There’s a popular saying that familiarity breeds contempt, and the large number of domestic assault and domestic disturbance complaints that Minnesota law enforcement officers have to respond to every day certainly affirms this claim. Living together can create tension and stress that eventually culminates in an argument or even a physical fight.
Those who get into a heated argument or a physical altercation with their spouse, intimate partner, family member or roommate could find themselves facing serious allegations of domestic assault. Familiarizing yourself with how Minnesota defines domestic assault and the potential consequences such charges can carry will make it easier for you to make educated decisions about what to do.
You don’t have to have a formal relationship for domestic assault to occur
Some people mistakenly believe that domestic violence only involves individuals with a formal marital relationship or at least an official relationship status. While a large amount of domestic violence does occur between intimate partners, romantic relationships are not the only kinds of relationships that lead to domestic assault.
You can face domestic assault charges for an act of violence or aggression against a:
- blood relative
- former spouse
- roommate or former roommate
- co-parent (regardless of marital or habitation status)
- woman claiming you are the father of her unborn child
If an altercation takes place inside your home but the other person does not fall into any of these categories, the charges that result will likely be simple assault rather than domestic assault charges.
You don’t have to hurt someone
One of the most common mistakes people make about domestic assault is assuming that it only applies in situations where one person causes substantial bodily harm to another. However, under Minnesota law, assault also involves threatening or intimidating behavior intended to make one person fear for their safety or their life.
Domestic assault charges can include causing serious physical harm to another, but they may also result from threatening actions or words against a spouse, family member or intimate partner. In cases involving a threat with a firearm, you can lose the firearm and your future right to legally own a weapon.
What are the penalties for a first-time domestic assault?
The first time the state attempts to charge you with domestic assault, you will likely face misdemeanor charges that carry up to 90 days in jail and a fine of as much as $1,000. A second offense within a year would result in gross misdemeanor charges, while a third offense could produce felony charges that carry up to five years in prison.
The courts can also issue a no-contact order and may prevent you from legally acquiring or owning firearms in the future unless you plead to a different offense than domestic assault.