When is a domestic assault a felony?
Domestic assault is an assault committed against a family or household member. An “assault” is an act committed with the intent to cause fear in another of immediate bodily harm or death; or the intentional infliction, or attempted infliction of bodily harm upon another. “Family or household members” include, spouses and ex-spouses; blood relatives; parents and children; those who currently reside together; parents of a child in common (whether they currently or have previously resided together or not); a pregnant woman and the alleged father (whether they currently or have previously resided together or not); and those involved in a significant romantic or sexual relationship.
In Minnesota, a domestic assault is typically a misdemeanor charge. However, domestic assault charges can be enhanced to a gross misdemeanor or a felony if the person has a conviction (or convictions) for a previous qualifying domestic violence-related offense. “Qualifying domestic violence-related offenses” include, violation of a domestic abuse Order for Protection (OFP), Harassment Restraining Order (HRO), or Domestic Abuse No Contact Order (DANCO); first and second-degree murder; first, second, third, fourth, or fifth degree assault; domestic assault; female genital mutilation; first, second, third, or fourth degree criminal sexual conduct; malicious punishment of a child; terroristic threats; stalking; sending private sexual images without consent; interference with an emergency call; and similar laws of other states.
Domestic assault charges will be enhanced to a felony if the assault occurred within 10 years of the first of two or more previous domestic violence/assault related convictions (or a gross misdemeanor with only one qualifying offense). If you’re convicted of a felony domestic assault, you can be sentenced to imprisonment for up to five years, the payment of up to a $10,000 fine, or both. Importantly, domestic assault by strangulation (intentionally impeding normal breathing or circulation of the blood by applying pressure to the throat or neck or by blocking the nose or mouth of a family or household member) is always a felony.