Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Minnesota Domestic Assault (Explained)

Domestic Assault cases more often than not arise out of a dispute between husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend or people living together.  Some recent high profile cases, in the State of Minnesota, include the prosecution of Chris Cook - the Minnesota Viking who was recently acquitted of such a charge. 

Of the cases I worked, both as a former prosecutor and now on this side of the aisle, these types of matters are often the messiest.  Not only are they difficult for the government to prove --- it can be equally as trying for the accused to demonstrate their innocence- especially without the help of an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney.


Essentially, at its most simplistic level, Domestic Assault is the act of placing another person in fear of being harmed and/or in-fact harming that person.  Therefore, punching, slapping, hitting and/or almost any act of physical contact - or the threat of as much - can be construed to comport with a hyper-technical reading of the statute and subject you to a possible criminal conviction.

Level of Charges

5th Degree Domestic Assault is a Misdemeanor level offense punishable by a maximum of 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. However, Domestic Assault can be charged out at both a Gross Misdemeanor and a Felony based on the harm done and/or someones prior record.  See, convictions for these sorts of offenses are what are referred to as enhanceable offenses. As such, if a person is charged with 5th Degree Domestic Assault more than once with the same alleged victim (over a certain period of time,)than it can be charged as a Gross Misdemeanor (Maximum of one year in jail and a $3,000 fine) or even a felony if aggravating circumstances or prior offenses are present.

No Contact Orders

More often than not, a Domestic Assault case involves an Order for Protection or a No Contact order. This is an order by the Court that restricts the individual charged from having ANY contact (direct or in-direct) with the alleged victim. To have this type of Order vacated - and to regain contact - a Judge must allow it. No contact orders are very strict and any violation of the order could land the violator in jail - facing a whole new charge.

What You Should Do?

Whenever a case is analyzed it is critical to know details about the reason you were approached by police, what procedures the officers used during your seizure and subsequent arrest, what is contained in your record (ie., your prior criminal/traffic history,) whether the officer read you your Miranda rights when you were arrested, were you allowed to contact an attorney, and many other variables.

Understanding that there are a lot of balls in the air, the next best decision is to sit down with an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney to get answers.  Remember, you're going to get one chance to get this right.  If you FAIL ... the consequences could be with you long after your court case is closed. 

It is very important to have legal representation since these are very serious types of cases. If you want to know what you need to know - and get insight into those things you didn't even know you didn't know - then call the Rolloff Law Office at (612) 234-1165 to set up a FREE CONSULTATION.  I'm a DA who has taken what the government taught me about prosecuting cases like this - to earn my clients fair and just results.

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