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Sadly, domestic assault charges are one of the top three most common offenses in which we issue bail bonds. Minnesota has a reputation for some of the toughest assault laws in the country. Of course, each case is unique and has a variety of contributing factors. Here are some common terms, statistics, and frequently asked questions when it comes to assault charges:

What does a qualified domestic violence offense mean? If someone has a prior conviction of a domestic-violence related offense within ten years of being charged with domestic assault, the charge becomes a gross misdemeanor and may result in a maximum prison term of one year or payment of a fine not exceeding $3,000, or both. If a person has two or more prior convictions of such offenses, then the domestic assault charge becomes a felony with a maximum jail term of five years, or a payment of a fine not exceeding $10,000, or both. Qualified domestic-violence offenses  include the following crimes under Minnesota law:

  • Violating a domestic abuse Order For Protection (OFP);
  • Violating a domestic abuse no-contact order;
  • First and second degree murder;
  • First through fifth degree assault;
  • Domestic assault and domestic assault by strangulation;
  • First through fourth degree criminal sexual misconduct;
  • Malicious punishment of a child;
  • Terroristic threats;
  • Harassment, violating a harassment restraining order, or stalking; and
  • Interference with an emergency call.

Are there aggravating factors that may change a domestic assault case outcome? If a person is convicted of domestic assault, domestic assault by strangulation, or assault in the first through fifth degree against a family or household member, and the person owns a firearm that was used during the assault, Minnesota law states the gun must be forfeited. The person charged with the crime could also be prohibited from owning a gun for three years to the rest of the person’s life. Violating this gun prohibition is a gross misdemeanor and is punishable by up to one year imprisonment or a fine up to $3,000.

What if a domestic assault is reported after the original incident? In Minnesota, an officer may arrest a person without a warrant, including at the person’s residence, if the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed domestic abuse within the preceding 24 hours. The officer may make the arrest even though the domestic abuse did not take place in the officer’s presence.

Has the current pandemic changed how assault charges are handled? Sadly, yes. Local authorities have noticed fewer domestic assault calls during periods of lockdown and quarantine, although this doesn’t reflect a decrease in violence. Few interventions and options to seek help seem available when kept at home. But, assistance is always available and victims are encouraged to continue to seek help.

Did you know?

  • Last year in Minnesota, nearly 70,000 victims received services from domestic violence agencies.
  • About one in five high school girls has been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.
  • Nearly one third of homeless women in MN are homeless at least in part because of domestic abuse.
  • Domestic abuse victims account for one quarter of violent crime victims in Minnesota. An estimated 80% of domestic assaults go unreported.

If you or someone you love is a victim of domestic assault, please contact 911.