Minnesota Domestic Violence Laws

Domestic assault in Minnesota involves an assault against certain family members or specified others. The normal punishment for assault will be increased when the defendant has previously been convicted of domestic violence. Minnesota also punishes violations of protective orders.

For more information on assault crimes, see Minnesota Assault and Battery Laws, Minnesota Aggravated Assault Laws, and Assault With a Dangerous Weapon in Minnesota.

Domestic Assaults

A person commits the crime of domestic assault, a misdemeanor, by:

  • intentionally inflicting bodily harm (injury)
  • attempting to inflict bodily harm, or
  • committing any act intended to cause fear of imminent bodily harm or death against a member of the defendant's household or family.

Family and household members include spouses, former spouses, parents and children, people related by blood, people who live together or have lived together, people who have dated, people who have children together, and pregnant women and the alleged fathers of their children.

Strangling or suffocating a family or household member is a felony.

(Minn. Stat. § § 518B.01, 609.2242, 609.2247.)

Arrests for Domestic Abuse and Protective Order Violations

In Minnesota, an officer can make an arrest without a warrant if there is reason to believe the defendant committed domestic abuse (assault, bodily injury, threats, criminal sexual conduct, or interference with an emergency call) against a family or household member.

If a police officer has reason to believe a person has violated a protective order or no contact order, the officer must arrest the person (and need not obtain a warrant) and hold the person in jail for at least 36 hours (unless released earlier by a judge).

(Minn. Stat. § § 518B.01, 609.02, 629.341, 629.75.)

Protective Orders

A protective order is a court order requiring one person (the respondent) to stay away from or not contact another person (the petitioner). In Minnesota, it is a crime to violate a protective order.

Family and household members can file petitions for protective orders in civil court. If the protective order is for a child, the child’s guardian can file a petition. Another person over the age of 25 may also file, if it is in the child’s interest to do so.

Once the petition is filed, the court must usually order a hearing within 14 days, but the hearing cannot be held less than five days after the respondent has been served with (received a copy of) the petition.

After the hearing, if the court finds domestic abuse exists, it may issue an order:

  • prohibiting the respondent from committing domestic abuse
  • excluding the respondent from the petitioner’s residence or workplace, a shared dwelling, and a reasonable surrounding area
  • prohibiting the respondent from contacting the petitioner
  • awarding temporary custody and visitation of minor children
  • awarding temporary spousal support or child support
  • mandating continued insurance coverage
  • awarding temporary possession of any pets and prohibiting the respondent from abusing any pets
  • if requested by the petitioner, providing counseling for the petitioner and respondent if they are married or have children
  • requiring counseling or treatment for respondent
  • requiring respondent to pay restitution (repayment for costs incurred), and
  • mandating any other relief necessary for protection of petitioner.

The order remains in effect for up to two years. The court may extend the order for up to 50 years if the respondent appears to be a threat to the petitioner.

(Minn. Stat. § 518B.01.)

Ex parte order. In certain circumstances, a judge can grant a temporary protective order before holding a full hearing. The defendant does not receive notice and is not present when the judge issues the order. Known as “ex parte” orders, these are granted when the petitioner alleges an immediate danger of domestic abuse. Ex parte orders can:

  • prohibit the respondent from committing domestic abuse or contacting the petitioner
  • exclude respondent from petitioner’s residence or workplace
  • mandate continued insurance coverage, and
  • award temporary possession of any pets, or prohibiting respondent from abusing any pets.

The ex parte order is effect only for a set time or until a hearing is held.

(Minn. Stat. § 518B.01.)

No Contact Order

In addition to a protective order, which can be issued by a judge in civil court, Minnesota’s laws also allow a criminal court judge to issue a no contact order at any time during a criminal proceeding for domestic abuse, stalking against a family or household member, or violating a protective order (or domestic abuse no contact order). A no contact order prohibits the defendant from contacting the victim and violating such an order is a misdemeanor.

(Minn. Stat. § 629.75.)

Punishment for Domestic Violence

Domestic assault is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Domestic assault by strangulation or suffocation is punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. (Minn. Stat. § § 609.03, 609.2242, 609.2247.)

Prior domestic violence convictions

Simple assault and domestic assault are punished more severely when the defendant has previously been convicted (in Minnesota or elsewhere) of a qualified domestic violence-related offense against:

  • the victim in the past ten years, or
  • anyone in the past three years.

Qualified domestic violence-related offenses include murder, assault, domestic assault, criminal sexual conduct, threats, malicious punishment of a child, violating of a restraining order, stalking, or interfering with an emergency call.

If the defendant has one prior conviction, the assault is punishable by up to one year in jail and fine of up to $3,000.

If the defendant has previously been convicted of two or more crimes of domestic violence, the assault is punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.

(Minn. Stat. § § 518B.01, 609.02, 609.224, 609.2242, 609.2243.)

Firearm bans and forfeitures

If the defendant is convicted of domestic assault, simple or aggravated assault against a family or household member, or violating a protective order, the court must order the defendant to forfeit any firearm used in the offense. The court may, and sometimes must, prohibit the defendant from owning a firearm in the future. Violating the firearm ban is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $3,000.

(Minn. Stat. § § 518B.01, 609.2242.)

Violating a protective order or no contact order

Violating a protective order (whether issued by court in Minnesota or another state) or a no contact order when the defendant knows about the order, is punishable by 90 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and mandatory counseling. Violating a protective order is also contempt of court (disobeying a court’s order), punishable by a fine or time in jail.

If the court finds the defendant violated a protective order and there is reason to believe the defendant will continue to violate the order, the court can require the defendant to post a bond of $10,000 to ensure the order is not violated again. If defendant refuses to pay, the court can order defendant held in jail until the protective order expires.

Knowingly violating a protective order within ten years of a qualified domestic violence-related offense conviction is punishable by between one year in jail and five years’ imprisonment and a fine of $3,000 to $10,000.

(Minn. Stat. § § 518B.01, 588.02, 609.03, 629.75.)

Getting Legal Advice and Representation

If you are charged with a crime of domestic violence or served with a petition for a protective order, you should contact a Minnesota criminal defense attorney immediately. A protective order or a criminal conviction can have serious consequences. A criminal defense attorney will be able to help you navigate the court system and help you obtain the best possible outcome for your case.

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