Have You Been Charged With
Domestic Violence or Abuse?
When the police are called on a domestic related offense, someone is going to get arrested. Gone are the days of spending the night at a friend’s house or sleeping it off at a hotel. Many times victims do not want an arrest to be made or even to press charges. Police and prosecutors will tell you that it is up to the state, and this is exactly why you need to consider getting an attorney involved…you need to have someone there to protect you.
First, you need to remain silent!
If you have been accused of domestic violence, there are some basic guidelines as to how you should interact with your accuser and the police. It is almost always best to remain silent and contact an attorney as soon as possible.
Domestic violence includes any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another by another family or household member.
When the police arrive
When the police receive a domestic violence call in Minnesota, they will usually arrest one of the parties after examining the evidence. Keep the following in mind when dealing with the police:
- Telling the police anything about what happened can and will be used against you in court. You are not legally required to tell the police anything other than to confirm your identity. Don’t let the police con or bully you into saying something you’ll regret.
- Be polite to the police. Angering or insulting the police will not help your case. You don’t want any reason for the court to look on you unfavorably.
When in custody
- Do not make or sign any written statement. Do not attempt to make a deal with the police as they have no authority to do so.
- Do not say anything on a jail phone that could incriminate you. If you use a phone while in jail, know that what you say is not private. Don’t call your accuser from jail; it could be construed as stalking.
- Cooperate with the guards and other inmates. If you cause problems, the judge will likely hear about it.
Typically, you will not be released from jail until you have seen a judge. The judge will set the bond and set certain conditions of release. These conditions of release include, but are not limited to, not contacting the victim, not returning to your home (except with police escort) and not possessing any weapons.
Do not violate the conditions. Violating a restraining order, ordered condition or contacting the victim could cause your bond to be revoked and you will be sent back to jail. Once released an attorney may be able to modify any and all of the conditions of release set by the initial judge.
- Contact an attorney immediately. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to get the terms of your release modified and will be an advocate for you when speaking with the prosecutor who is making the decision on whether or not to file charges.
If you are facing domestic violence charges in a Minnesota criminal court, you need to take careful steps to ensure your future freedom. Domestic violence charges can be serious. Depending on your specific case, you may be able to take measures to minimize the consequences in your situation.
7 Steps to Take when Charged
with Domestic Violence in Minnesota
- Hire an attorney who is an expert in criminal law and Minnesota domestic dispute cases.
- If you have been arrested, the judge in your case has discretion to let you out of jail until your case has been decided. You may be either released or allowed to post bail or not depending on the facts of your case and the judge’s discretion.
- Prepare a defense by gathering evidence that supports your innocence, if possible. You can also try to prove your good character in some cases. Your attorney will help you to plan a proper defense.
- A “no contact” order or a restraining order may be issued in your case, meaning you must stay away from the party who is seeking protection, usually your partner or spouse.
- Consider alternatives to jail time. Some judges in Minnesota will grant alternative programs to first-time offenders in domestic violence cases in the interest of fixing the problem. Jails are often over-crowded. You can ask your attorney to work with the prosecutor in your case and the judge to seek an alternative to jail if you plead out to a criminal charge or if you are found guilty in trial.
- If your sentence is stayed and you are offered an educational program or counseling program as an alternative to jail time, you must successfully complete the program to guarantee that you will not have to go to jail. The court may require that you appear at the end of the program with documentation and your case will be finalized at that time.
- You must meet specific requirements to have successfully completed a diversion program. This usually means that professionals who run the program must be able to state that you are not a violent threat to others.