecutor or even dropped.

Over the years, we have found that many clients are falsely accused by their spouses or family members. There are many reasons that false reports are made in domestic cases. Insecurity, infidelity, financial distress, stress at work and issues relating to children can often form the basis for a false or exaggerated accusation.

We will carefully review the facts and circumstances of each case and personally investigate the evidence that the prosecution has obtained to prosecute the case. With our representation, you can rest assured that we will actively pursue all evidence and witnesses that will assist in obtaining a favorable outcome. Below is a list of potential defenses:

  • Victim Recantation
  • Failure to Read Miranda Warnings
  • Lack of Intent
  • Alibi
  • Mistaken Identity
  • Self Defense
  • Defense of Others
  • Defense of Property

Not just in Minnesota, but in the entire nation, domestic violence cases are subjective. If you are the victim of false or exaggerated accusations, you need a criminal defense lawyer on your side. We can guide you on how to proceed and how to protect yourself. In cases that can lack hard evidence, any shred of doubt is enough to protect you from lies.

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