Domestic Assault

According to the Minnesota Domestic Abuse Act, “domestic abuse” means the following, if committed against a family or household member by a family or household member:
  1. Physical harm, bodily injury, or assault; 
  2. The infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, or assault; or 
  3. Terroristic threats or interference with an emergency call.
A family or household member can be any of the following:
  1. Spouses and former spouses 
  2. Parents and children 
  3. Persons related by blood 
  4. Persons who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past 
  5. Persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time 
  6. A man and woman if the woman is pregnant and the man is alleged to be the father, regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time 
  7. Persons involved in a significant romantic or sexual relationship 

Qualified Domestic Violence-related Offense and Enhancements

Qualified domestic violence-related offenses can enhance the level of charging if the offender commits a new domestic abuse crime. The level of offense for domestic abuse can be enhanced to a gross misdemeanor or felony level if a weapon is used during the offense and if repeated convictions occur within a specific time period of a qualified domestic violence-related offense.

A qualified domestic violence-related offense can include the following:
  • Violation of domestic abuse no contact order (DANCO), order for protection (OFP), or harassment restraining order 
  • First- through fifth-degree assault 
  • Domestic assault 
  • Female genital mutilation 
  • Domestic assault by strangulation 
  • First- through fourth-degree criminal sexual assault 
  • Malicious punishment of a child 
  • Terroristic threats 
  • Harassment/stalking 
  • Interference with an emergency call 
  • Similar laws of other states, the United States, the District of Columbia, tribal lands, and United States territories 
Under Minnesota statute, whoever assaults a family or household member by strangulation is guilty of a felony and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than three years. “Strangulation” is defined as “intentionally impeding normal breathing or circulation of the blood by applying pressure on the throat or neck or by blocking the nose or mouth of another person.”


Stalking is defined as engaging in intentional conduct which the actor knows or has reason to know would cause the victim under the circumstances to feel frightened, threatened, oppressed, persecuted, or intimated; and causes this reaction on the part of the victim. The state is not required to prove the actor’s specific intent to cause the victim to feel frightened, threatened, oppressed, persecuted, or intimidated. Stalking can be prosecuted as either a felony or gross misdemeanor.


If a person is convicted of stalking or harassment under section 609.749, the court shall prohibit the defendant from possessing a pistol for three years from the date of the conviction.

Law Enforcement Assistance to Domestic Abuse Victims

The officer shall provide immediate assistance to the victim, including assisting the victim in obtaining necessary medical treatment, regardless of whether or not the officer makes an arrest or not. The law enforcement officer responding to a domestic violence incident, whether or not an arrest is made, shall tell the victim about available services in the community and give the victim notice of the legal rights and remedies available. If you are the victim of domestic violence, you can ask the city or county attorney to file a criminal complaint.

You also have the right to go to court and file a petition requesting an order for protection from domestic abuse. The order could include the following:
  1. An order restraining the abuser from further acts of abuse; 
  2. An order directing the abuse to leave your household; 
  3. An order preventing the abuser from entering your residence, school, business, or place of employment; 
  4. An order awarding you or the other parent custody of or parenting time with your minor child or children; 
  5. An order directing the abuser to pay support to you and the minor children if the abuser has a legal obligation to do so. 

Notice of Release from Custody

Before the release of a person arrested or juvenile detained for domestic abuse, harassment, or violation of an order for protection or domestic abuse no contact order, the agency having custody of the person or its designee must make a reasonable and good faith effort to inform orally the alleged victim, and, at the victim’s request, any local battered women’s and domestic abuse programs of:
  1. The conditions of release, if any; 
  2. The time of release; 
  3. The time, date, and place of the next scheduled court appearance of the arrested person and the victim’s right to be present at the court appearance; 
  4. If the person arrested is charged with domestic abuse, the location and telephone number of the area battered women’s shelter. 
A copy of the written order and written notice of the above information must then be personally delivered or mailed to the victim as soon as practicable.

Notice of Decision Not to Prosecute

A prosecutor is required to make a good faith effort to notify a victim of domestic assault, sexual assault, or harassment that he or she has decided to decline prosecution of the case or to dismiss the criminal charges filed against the defendant.

Along with notice of a dismissal of charges, Minnesota statute requires the prosecutor to make a record of the specific reasons for the dismissal. If the dismissal is due to the unavailability of the witness, the prosecutor must indicate the specific reason that the witness is unavailable. The prosecution is also required to inform the victim of the method and benefits of seeking an order for protection or a restraining order, and that the victim may seek an order without paying a fee.

Domestic Abuse Victim’s Right to Terminate Lease

A tenant to a residential lease who is a victim of domestic abuse and fears imminent domestic abuse against the tenant or the tenant’s minor children if the tenant or the tenant’s minor children remain in the leased premises may terminate a lease agreement without penalty or liability in Minnesota Statutes.

The tenant must: 
1. Provide advance written notice to the landlord stating: 
  • (A) The tenant fears imminent domestic abuse from a person named in an order for protection or no contact order; 
  • (B) The tenant needs to terminate the tenancy; 
  • (C) The specific date the tenancy will terminate. 
2. The written notice must be delivered before the termination of the tenancy by mail, fax, or in person, and be accompanied by a copy of the order for protection or no contact order. 

The tenant will still be responsible for the rent payment for the full month in which the tenancy terminates and an additional amount equal to one month’s rent.

Communications with Domestic Abuse Advocates

A domestic abuse advocate may not be compelled to testify about any opinion or information received from or about the victim without the consent of the victim unless ordered by the court. A “domestic abuse advocate” is defined as an employee or supervised volunteer from a community-based battered women’s shelter and domestic abuse program eligible to receive grants, that provides information, advocacy, crisis intervention, emergency shelter, or support to victims of domestic abuse and who is not employed by or under the direct supervision of a law enforcement agency, prosecutor’s office, or by a city, county, or state agency.

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