Domestic Assault Charges Dismissed
THE CASE: State Dismisses Domestic Violence Charge Prior to Start of Trial
THE FACTS: The client was charged with Domestic Assault after an alleged incident involving her husband. The client and her husband were experiencing typical marital stressors largely triggered by pandemic-related employment issues. The argument reached a point where the husband felt it necessary to call the police. During the course of his interview, the police took some of the husband’s statements out of context and assumed the client had physically assaulted him during the argument. The client was cuffed and arrested on an allegation of domestic assault.
THE DEFENSE: Our investigation revealed the client never assaulted her husband as required under Minnesota’s domestic assault laws. Our investigator reached out to the client’s husband and discovered that the husband did not in fact state that the client had assaulted him the way the state had alleged. The husband made clear that he did not want his wife to be prosecuted and did not want to be forced to testify against her at trial. We provided the husband’s statements to the prosecutor and bolstered our defense that the state would not be able to prove domestic assault beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
CASE RESULT: The prosecutor recognized the unlikelihood of a conviction at trial and dismissed the domestic assault charges prior to trial. The client had a lot at stake, including immigration-related issues. A domestic assault conviction carries significant consequences, including possible jail time, a public background with a stigma of domestic assault, and a loss of an ability to lawfully possess a firearm. The dismissal was vital to the client’s future.
Domestic Assault Charges in Minnesota: The Basics
Under Minnesota law (Minn. Stat. § 518B.01), domestic abuse is defined as committing one of the following three acts against a family member or a household member:
1. Causing physical harm by assault;
2. Intentional infliction of the fear of imminent harm; or
3. The making of terroristic threats.
There are a few things that people accused of this offense should know about this state statute.
First and foremost, the terms “family member” and “household member” are defined in a broad manner.
At a minimum, it includes spouses, children, blood relatives, roommates, a person with whom one shares a child, and people engaged in an ongoing sexual relationship.
To be clear, a defendant does not necessarily have to live under the same roof as the alleged victim to be charged with domestic assault.
Additionally, the first-time accusation of domestic abuse under this statute is a misdemeanor charge.
Prior convictions can enhance future allegations of domestic abuse too much more serious charges that carry much more severe consequences.
Felony Domestic Assault in Minnesota
While domestic assault can be charged as a misdemeanor offense in Minnesota, there are also several different factors that could cause this charge to be upgraded to a felony offense.
As an example, under Minn. Stat. § 609.2247, domestic assault committed by means of strangulation or suffocation will be charged as a felony.
A felony offense is a far more serious crime.
In many cases, state prosecutors will seek prison sentences for defendants charged with felony domestic assault.
What are the Penalties for Domestic Assault in Minnesota?
The penalties for domestic assault will vary based on a number of different factors, including the specific nature of the alleged offense and the defendant’s prior criminal history, or lack thereof.
As a starting point, a first time misdemeanor domestic violence offense is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 financial penalty.
However, if the domestic assault offense is charged as a felony, such as in cases where the accused is alleged to have strangled the victim, the maximum punishment for felony domestic assault in Minnesota is three years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
As was mentioned, domestic assault penalties will also be heightened if the defendant has a prior criminal record — especially if they have a previous history of domestic violence-related offenses.
Anyone facing domestic abuse charges needs to take immediate action to protect their legal rights and their freedom.
Avoid giving a statement to police or prosecutors without first talking to a lawyer.
An experienced domestic assault attorney will be able to offer guidance after reviewing the specific nature of the charges.
What You Need to Know About Protective Orders
When domestic assault or domestic abuse charges are filed, a protective order will also usually be entered against the accused.
The order will be known as a Domestic Abuse No Contact Order (DANCO) if it’s issued by the judge at the bail hearing.
If the alleged victim pursues a no-contact order, it will typically be known as an Order for Protection (OFP).
Either type of no-contact order will have a significant impact on the accused’s legal rights.
As explained by the Minnesota Judicial Branch, an Order for Protection is a civil restraining order that prevents the accused from contacting the alleged victim.
To be clear, a protective order can be entered without a criminal conviction.
It is a different process and there are different legal standards.
If an Order for Protection (OFP) has been entered against you and you are facing criminal domestic assault charges, it is imperative that you fully comply with the terms of the protective order.
If you knowingly violate the OFP, you can be arrested.
Depending on the specific circumstances of the case, violating a protective order may even be a felony offense in itself.
How Our Minnesota Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys Can Help
If you were charged with domestic assault in Minnesota, it is essential that you seek help from an experienced legal professional.
At Arechigo & Stokka, we fight tirelessly to protect the rights of our clients.
No matter the circumstances of your case, our team is prepared to help.
Among other things, our skilled Saint Paul, MN domestic assault defense lawyers will:
- Conduct a free, confidential review of the domestic assault charges;
- Answer your questions and explain your rights and options;
- Investigate the domestic assault charges — securing any relevant exonerating evidence; and
- Build a sensible, effective legal defense strategy.
All defendants deserve fully personalized legal representation.
Every criminal charge is different.
In some cases, our St. Paul domestic assault attorneys will mount an aggressive defense to fight back against false accusations.
In other cases, it may be advisable to work with prosecutors and to focus on finding a plea agreement.
Our law firm will coordinate a strategy with your input to protect your best interests.
Get Help From Our Twin Cities Domestic Assault Defense Lawyers Today
At Arechigo & Stokka, our Minnesota criminal defense attorneys have deep experience handling the full range of domestic assault cases.
We have successfully convinced state prosecutors to dismiss a number of prior domestic assault charges against clients for reasons ranging from insufficient evidence to untrustworthy complaining witnesses.
We are strong, effective advocates for our clients.
If you or your family member was charged with domestic assault, please do not hesitate to contact our law firm for a free, strictly confidential consultation.
From our law office in Saint Paul, we serve communities throughout the Twin Cities, including Saint Paul, Minneapolis, Bloomington, Minnetonka, Edina, Eden Prairie, Prior Lake, Eagan, Apple Valley, Burnsville, Hastings, Coon Rapids, and, St. Cloud.