The Star Tribune reports today that the number of Minnesotans convicted of Felony Domestic Assault has risen dramatically in the past 10 years. The number of convictions has gone from 299 in 2003 to almost 1500 in 2013. And 315 of the defendants convicted in 2013 went to prison compared to only 44 individuals in 2003. The average term of those defendants sent to prison was two years.
One of the reasons for the increase in felony convictions has been the 2006 change to the domestic assault statute which expanded the list of prior-misdemeanor offenses that can be used to enhance a current charge to a felony assault. In addition, the look-back period for prior misdemeanor assaults was increased to 10 years and a perpetrator’s current crime no longer had to have the same victim to qualify as an enhanceable offense.
Another reason for the increase in felony convictions over the past decade is that in 2005, the legislature made domestic assault by strangulation a felony without regard to the severity of any injury to the victim. Before that, the crime was charged as a misdemeanor unless there were severe injuries to the victim
In addition, in 2007 the Minnesota Legislature created a specific domestic abuse no-contact order (DANCO) which must be issued by a judge in every case where a defendant is charged with any level of domestic abuse. A first time violation of a DANCO is a misdemeanor. If the defendant has a prior domestic assault conviction, a violation of a DANCO constitutes a gross misdemeanor. If the defendant has 2 or more domestic assault convictions, a violation of a DANCO is a felony carrying a maximum prison term of up to five years.
If you or a loved one have been charged with any level of a domestic assault crime, contact Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505. I will answer all of your questions concerning the charges and will explain the defenses we will pursue to obtain your acquittal.