Strangulation Defense

Domestic abuse is commonly a misdemeanor offense in Minnesota, but the crime can become a felony when the violation is committed within 10 years of a previous qualified domestic violence-related offense conviction. Any instance of domestic abuse that involves strangulation, however, will result in felony charges regardless of whether an alleged offender has been previously convicted of domestic violence-related offenses.

Strangulation charges are based on the testimony of an alleged victim, and some cases do not involve visible physical evidence of the alleged attack. A person who is accused of domestic assault by strangulation in Minnesota should take these charges very seriously, as a felony conviction could create numerous hardships in matters related to employment, housing, and professional licensing for the remainder of your life.

Were you recently arrested for an alleged domestic assault by strangulation? You should not say anything to authorities until you have legal representation. It is important to choose an attorney who understands these charges and who knows how to build a strong defense on your behalf.

The Law Office of Barry Hogen is dedicated to protecting the rights of clients all over Minnesota, and our firm will work tirelessly to defend you from accusations of domestic violence including strangulation. Call (763) 513-9085 or complete an online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

Strangulation Laws in Minnesota

Subdivision 1(c) of Minnesota Statute § 609.2247 defines strangulation as “intentionally impeding normal breathing or circulation of the blood by applying pressure on the throat or neck or by blocking the nose or mouth of another person.” In most cases, an alleged offender uses their hands to strangle another person, but the definition could also be satisfied through the use of specific objects, such as cords.

Subdivision 2 of Minnesota Statute § 609.2247 states that a person commits domestic assault by strangulation when they assault a family or household member by strangulation. Subdivision 2(b) of Minnesota Statute § 518B.01 defines family or household members as meaning:

  • Spouses
  • Former Spouses or persons who have a child in common, regardless of whether or not they’ve been married
  • Parents
  • Children
  • Anyone who is related by blood
  • People who are currently living together or who have lived together in the past
  • Persons who are currently expecting a child, even if they have not ever been married or have ever lived together
  • Persons in a romantic or sexual relationship

Evidence in strangulation cases can be scratches or other marks on a victim’s neck, or there might be statements from witnesses. Some cases, however, do not involve evidence in which the alleged strangulation is evident.

An October 2001 study published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine from the American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM) evaluated 300 strangulation cases submitted for misdemeanor prosecution to the San Diego City Attorney’s Office. The study found that “a lack of training may have caused police and prosecutors to overlook symptoms of strangulation or to rely too heavily on the visible signs of strangulation.”

What are the Penalties for Strangulation?

Domestic assault by strangulation is a felony in Minnesota. A conviction is punishable by up to three years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

Another consequence of a domestic assault by strangulation conviction is that a person could then face a protective order. Under Subdivision 4(a) of Minnesota Statute § 518B.01, any family or household member, a guardian, or, when the court finds that it is in the best interests of a minor, a reputable adult 25 years of age or older can petition the court for an Order of Protection on behalf of minor family or household members, and a minor who is 16 years of age or older can file a petition for an Order of Protection on their own behalf against a spouse, former spouse, or person with whom the minor has a child in common when the court determines that the minor has sufficient maturity and judgment and that it is in the minor’s best interests.

A criminal court could also issue a domestic abuse no-contact order (DANCO). Orders for Protection and DANCOs both place significant restrictions on a person’s freedom, and violations of these court orders can carry severe penalties.

While most first-time violations without aggravating factors are misdemeanor offenses, subsequent violations can result in gross misdemeanor or possibly even felony charges. Convictions for violations can result in additional fines and jail or prison sentences.

Even without a protective order being issued, a domestic assault by strangulation conviction can cause other problems for a person simply by appearing on their criminal record. As you can imagine, this type of crime gives many people pause and typically results in unfavorable determinations for many employment, housing, and professional licensing applications.

Charged with Strangulation? We Will Fight For You

Police may charge an individual with domestic assault by strangulation even when there is no evidence to support these charges. You could be facing felony charges based merely on what an alleged victim told authorities, and it will be challenging for you to fight these charges even though you are entitled to a presumption of innocence.

If you were arrested for an alleged domestic assault by strangulation offense in Minnesota, make sure that you exercise your right to remain silent when dealing with police. You will want to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

The Law Office of Barry Hogen has more than 30 years of experience defending people accused of all kinds of criminal offenses in the Minneapolis area. Call (763) 513-9085 or contact us online to have our lawyer review your case and answer all of your legal questions during a free consultation.