Domestic Assault

Under Minnesota law, domestic assault involves assault against a family member or specific others. Punishment for domestic assault is increased if the defendant has a previous conviction on their records for domestic assault. Minnesota will also punish those who ignore protective orders provided for those who do not want contact by someone who is believed to be a danger to them.

Domestic Assault Defined

Domestic assault as a misdemeanor includes:

  • Inflicting bodily injury or harm intentionally
  • An attempt to inflict physical harm
  • Any act which is committed with the intention to cause fear in a victim of being harmed or causing fear that a family member will die

An example of domestic assault would be if a wife and her husband become involved in an argument at their home. Should the husband become upset enough to raise his closed fist towards his wife, but doesn’t actually hit her, it is considered domestic assault. This action falls under domestic assault because the wife has reason to fear her husband will strike her. Domestic assault can be charged with an actual touch or the fear of an act that intends to scare or frighten a victim.

Under domestic assault laws, family and household members include parents, children, spouses, those who are related by blood, those who have lived together, or previously lived together, those who have children together, or those who have a dating relationship. It also includes pregnant women and the men alleged to be the father of the unborn child.

If the domestic assault involves suffocating or strangling, the charge will be considered a felony.

Domestic assault is typically charged as a gross misdemeanor in Minnesota, and offenders can be sentenced with a minimum of twenty days jail time or up to one year in jail. Fines for this offense can go as high as $3,000. A charge of domestic assault will entail an investigation which is known as ‘a pre-sentencing’ and is intended to check for domestic abuse, restraining order, and any other harassment-related crimes on the offender's record. This investigation may require there be an order for the offender to attend batterer's intervention program, or they receive drug and alcohol dependency evaluations or other appropriate actions.

A domestic assault has a specific focus as these crimes have a different effect than the crimes committed between strangers. When a person is a victim of domestic violence, it can include lasting psychological consequences, and the violent acts may have continued over a more extended period of time as they are usually done in private. For these reasons, the courts and police officers have a different view with a different outcome on domestic assault cases.

In Minnesota, a police officer is allowed to arrest anyone they feel has committed any form of domestic violence. They also have the right to arrest anyone whom they believe in having violated an order of protection. They can arrest and hold the offender in jail for up to 36 hours.

If convicted of domestic assault, you are facing a severe criminal offense, even if you are looking at a first-time misdemeanor charge. You need an attorney fighting for your rights who understands and knows Minnesota court systems and its law. Ringstrom Law should be contacted as soon as you are arrested for domestic assault, so a good defense strategy can be started to protect your future.

Levels of Domestic Assault

Minnesota considers domestic assault as an enhanceable offense. Enhanceable means if you are convicted of domestic assault, any future charges and convictions for assault will be qualified domestic violence-related crimes that can be sentenced much harsher. The three levels of domestic assault in Minnesota include:

A charge of domestic assault as a misdemeanor is assigned when it is a first-time offense, and there have been no convictions on the defendant's record in the past ten years. 

Domestic assault is charged as a gross misdemeanor if there is one prior qualifying domestic violence-related conviction in the past ten years on your record. 

Domestic assault is charged as a felony when there are two or more qualifying domestic violence-related convictions on your record within the past ten years. 

It is not unusual for people, especially family members who live together in Minnesota or anywhere to experience disagreements from time to time, and some of those can become serious. Arguments can become threatening, physical, or otherwise harmful, which can quickly turn into a legal issue. If you're involved in a domestic assault, you could be facing domestic assault charges, and this serious offense could have far-reaching consequences if you do not secure experienced legal counsel. Ringstrom Law will be your side with knowledgeable, caring, and professional advice to get you through this legal process. They will work tirelessly to prove your innocence and protect your future.

Other Domestic Assault Crimes in Minnesota

Other domestic assault crimes included under Minnesota laws are:

Domestic assault by strangulation is defined under statute 609.2247 as being the intentional act of impeding the normal circulation of blood or breathing by applying pressure on the neck or throat, or by blocking one's mouth or nose. Unless there is a more significant penalty provided, the offender who assaults a household or family member in this manner will be charged with a felony. Punishment for this charge will include imprisonment for up to three years and a fine up to $5,000. 

Domestic criminal sexual assault is a term that includes the actions or behaviors toward a household or family member without their consent. The actions are defined within each state's law and can differ within different jurisdictions. Common examples of domestic criminal sexual assault include making unwanted bodily contact, forcing one to perform or receive oral sex, forcing one's body parts into the victim's anus, or forced masturbation. 

False imprisonment happens when an offender intentionally restrains another household or family member, so they are not allowed the ability to move freely. It is sometimes referred to as unlawful imprisonment in the first degree. If charged with false imprisonment, it is both a crime and a civil wrong. The act of false imprisonment can happen in a room, in a moving vehicle, or even on the streets. 

Being charged with domestic assault in Minnesota is a serious crime. You want experienced legal counsel on your side to protect your rights and ensure the best possible outcome when going through this challenging court process. Ringstrom Law has the expertise with Minnesota laws and knows its way through the legal process to help you during this difficult time.

Domestic Assault and Protective Orders

A police officer in Minnesota is allowed to make an arrest without a warrant. If they have a reasonable fear or belief, an alleged offender has committed domestic assault (criminal sexual conduct, threats, assault, bodily injury, interference with an emergency call) against a member of their family or another household member; the police can arrest without a warrant in hand.

A police officer in Minnesota must arrest a person, and they can do so without a warrant if they believe the offender has violated a protective order, or what is also known as a no-contact order. You can be held in jail for up to thirty-six hours following this arrest.

Protective Orders Issued in Domestic Assault Cases

Anyone is allowed to petition for a protective order or no-contact order from the courts, and it can require one person (alleged offender) to stay away, or not contact another person (the petitioner). When the petition is made with the courts, it goes into effect for fourteen days. A hearing will be held later to determine if a more permanent protection order should be issued.

It is a crime in Minnesota to violate this order. Household and family members are allowed to file petitions for protective orders, or no-contact orders, in civil court. The child's guardian can petition protective orders for a child. Another person can also file a petition for a protective order if it is in the best interest of the child, and the person is over the age of twenty-five.

When a petition is filed for an order of protection, the court will typically order a hearing within fourteen days. The hearing cannot be scheduled less than five days after the order has been served to the respondent (alleged offender). At the hearing, once the courts have determined domestic assault occurred, it can issue an order:

  • To prohibit the offender from committing further domestic abuse
  • Exclude the offender from entering the petitioner’s home, workplace, or any shared dwelling, or a reasonable surrounding area to any of these places
  • To prohibit the offender from making any form of contact with the petitioner
  • To award temporary custody to the petitioner and visitation of any minor children
  • To award temporary spousal or child support
  • To mandate insurance coverage be continued to the petitioner from the offender
  • To award temporary possession of pets and prohibit the offender from abusing said pets
  • Request counseling services be attended if the petitioner asks for them if the offender and petitioner are married and have children together
  • Request the offender receive treatment or counseling
  • Require the offender to pay restitution to the petitioner for any costs they’ve had to pay
  • To mandate any other form of relief to the petitioner for protection

These orders will remain in effect for up to two years. Courts can extend the order for up to fifty years if the offender continues to be a threat to the petitioner.

Ex Parte Order in Domestic Assault

There are circumstances when a judge is able to grant a temporary protective order before a full hearing is held. The offender will not receive a notice and will not be present when the judge issues the order. This action is known as 'ex parte' orders. These orders are granted by the judge when the petitioner alleges there is an immediate danger of domestic assault. Ex Parte orders are able to:

  • Prevent or prohibit the offender from committing domestic abuse or assault, as well as from contacting the petitioner
  • Exclude the offender from the petitioner’s workplace or home
  • Enforce the offender to continue the petitioner’s insurance coverage
  • Give temporary possession of any pet to the petitioner to prevent or prohibit the offender from abusing said pets

The Ex Parte Order will only remain in effect for a set amount of time. The time set is until the hearing is held.

No Contact Order with Domestic Assault Cases

Minnesota laws also allow for a civil court judge to issue a 'no-contact' order in addition to the protective order. This order can be put into place any time during a criminal proceeding in domestic assault cases. The 'no-contact' order will prohibit the offender from contacting the petitioner and violating any protective order, and if violated, this violation will be considered a misdemeanor.

Punishment for Domestic Assault in Minnesota

Minnesota Statutes 609.03, 609.2242, and 609.2247 cover punishments for domestic assault, which is punishable for up to ninety days in jail with a possible fine up to $1,000. If there is suffocation or strangulation involved, sentencing can be increased to up to three years in prison with up to $5,000 in fines.

If an offender has a previous conviction on their file for either simple assault or domestic assault in Minnesota or anywhere else, and are arrested again, a conviction will bring about a more severe punishment. This sentencing will also apply if the offender has a domestic violence-related offense against the victim within the past ten years. It also applies if there a violence-related offense to 'anyone' within the past three years.

Minnesota allows for domestic assault charges to be enhanced to a gross misdemeanor or even a felony if there are qualifying violence-related domestic convictions on an offender's record. These qualifying violence-related domestic convictions include:

  • Violation of domestic abuse OFP (Order of Protection)
  • Harassment Restraining Order (HRO)
  • Domestic Abuse No Contact Order (DANCO)
  • First or second-degree murder
  • First, second, third, fourth, of fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct
  • Malicious punishment of a child
  • Terroristic threats
  • Stalking
  • Sending private sexual images without the alleged victim’s consent
  • Interference with an emergency call
  • Any other similar domestic violence-related law from other states

If the offender has one prior conviction, the domestic assault is punishable for up to one year in jail, with a possible $3,000 fine. If the offender has two or more crimes of domestic assault on their file, it will be punishable for up to five years in state prison with a fine up to $10,000.

Consequences for Conviction of Domestic Assault

If an offender is convicted of domestic assault, aggravated, or simple assault against a household or family member, or if they have violated a protective order, the court will order the offender to forfeit their firearm used in the offense. The court can also request, and in some situations are required to demand, the offender to be prohibited from owning a firearm in the future. If this firearm ban is violated, the offender faces up to one year in jail and a fine that goes as high as $3,000.

Under federal laws, if one is convicted of domestic violence, they lose their rights to bear arms. Under Minnesota law, the weapon present during an assault is automatically forfeited. The right to bear arms is an important constitutional right to many Minnesota residents. If your rights are being threatened, you want a criminal defense attorney with experience working with you to protect this constitutional privilege. Ringstrom Law understands your rights and will do everything in our power to protect your right to own a firearm.

Domestic Assault and the Right to Carry a Pistol

If you are convicted of domestic assault or fifth-degree assault, and the courts determine that the victim is a household or family member of yours, you can be prohibited from carrying a pistol for three years from the date you are convicted. If you violate this order, it is considered a gross misdemeanor. Even should the courts fail to advise you of this restriction, you are still bound by this rule.

Consequences for Violating a Protective Order or No Contact Order in Domestic Assault Case

If an offender violates a protective order, and this includes an order issued not only in Minnesota, but any state, or a no-contact order, it is punishable for up to ninety days in jail, along with a possible fine up to $1,000. Counseling will also be mandatory. It is also considered 'contempt of court,' as a court order is disobeyed, and this is punishable by jail time and a possible fine.

If the courts should find an offender is in violation of a protective order, and there is belief present that they will continue to violate this order, the court can then require the offender to post a bond of $10,000 to make sure the order is not violated again. Should the offender refuse to pay this amount, the court can then detain the offender in jail until the order of protection expires.

If an offender knowingly violates an order of protection within ten years of a domestic assault-related offense conviction, it is punishable from one to five years in prison with possible fines from $3,000 to $10,000.

What to Expect if Convicted of Domestic Assault

One of the rights already discussed that are lost if you are convicted of domestic assault is your right to bear arms. You can also expect a combination of a monetary fine, two years of probation, no contact allowed with the victim, substance abuse counseling, community service, electronic home monitoring, treatment for substance abuse, as well as anger management classes.

Each case has its own unique circumstances and facts that will determine how your case is sentenced. As a first-time offender, you will probably not serve any jail time other than a short jail stay of two to three days. A second offense or subsequent conviction will increase your jail time as well as your probation period.

Defense Against Domestic Assault

The key to defending a domestic charge in Minnesota is knowing the court system and having a good relationship with prosecutors. For these reasons, you want a strong legal team working with you to build a good defense strategy. A domestic assault defense attorney will review the evidence brought against you, create a strategy to defend this evidence, and work to get the charges reduced or dismissed. If the case cannot be dismissed, your attorney from Ringstrom Law will be with you throughout the entire trial process.

There are numerous defense strategies used in domestic assault cases:

  • Self-defense
  • Defense of another person
  • Defense of property
  • False allegations

Many scenarios take place where only the offender and alleged victim are witnesses to what is being referred to as domestic assault. These cases often result in a 'he said,' 'she said' case, and evidence for either side is difficult to present. The factors which are needed to be considered will include the credibility of the witnesses and the criminal record of the alleged offender. Because of the challenges involved in these types of cases, you will want Ringstrom Law working on your behalf to ensure your credibility is presented correctly to give you the best outcome against these charges. 

A lot of domestic assault cases involve the saying 'it takes two to tango,' and these cases can include situations that occur in bar-room fights and other assault relationships. A defense can be considered where one has been incited to violence, and it will take a good defense attorney to cast doubt on the prosecution's accusations.

Find a Domestic Assault Attorney Near Me

Domestic assault charges can have far-reaching consequences on your future if you do not have the right legal team working for you. Contact Ringstrom Law at 218-284-0484 if you have been charged in Moorhead and protect your future and other rights against these very serious charges. Planning a defense strategy as soon as possible will give you a much better chance of a positive outcome. Call today, and we will begin building your defense against the domestic assault charges you face.

MN criminal defense attorneys Bruce Ringstrom Jr. & Bruce Ringstrom Sr.

Bruce Ringstrom Jr. & Bruce Ringstrom Sr.

Criminal Defense Attorneys in MN & ND

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