Domestic Assault in Minnesota: What It is and What It Means for the Accused

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that the courts in Minnesota saw more than 27,000 cases of domestic violence in 2011. Meanwhile, throughout the United States, there are more than 20,000 phone calls to domestic abuse hotlines every single day.

In any close relationship, emotions run high, especially in the event of an argument or divorce. Unfortunately, this can lead to exaggerated or even false claims of domestic violence, which must be taken seriously given those statistics. The state can’t allow a potential victim to go unprotected if he or she needs that help, which is why each case of domestic abuse is carefully examined.

Every situation is different, but first, it helps to know how domestic assault is defined in Minnesota.

The Domestic Abuse Act in Minnesota

Minnesota Statute 518B.01 defines domestic abuse as violence or the threat of violence committed against someone in the family or the household. This includes:

“…physical harm, bodily injury, or assault; the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, or assault; or terroristic threats, criminal sexual conduct, or interference with an emergency call.”

Family members or household members include people you’re living with, of all ages, whether married or not or related by blood or not, as well as the person with whom you share a child, born or in utero, and a former or current romantic or sexual partner.

Domestic Assault Charges

Domestic assault can be a misdemeanor, a felony, or somewhere in between.

  • Misdemeanor Domestic Assault: This charge follows an act that was intended to instill fear in the victim of an act that causes bodily harm. Even the attempt to cause harm can result in a misdemeanor charge.
  • Gross Misdemeanor Domestic Assault: The defendant could be found guilty of a gross misdemeanor if he or she commits a second act as described above within 10 years of the first offense. This can result in up to a year in jail and/or a fine of $3,000.
  • Felony Domestic Assault: If you already have two or more convictions for previous qualified domestic violence-related offenses within 10 years, you will likely face a felony charge, with punishments of up to five years in jail and/or a fine of $10,000.

Of course, if the violence escalates to the point of severe injury or death, you could face more severe punishments. First-degree assault includes violence leading to great bodily harm (or the use of deadly force against police officers and other officials). This can result in up to 20 years in jail and/or a fine of $20,000. Using a dangerous weapon or a firearm to commit the assault can also mean longer jail sentences and higher fines. If the domestic assault causes the death of the victim, you could be looking at first or second-degree murder charges.

Being Accused of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can be directed toward men as well as women, so both men and women could find themselves accused of domestic assault. Whether or not you actually committed the assault, you need expert legal guidance.

If you didn’t commit the assault, we’ll uncover the truth and present it to the judge so you can get back to your life. In the event that the victim’s injuries were a result of you defending yourself against his or her violence, we will work to prove the circumstances of that unfortunate situation.

Even if you are guilty of domestic assault, the severity of the charge or the associated punishments might be lessened when all the details of the case come to light. This could mean a difference of years in jail and thousands of dollars. You owe it to yourself to fight for the best possible outcome, and that’s what we’ll do for you.

If you’ve been accused of domestic assault, contact Rogosheske, Rogosheske & Atkins. Call our St. Paul office today at 651-451-6411 to discuss the details of your case with one of our experienced attorneys.