Minnesota Domestic Violence Laws
In Minnesota, it's illegal to intentionally inflict physical harm or cause fear of immediate physical harm or death to another family or household member. Family or household members are:
- Parents and children
- Blood relatives
- Former and current spouses
- Former and current co-habitants
- People with a child together (regardless of marriage or co-habitation status)
- A man and woman if the woman is pregnant and the man is the alleged father (regardless of marriage or co-habitation status)
- People involved in a significant romantic or sexual relationship
Typically, domestic assault is a gross misdemeanor that can be sentenced by not less than 20 days and not more than one year in jail and a fine not more than $3,000. However, if a person has two or more prior domestic violence related offense convictions, the crime is increased to a felony. In this case, the penalty is a minimum of 45 days in jail (15 of which must be served consecutively) and up to 5 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
A pre-sentencing domestic abuse investigation must be conducted for domestic abuse, restraining order, and harassment related crimes. The report may recommend actions for the victim’s safety or for the abuser to attend a batterer’s intervention program, get a drug and alcohol dependency evaluation, or other appropriate remedial actions.
Other domestic violence crimes in Minnesota include domestic assault by strangulation where a person strangles or blocks the nose or mouth of a family member. A person who commits other crimes such as criminal sexual conduct (rape and sexual assault), kidnapping, or false imprisonment against a family member can be tried for those crimes the same as if they were committed against a stranger.
Domestic Violence Convictions and Guns
If a person is convicted of domestic assault, domestic assault by strangulation, or assault in the 1st through 5th degree against a family or household member and the person owns a firearm that was used during the assault in any way, the gun must be forfeited. The person will also be prohibited from owning a gun for three years (if gun wasn’t used in the assault) to the rest of the person’s life (if the firearm was used in the assault). Violating this gun prohibition is a gross misdemeanor that can be punished by up to one year imprisonment or a fine up to $3,000.
If the gun prohibition is temporary and the gun wasn’t mandatorily forfeited due to the crime, the transfer of the gun to a third party, like a law enforcement agency or licensed firearms dealer, can be temporary. Once the three years is up, the defendant can get the gun back.
If someone is hurting you or controlling you physically, financially, or emotionally, please seek help. Your local domestic violence program can help safety plan with you and refer you to support groups or shelter services. You can get a protection order to have a legal document that requires your abuser to stay away from you. If your abuser violates this order, he or she can be arrested and potentially convicted of violating the order. For more information, see the Minnesota Protective Order Laws article.
If someone has a protection order against you, even a temporary one, follow the order or you can get in legal trouble. Violating a protection order is a misdemeanor that will get you a minimum of three days in jail and get you forced into participating in counseling or other appropriate programs. If you violate the order within 10 days of a prior domestic violence related conviction, it’s a gross misdemeanor with a minimum of 10 days in jail.
The violation is a felony with a 30-day minimum and 5-year maximum imprisonment and a fine up to $10,000 if you have two prior domestic violence related convictions within the past 10 years or you violated the order while in possession of a dangerous weapon. Violating a restraining order will also get you prohibited from owning any type of firearms for somewhere between three years to the rest of your life.
Getting Legal Help
If you or a loved one have been charged with a domestic violence crime, you should immediately contact an experienced Minnesota criminal defense attorney. If you have guns, be sure to inform your attorney of that fact.
If you’re a victim of a domestic violence crime, in an emergency call 911. To report a crime after the fact, call your local police department or to press charges, contact your local district attorney’s office. If you’d like help getting a protection order, an experienced local domestic violence attorney or your local legal aid organization may be able to help.
Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney
Contact a qualified attorney.