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Using Domestic Assault Convictions in Family Court
According to one estimate, one in four women are the victim of relationship violence at some point during their lives. Even if that statistic is inflated, there is no doubt that domestic violence is one of society’s most serious problems. In addition to violence, these incidents usually involve betrayal and abuse of power. Many people consider these things just as bad, or even worse, than the abuse itself.
A cornerstone of criminal defense is that there are almost always two sides to the story. That principle is very important to us at Gerald Miller, P.A. If you face domestic assault charges, we offer a vigorous defense. If you need protection, we offer assistance in this area as well. Our team does not take sides. Our team stands up for individual rights.
Domestic Assault Violence Charges in Minneapolis
As experienced Minneapolis assault lawyers, we know that Section 609.224 criminalizes common-law assault, which is threatening someone, and common-law battery, which is hitting someone.
Ask any Minneapolis assault lawyer and they will tell you that in terms of injury-related assault, Minnesota law is assault, Minnesota law is a bit unusual.
A good Minneapolis assault lawyer will understand that domestic violence is broadly defined in Minnesota.
Any experienced Minneapolis Domestic Assault Violence lawyer will confirm that almost all domestic assault cases involve husbands and wives. And, in most of these cases, the alleged abuser is the husband and the alleged victim is the wife. Common law marriages are not legal in Minnesota. Therefore, these relationships always involve two people who are legally married.
Dating violence is a distant second. Frequently, these alleged victims only file charges in extreme cases. The law protects these relationships, but a situation like “dating partners” is rather hard to define. The couple need not be engaged, but one or two dates usually does not constitute a relationship.
Relationships created by blood or marriage are also protected. That includes two people who had a child together. These incidents are rather rare because although these relationships are often contentious and abusive, extreme violence is rather uncommon.
The domestic violence law does not just prohibit physical violence. It applies to all of the following:
- Physical Harm: Technically, physical injury is not a requirement. However, unless the alleged victim sustained a noticeable injury, it’s hard to prove that an assault occurred. It’s even harder to prove the assault was intentional and not accidental.
- Imminent Fear of Physical Harm: A verbal threat might not be sufficient. Additionally, the threat must be credible. If the alleged abuser does not own a gun, threatening to shoot the alleged victim is not an imminent threat of physical harm.
- Terroristic Threat: This category covers a wide range of behavior, such as criminal sexual conduct, direct interference with an emergency call, and false imprisonment (e.g. blocking someone’s path or confiscating someone’s car keys).
As mentioned, prosecutors must not only prove the conduct. They must prove the conduct was intentional (which is not the same thing as malicious). And, they must prove these things beyond a reasonable doubt. When hiring an attorney, remember that the defenses provided by a Minneapolis Domestic Assault Violence lawyer may be different from those provided by a Minneapolis Assault lawyer. Pick wisely!
Most police officers are legally required to inform alleged victims of their right to a restraining order. This additional step does more than offer more protection. It undercuts a common defense, which is the alleged victim fabricated the assault to cause problems for the alleged abuser.
Restraining orders are not just pieces of paper. They impose additional restrictions and additional penalties. Most restraining orders include provisions for financial support payment and/or surrender of firearms. Additionally, violating a restraining order is a very serious offense.
Finally, restraining orders allow alleged victims to put third parties, like daycares and schools, on notice about the issues.
Using Domestic Assault Convictions in Family Court
Domestic assault convictions have no lookback period or statute of limitations. Theoretically, any conviction could adversely affect any future family law matter, especially a child custody dispute.
The conviction is especially relevant if the child the subject of the suit witnessed the assault or was the victim.
Relevancy issues sometimes arise. If Joe was convicted of domestic violence in 2005, that conviction might not carry much weight in a 2025 divorce. A lawyer might even be able to exclude it. If Joe files a divorce modification action in 2027, his prior conviction is legally inadmissible. The court can only consider facts which occurred between 2025 and 2027.
Domestic Assault Violence FAQs
In this context, domestic violence is either physical violence or the imminent, credible threat of physical violence. Emotional and other non-physical violence could be the subject of a restraining order, which is a related procedure.
Simple domestic violence is usually a misdemeanor. Extreme domestic violence, such as criminal sexual conduct or violence which results in serious bodily harm, is usually a felony. Minnesota lawmakers recently eliminated the marital CSC immunity provision.
You just asked a mouthful. In most cases, alcohol is one of the most prominent contributing factors. Domestic abuse usually involves underlying emotional issues as well, such as abuse of power and betrayal of trust.
Technically, alleged victims are witnesses in these criminal cases. Witnesses can ask prosecutors to drop charges, but only prosecutors have the authority to do so. In fact, if any witness, including an alleged victim, refuses to cooperate, the state could issue a subpoena.
Most domestic assault cases, including violation of a protective order, are misdemeanors (up to six months in jail) or gross misdemeanors (up to a year in jail). Many other domestic assault cases are felonies, and some are very serious felonies.
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