Did you know that the police can charge you with domestic assault even if you never touched anyone? If the alleged victim even thinks that you were going to hurt them, the police will usually charge you. A lot of domestic assault cases start when two people get into a loud argument and someone calls the police.
What is required for Domestic Assault? A couple things. First, the person that you allegedly assaulted has to be a family or household member. Otherwise, it’s just regular assault instead of “domestic” assault. Second, you have to do one of these two things:
- commit an act with intent to cause fear in another of immediately bodily harm or death (for example, if you say “I’m going to kick your ass” or if you push someone or raise a fist at them and intend to scare them, that could be enough); or
- intentionally inflict or attempt to inflict bodily harm upon another (for example, if you try to punch them and miss or you actually do punch them or push them into a wall).
What is a Family or Household Member? It’s more than you think. In Minnesota, a “family or household member” is any of the following:
- Spouses and former spouses;
- Parents and children;
- Persons related by blood;
- Persons who presently live together or have lived together in the past;
- Persons who have a child together regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together;
- A man and woman if the woman is pregnant and the man is alleged to be the father; or
- Persons involved in a significant romantic or sexual relationship.
What is the penalty? The first time is a misdemeanor, and the maximum is 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. If you get a second conviction within 10 years of the first conviction, then it is a gross misdemeanor, and the maximum is 1 year in jail and a $3,000 fine. A third offense is a felony with a maximum of 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Also, if you threatened the alleged victim with a gun, then the penalties are worse, and the gun can be forfeited.
In addition to criminal penalties and having a criminal record, you have to watch out for two more things: A No Contact Order and a ban on possessing firearms.
What’s a No Contact Order? If you’re charged with domestic assault, the judge will usually issue a “No Contact Order.” This means that you are prevented from having any contact with the alleged victim, even if it is your wife or husband. The judge will issue this order as soon as you’re charged, they will not wait to see if you’re actually guilty. If the judge issues a No Contact Order, then you cannot contact the alleged victim in any manner. You cannot call them on the phone, go near them, text message them, instant message them, email them, have your friend call them, write them a letter, or have any other form of contact with them. If you violate the No Contact Order, the judge could send you to jail and you could be charged with an additional crime. You cannot live with them if there is a No Contact Order, so you might have to move out of your own house unless and until the judge vacates (gets rid of) the No Contact Order.
I can’t have a gun? If you are convicted of domestic assault, federal law prohibits you from possessing a firearm. You can’t even have a BB Gun, because they are considered a firearm. You also can’t hunt with a firearm or have a permit to carry a pistol. I know a guy that had a domestic assault on his record, and years later he was shooting a bb gun at targets in his yard. A neighbor told on him, and the police charged him with possessing a firearm. The judge sentenced him to 5 years in prison for possessing a bb gun because he had a domestic assault on his record.
How can a lawyer help me? An experienced criminal defense lawyer can make a big difference in your case. Often times, we can help to get the charges lowered or dismissed. We are familiar with the defenses that are available, including but not limited to self defense, defense of another, and no intent to cause fear or harm or actual harm. We also know how to maximize your chances of having the judge get rid of the No Contact Order. If your case goes to trial, we have the experience of defending domestic assault cases and know what jurors are looking for in order to increase your chances of getting a not guilty verdict.
The information above is just a basic summary of what you can expect for a domestic assault in Minnesota. There are too many fact-specific variables to cover every situation in one blog. Therefore, this information should not be relied upon for legal advice. If you have further questions, feel free to call Ryan Pacyga Criminal Defense at 612-339-5844 for a free consultation, or visit my website at www.arrestedmn.comYou can also follow me on Twitter: arrestedmn