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Domestic Abuse

What to do if you are a Victim of a Domestic Assault or Related Crime
Getting Help

Order for Protection/Restraining Order

Federal Firearms Regulations

Definitions of Domestic Abuse

Domestic Related Crimes

Other Crimes

What To Do If You Are The Victim Of A Domestic Assault Or Related Crime.

Immediately call 911 for police and medical attention. If this is not an option, try to protect yourself as best you can and contact 911 as soon as possible. Try to provide as much information to the 911 call taker as possible. This includes the suspect's location and description, what happened, and if there were any weapons involved. If you know the location of a weapon, tell 911.

If you have injuries, police and medical personnel will attend to these injuries when they arrive.

Provide the responding police officers with as much information as you can. If the offender is still on the scene, direct officers to where that person is. Tell the officers what occurred prior to and during the incident, including what was said and if any threats were made. If a weapon was used, tell the officers its location if you know it and how it was used against you. Advise them of any witnesses to the incident including children who were present. Tell them of any past incidents that may have occurred. The officers may ask some delicate and personal questions. Do not be ashamed to answer them; they are for the purpose of further investigation.

Minneapolis police officers have received specialized training regarding the intricacies and different elements involved in domestic situations. They can offer you temporary shelter if needed and can direct you to the many services provided with in the community. They will provide you with a "blue card" that will have phone numbers to the services and other information about your rights as a victim.

After The Incident
If the offender has been arrested at the scene, several things will take place depending on what the offender was arrested for:

Felony Level. If the offender was arrested for a felony level crime, the person will be booked into the Hennepin County jail. A probable cause hold will be placed on this person. This hold is usually for about 36 to 48 hours depending on the day and time the person was arrested. An investigator from the Domestic Assault Unit will try to contact you. If you do not have a phone or are some place that the police might not know about, call (612) 673-3072 to contact the investigator who has your case.

The investigator will have reviewed the responding officer's report from the incident any previous reports. The investigator will again ask you about the incident. You will be asked more detailed questions about what happened and if you received injury. The investigator will also ask what you want to do about the case and if you are willing to assist in prosecuting the offender. If you decide not to assist in prosecution, it is very difficult for the investigator to prove the case and it will most likely be closed. If you do want to pursue the case, the investigator will most likely conduct an interview with you and may meet with you to take pictures and sign a medical records release. The investigator will also interview the offender and any witnesses. Further evidence may be requested or collected.

The investigator then presents the case to the county or city attorney. The county attorney handles all felony level cases and the city attorney handles gross misdemeanor and misdemeanor cases. The attorney will decide if the evidence merits charging the offender with a crime. The attorney will also look at the past history of the offender. All of this will occur in the 36 hour probable cause hold time. If charged, the offender will see a judge and bail will be set. The county/city attorney's office will contact you in the future regarding the case.

If the offender is not arrested at the scene, the investigator will most likely contact you and will proceed with the case as described above. This may take several days or weeks. If the county/city attorney decides to charge the offender, a warrant for the arrest of the offender will be issued.

Misdemeanor Level. If the offender was arrested for a misdemeanor crime, the person will be booked into the Hennepin County jail. Usually the next day, the offender will go in front of a judge and the city attorney will request either release or bail. If you want to have input into this procedure, contact the city attorney's office at (612) 673-2535. 

If the person was not arrested and a report was made by the officers, you will need to contact the city attorney's office to follow up on the case if you wish for something to occur. Misdemeanor crimes, including domestic assault, usually do not receive any investigation by the Police Department. Contact the city attorney's office for further information.

Getting Help

There are several agencies in the community which can provide you with assistance, including temporary shelter, legal assistance, counseling and referral services, advocacy programs, interpreter services, and children services.

The Hennepin County Domestic Abuse Service Center is an excellent source. They are located at the Hennepin County Government center, 300 S.6th St. # A-level 022. Phone 612-348-5073,TDD 348-2620.

The Service Center provides all of the services listed above and can assist you in obtaining an order for protection or harassment order. There is also a full time Minneapolis Police sergeant there to assist in investigation and a city/county attorney to assist in prosecution.

Order For Protection/Restraining Order

Once you have obtained an order for protection and if the offender violates it, you need to do several things. If the offender is near you or with you, call 911. Once the order for protection is confirmed, the offender can be arrested for this violation. If the offender is not at your location and is doing some thing to violate the order (such as calling on the phone), call 911 and a report can be taken over the phone about the violation. If you want to follow up on this incident, you will need to contact the city attorney's office to pursue criminal charges against the subject.

Federal Firearms Regulations

As of 1996, federal laws took effect regarding ownership/ possession of firearms or ammunition by persons convicted of domestic assault or are currently under the provisions of an order for protection/restraining order. Violations resulting from this may be federally charged. There is no "grandfather clause" regarding these new laws. Past convictions for domestic assault apply and can limit that person's ability to own or possess a firearm.

Definitions of Domestic Abuse

"Domestic abuse" means the following, if committed against a family or household member by a family or household member: (1) physical harm, injury or assault; (2) the infliction of fear of imminent harm, injury, or assault; (3) or terroristic threats.

"Family or household member" means: (1) spouses and former spouses; (2) parents and children; (3) persons related by blood; (4) persons who are presently residing together or have done so in the past; (5) persons who have a child in common regardless if they have been married or have lived together at any time; (6) a man and a woman if the woman is pregnant and the man is the alleged father regardless if they have been married or have lived together at any time; (7) persons involved in a significant romantic or sexual relationship.

Domestic Related Crimes

Assault. This is the most common crime that is reported to the Minneapolis police department Domestic Assault Unit. There are five levels of assault.

Assault in the first degree (Felony). When a victim sustains "great bodily harm" as the result of an assault. This means when bodily injury creates a high probability of death or causes serious permanent disfigurement or loss or impairment of a bodily member or organ.

Assault in the second degree (Felony). When a victim sustains harm or is subjected to the potential for harm through the suspect's use of a dangerous weapon (firearms, knives, or an object which can be construed as a dangerous weapon).

Assault in the third degree (Felony). When a victim sustains "substantial bodily harm" as the result of an assault. This means when bodily injury results in temporary but substantial disfigurement or impairment of a bodily member or organ.

Assault in the fourth degree (Felony). This level of assault is for law enforcement personnel who are victims of an assault while on duty or for bias motivated crimes.

Assault in the fifth degree (Misdemeanor). There are two parts to this level of assault that constitute fifth degree: when a victim sustains or the suspect attempted to inflict "bodily harm" which is defined as physical pain or injury not covered by the other levels of injury defined above, or when the suspect commits an act with the attempt to cause fear in the victim. Under this statute, the victim does not actually have to be assaulted but only be in fear of being assaulted for law enforcement to take action against the suspect.

Under this statute, misdemeanor assaults can be enhanced to the gross misdemeanor or felony level if the suspect has previous convictions for assault.

Other Crimes

Terroristic threats (Felony). When a victim is threatened with death or bodily harm by the suspect and that suspect has the ability to carry out this threat. Transitory or threats made "in the heat of passion" are usually not considered terroristic threats and are usually covered under the fifth degree statute.

Interfere with 911 calls (Gross Misdemeanor). If the suspect prevents a victim from making a 911 call for help, the suspect can be charged with this crime. The suspect must make an overt action such as pulling the phone cord out, breaking the phone, or other such action that prevents the call from being made.

Violation of an order for protection/restraining order (Misdemeanor). If a valid court ordered order for protection which has been served to both parties involved is violated, the person violating this order can be charged with this crime. This statute also allows for enhancement to gross misdemeanor or felony level charges if the suspect has previous convictions for this offense.

Other charges which may result from a domestic involved situation are: burglary, kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct, theft, damage to property, arson, stalking, probation/parole violation, and weapons violations.

Last updated Sep. 27, 2011