Domestic violence is a behavior that is used to control/dominate an intimate partner. This kind of violence may include sexual, physical, emotional, economical or psychological threats/actions that negatively impact the well-being of another individual.
An act of domestic violence may include inflicting life-threatening harm, fear-provoking, intimidating, blaming or humiliating a family member. This can happen to anybody irrespective of their age, race, religion, status or gender. Domestic violence affects people across socioeconomic and educational backgrounds.
How Is Domestic Violence Defined in Minnesota?
According to the Statutes of Minnesota, domestic violence is defined as one/many of the below-mentioned actions committed by the accused on a family/household member:
- Physical harm, bodily harm or assault
- Infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily harm or assault
- Terroristic threats, criminal sexual conduct or interference with an emergency call
A family or household member is defined as:
- Spouse or former spouse
- Individuals in a significant sexual relationship
- Parents and children
- People related by blood
- Couples living together or who lived together in the past
- Individuals having a child in common irrespective of them being married or living together
The law considers the following circumstances to increase the severity of a domestic violence charge:
- Incidents that may cause substantial or great bodily harm
- If the domestic violence episode involves the use of a weapon
- If the incident has been committed due to bias or prejudice
- If the victim is a law enforcement officer
- If the victim belongs to any one of the vulnerable categories like a minor, disabled or elderly
Penalties for charges of domestic violence may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Jail term
- Heavy fines
- Community services
- Anger management
- Psychological evaluation
Other consequences may include:
- Difficulty with finding employment
- Issues with obtaining parental and custody rights
- Damage to reputation
What Are the Legal Rights for Victims of Domestic Violence?
The State laws of Minnesota grant well-defined rights for the victims of domestic violence.
- Orders for Protection
Victims of domestic violence can request an Order for Protection (OFP). This protects the offender from contacting the victim. It also reinforces that the abuser should necessarily stay away from the victim’s home, workplace, school or any other common place of use. Furthermore, an OFP can be requested by a parent to protect the rights of a minor child.
Victims can contact the court administration in their nearest county to file a petition for an OFP. The victim will not need to pay for these proceedings. Also, he/she is automatically granted paid leave from work if the process demands it. After an OFP has been approved, a copy of the same is sent to law enforcement. The law does not tolerate violations of the OFP. If the offender is found to do so, he/she may be punished severely.
- Tenant’s Rights
Once the victim is a tenant and has an OFP or no-contact order in place due to fear of domestic violence, they may terminate the lease with the landlord by providing notice in advance. Landlords cannot penalize their tenants for making emergency calls in serious circumstances of domestic abuse.
- Crime Victim’s Rights
Victims of domestic abuse earn a few rights during prosecutions. This includes the right to be informed about the prosecutor’s decision to dismiss a particular case or to be informed about the abuser’s release from custody.
- Protection against Financial Abuse
There are chances that the abuser has access to the victim’s financial information. To avoid misuse of this, the victim can request to freeze his/her credit reports. The victim may also contact the Social Security Administration for a unique Social Security number.
- Unemployment Benefits
Victims who have left their jobs voluntarily may not be entitled to these unemployment benefits. However, if the victim establishes the fact that he/she was forced to leave employment because of domestic violence, he/she may be eligible to obtain unemployment benefits.
What Are the Potential Defenses against Domestic Violence Charges in Minnesota?
If you have been charged with domestic violence, you must contact an experienced domestic violence lawyer to protect your rights. A domestic violence lawyer in Minnesota will be equipped with legal knowledge to offer the best representation possible. However, as every case depends on intricate details and the severity of the charges, lawyers will try their best to get your penalties minimized or even get the case dismissed, if possible.
The different types of defenses that can be used are as follows:
- Self Defense
Self-defense is the best strategy that can be used to prove innocence in a case of domestic violence. The defendant will need to convince the court with appropriate proof that the incident was due to the emotional outbursts of his/her partner and that the defendant was not the instigator of the complete episode. This approach may prove the point that the defendant hasn’t committed anything wrong. Evidence may necessarily include video surveillance records, audio records or statements from any person who has witnessed the incident.
- False Allegations
In a few cases, the defendant may say that the allegations levied are false. This may happen if the so-called victim needs an advantage in a divorce, child custody or has problems of mental instability. The lawyer will need to look into the details of the case and gather the best possible proof to support his/her client. This may include presenting alibis or proving that the victim has medical problems due to mental/emotional instability.
- Permission for Abuse
There are cases wherein both parties may be involved in abusive behavior. This defense is difficult to prove because the parties involved may not testify the happenings of the incident due to shame and embarrassment. Here, evidence such as a history of frequent hospital visits, statements from neighbors about violence, noises of pain, and verbal requests to stop the abuser can be used by the lawyer to prove fault. Furthermore, the testimonial from the affected individual is important.
Charges of domestic violence can be difficult to handle. The best way to deal with them is to seek recommendations from an experienced lawyer.
At Carlson & Jones P.A., will are well-equipped to protect your rights and present evidence favorably, based on your case details and the facts. We will also educate you about the rights of victims and possible penalties for abusers to give you a detailed view of the seriousness of domestic violence in Minnesota.
Get Aggressive Representation from Our Minnesota Domestic Violence Lawyer
To get a detailed view of domestic violation in the state of Minnesota and the possible defenses that can be used in your case, call our Minnesota domestic violence defense lawyers at (855) 976-2444 or contact us online today.