Domestic Assault Lawyer in Minneapolis
If you have been accused of or charged with domestic assault in Minnesota, the Law Offices of Barry Hogen can help. Domestic Assault is a very serious offense and one that is pursued aggressively in Minnesota. It is also an accusation that can result in a person being named in an order for protection. If that order is violated, then a completely different set of criminal charges can result.
Nonetheless, there are many times when domestic assault charges are brought because the alleged victim was jealous or angry. Perhaps there is a child custody dispute or a divorce happening.
False accusations are possible in these types of cases, but authorities responding to most domestic incidents typically place one party under arrest—often simply to avoid the possibility of any additional harm to an alleged victim. Police may arrest people for alleged domestic assault offenses even when there is no physical evidence of such crimes.
These are cases that require the help of a Minneapolis criminal defense attorney because they are very sensitive and the details can become exaggerated. If you have been accused of domestic assault, it is best to not sit back and accept the charges. Doing so could result in the maximum penalties being paid when they don’t have to be.
If you have been accused of or charged with domestic assault, the Law Office of Barry Hogan can help. We will advocate for your side of the story and protect your rights and your future. To learn more about what we can do for you, contact our Minneapolis office at (763) 513-9085.
What are the laws?
Domestic assault is a misdemeanor offense when an alleged offender harms, attempts to harm, or causes fear of harm in a family or household member. Family and household members include spouses, former spouses, parents and children, any blood relatives, people who live or have lived together, a woman who is a pregnant and the father of the child, and any people involved in a romantic or sexual relationship.
Repeat domestic assault offenses are charged differently. Domestic assault is a gross misdemeanor when a second offense is committed within 10 years of a previous domestic violence conviction.
Domestic assault is charged as a felony when a violation occurs within 10 years of two or more domestic violence convictions.
Minnesota law also establishes the offense of domestic assault by strangulation, which is a felony offense.
What are the penalties?
A misdemeanor domestic assault crime is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Gross misdemeanor offenses are punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $3,000. The sentence must includes a minimum of 20 days imprisonment, at least 96 hours (four days) of which must be served consecutively.
Felony domestic assault crimes are punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If a stay of execution is granted, it will include at least a 45-day period of incarceration, of which a minimum of 15 days must be served consecutively.
A domestic assault by strangulation conviction can result in a sentence of up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Minnesota law also states that when a person is convicted of domestic assault, the court must determine and record whether the assault was committed against a family or household member, whether the offender possesses a firearm, and whether the firearm was used during the assault.
If the court determines that a domestic assault was of a family or household member and the alleged offender owns or possesses a firearm that was used it in any way during the commission of the assault, it will order that the firearm be forfeited. The court can also ban the offender from possessing any firearm for a court-determined amount of time. A violation of this prohibition is a gross misdemeanor.
Defending against charges
Clearly, domestic assault charges can be extremely serious. Fortunately, you have rights and can fight the charges against you. If you are charged with domestic assault, there are two main possible defenses available to you:
- Self Defense: Self defense is a fairly common defense against domestic assault charges. If you were harmed or feared harm against you, you may respond with reasonable force if there are no other options available to you. It is important when using this defense that you did not in any way escalate the situation, that your fear was reasonable, and that your response was appropriate. For example, if your partner slapped you so you slapped them back, this defense may be used. If, however, your partner slapped you and you shot them, this defense will likely fail.
- False Allegations: False allegations are fairly common in domestic violence situations, particularly during divorce. One parent may accuse the other of domestic assault in order to help their case for property, alimony, or child custody. Your lawyer can go through police reports and witness statements to try to uncover any inconsistencies in the accuser’s story and follow the trail to the truth.
Fortunately, in criminal cases, you are considered innocent until proven guilty, and the burden of proof rests on the prosecution. If a prosecutor lacks the evidence necessary to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, your attorney may be able to get your criminal charges reduced or completely dismissed.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer will be able to conduct a thorough independent investigation of your alleged domestic assault to review all of the evidence against you. Your legal counsel can work to prove any false or exaggerated allegations.
The goal of your attorney is to obtain the best possible result. Under Minnesota law, domestic assault is an enhanceable offense, which means that any past offenses can enhance the current one. In turn, the current one can enhance future alleged offenses. This is part of why it is extremely important to get quality legal representation on your side.
Alleged offenders without legal representation can often be pressured into accepting plea bargains that are much less favorable than what can be achieved through negotiations handled by an experienced criminal defense lawyer. While you may be tempted to try to save money by representing yourself or using an overworked public defender, the consequences of this can be catastrophic. A criminal defense lawyer has a much greater chance of getting your charges reduced or dropped, and with such severe penalties if you are convicted, hiring a lawyer is almost always worth it.
Long-Term Consequences and Orders of Protection
Your attorney will fight for your freedom and for your future. A domestic assault conviction could result in you not being able to own a firearm, could prevent you from getting a job that pays well, and could even prevent you from being able to find a nice place to live. There are many consequences that can result outside of the criminal penalties, which is why it is very important to fight the charges.
The exact charge may be a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or a felony. Which is charged depends on how serious the alleged crime was and the aggravating factors involved. If tried and convicted, the penalties can include long-term probation, counseling, fines, and anger management courses. The conviction also leads to a mark on your permanent record.
All of this comes in addition to the Order for Protection (OFP) that prevents the defendant from being able to see the accuser and any minor children that may be in the custody of the accuser.
An OFP is more commonly referred to as a restraining order and it can remain in effect for up to two years, although alleged victims can petition for extensions. A person subject to an OFP is prohibited from contacting alleged victims and possibly children shared with alleged victims.
Minnesota law states that the court must presume that joint legal custody is in the best interests of the child, but the court will often determine that joint legal or physical custody is not in the best interests of the child if domestic abuse has occurred between the parents.
OFPs can be fought, even after they are put in place. Your attorney can represent your interests in this matter as well.
Contact a St. Louis Park Criminal Defense Lawyer
Domestic assault is serious in that it involves a family member injuring or threatening another family member. It is an offense that is taken very seriously in Minnesota and can result in severe and lasting consequences. You do not have to accept the charges against you. In the United States, you are innocent until proven guilty, and you should exercise those rights by defending yourself with the help of an experienced domestic assault attorney.
If you have been accused of domestic assault, contact the Law Office of Barry Hogen for help. Our skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense team has experience winning domestic assault cases, and we can put that experience to work for you. To learn more about your rights and options, call the Law Office of Barry Hogen at 612-338-5545 to schedule a free consultation.