Violation of an OFP

Minnesota law provides misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, and felony penalties for a violation of an OFP issued under the Domestic Abuse Act or under a similar law of another state, the District of Columbia, tribal lands, or U.S. territories. In addition, any violation of an OFP constitutes contempt of court and is subject to the penalties for contempt.

A knowing violation of an OFP is a misdemeanor.4 The penalty is a gross misdemeanor if the person knowingly violates an OFP within ten years of a previous qualified domestic violence- related offense conviction or adjudication of delinquency. The penalty is a five-year felony if the person knowingly violates the order within ten years of the first of two or more previous qualified domestic violence-related offense convictions or adjudications of delinquency. Felony penalties also apply to persons who commit the violation while possessing a dangerous weapon.

The law provides minimum sentences upon misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, and felony convictions. The law also requires the court to order the defendant to participate in counseling or other appropriate programs selected by the court. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 14.

No-contact order

A court may issue a domestic abuse no-contact order (DANCO) against a defendant in a criminal proceeding for domestic abuse, harassment or stalking of a family or household member, violation of an OFP, or violation of a prior no-contact order.

A knowing violation of a no-contact order is a misdemeanor.5 If a person violates a no-contact order within ten years of a previous qualified domestic violence-related offense, the person is guilty of a gross misdemeanor. A person is guilty of a five-year felony if the person violates a no-contact order: (1) within ten years of the first two or more previous qualified domestic violence-related offense convictions or adjudications of delinquency; or (2) while possessing a dangerous weapon. The law provides minimum sentences upon gross misdemeanors and felony convictions. The court may also order the defendant to participate in counseling. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 22.

Qualified domestic violence-related offense

The term “qualified domestic violence-related offense” includes the following offenses:

  • violation of domestic abuse order for protection
  • violation of domestic abuse no-contact order
  • murder in the first and second degree
  • assault in the first through fifth degree
  • domestic assault
  • domestic assault by strangulation
  • criminal sexual conduct in the first through fourth degree
  • malicious punishment of a child
  •  terroristic threats
  • violation of harassment restraining order
  • harassment/stalking
  • interference with an emergency call
  • similar laws of other states, the United States, the District of Columbia, tribal lands, and U.S. territories

Minn. Stat. § 609.02, subd. 16.

A qualified domestic violence-related offense may be used to enhance the crimes of domestic assault, assault in the fifth degree, violation of a restraining order, harassment, and violation of an order for protection.

Domestic assault

It is a misdemeanor to intentionally inflict or attempt to inflict bodily harm against a family or household member, or to commit an act with intent to cause fear of immediate bodily harm or death against a family or household member. The penalty for the assault becomes a gross misdemeanor if the actor commits the assault within ten years of a previous qualified domestic violence-related offense conviction or adjudication of delinquency against a family or household member. The penalty for the assault becomes a five-year felony if the actor commits the assault within ten years of two or more previous qualified domestic violence-related offense convictions or adjudications of delinquency. Minn. Stat. § 609.2242.

Sentencing for domestic assaults

A person who is convicted of a gross misdemeanor domestic assault must be sentenced to a minimum of 20 days imprisonment, and at least 96 hours of the sentence must be served consecutively. The minimum sentence may be stayed on the condition that the person sentenced complete anger therapy or counseling and fulfill any other condition ordered by the court. In sentencing a person who is convicted of a domestic assault felony, the court must presume that a stay of execution with at least a 45-day period of incarceration as a condition of probation shall be imposed and that at least 15 days must be served consecutively. Also, in felony cases, if the defendant’s criminal history score indicates a presumptive executed sentence, that sentence must be imposed unless the court departs from the sentencing guidelines as provided by law. Minn. Stat. § 609.2243.

Presentence domestic abuse investigations. A presentence domestic abuse investigation must be conducted and a report must be submitted to the court by the corrections agency responsible for conducting the investigation:

  • when a defendant is convicted of an offense described in subdivision 2 of the Domestic Abuse Act; 6
  • when a defendant is arrested for committing an offense described in subdivision 2 of the Domestic Abuse Act, but is convicted of another offense arising out of the same circumstances surrounding the arrest; or
  • when a defendant is convicted of (a) violating a Domestic Abuse Act OFP, (b) violating a harassment restraining order against a family or household member, (c) making terroristic threats against a family or household member, or (d) making harassing or obscene telephone calls against a family or household member.

The report must include the circumstances of the offense; its impact on the victim; and the defendant’s prior record, characteristics and history of alcohol and chemical use problems, and amenability to domestic abuse programs. The report also must include recommendations on limitations on contact with the victim and other measures to ensure the victim’s safety; recommendations for domestic abuse counseling or education, or other programming for the defendant; and consequences for failure to abide by conditions set up by the court.

If no level of care or action is recommended, the report must explain why no recommendation is made. Minn. Stat. § 609.2244.

Fifth-degree assault

It is a gross misdemeanor to assault the same victim within ten years of a previous qualified domestic violence-related offense conviction or adjudication of delinquency. It is also a gross misdemeanor to assault any person within three years of a previous qualified domestic violence-related offense conviction or adjudication of delinquency.

A five-year felony applies under the above circumstances if the offender had two or more previous qualified domestic violence-related offense convictions or adjudications of delinquency. Minn. Stat. § 609.224.

Domestic assault by strangulation

A person is guilty of a three-year felony if the person assaults a family or household member by strangulation. “Strangulation” is defined as “intentionally impeding normal breathing or circulation of the blood by applying pressure on the throat or neck or by blocking the nose or mouth of another person.” Minn. Stat. § 609.2247.

First-degree murder

A person is guilty of murder in the first degree if the person causes the death of another, without premeditation or intent, while committing domestic abuse if the perpetrator has engaged in a past pattern of domestic abuse upon the victim or upon another family or household member and the death occurs under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to human life. Minn. Stat. § 609.185.

Second-degree murder

A person is guilty of murder in the second degree if the person causes the death of another, while intentionally inflicting or attempting to inflict bodily harm upon the victim, when the perpetrator is restrained under an OFP and the victim is designated to receive protection under the order. For the purposes of second-degree murder, an order for protection includes an OFP issued under chapter 518B, a harassment restraining order issued under section 609.748, a court order setting conditions of pretrial release or conditions of a criminal sentence or juvenile court dispotate or of the United States that is similar to any of these orders. Minn. Stat. § 609.19.

Criminal harassment

Minnesota law provides gross misdemeanor and felony penalties for various types of harassing conduct. “Harass” means engaging in intentional conduct which (1) the actor knows, or has reason to know, would cause the victim to feel frightened, threatened, oppressed, persecuted, or intimidated; and (2) does cause this reaction on the part of the victim. For a conviction under this law, the prosecutor does not need to prove that the actor intended to cause the victim to feel frightened, threatened, oppressed, persecuted, or intimidated.

Gross misdemeanor harassment crimes include making threats, stalking or pursuing another, returning to the property of another without claim of right to the property or consent, making repeated phone calls or inducing a victim to make phone calls, making someone’s telephone repeatedly ring, repeatedly mailing or delivering objects to a person (including electronically), repeatedly sending messages to a person, or knowingly making false allegations against a peace officer concerning the officer’s performance of official duties with intent to influence or tamper with the officer’s performance of official duties.

Felony penalties apply to persons who commit repeat violations of the harassment laws; commit certain “aggravated” harassment crimes, such as engaging in harassing conduct in order to tamper with a juror or judicial proceeding, or retaliate against a judicial officer or attorney in connection with a judicial proceeding; engage in a pattern of harassment that is directed at an individual person or household and that causes the victim to feel terrorized or fear bodily harm; or harass a victim who is under the age of 18, if the actor is more than 36 months older than the victim. Minn. Stat. § 609.749.

A mandatory minimum penalty applies when a person used a dangerous weapon in any way during the commission of the crime. If the dangerous weapon is a firearm, a three-year penalty applies for the first offense, and a five-year penalty applies to subsequent offenses. The penalty for firearms applies even if the firearm is possessed, but not used, at the time of the offense. If the dangerous weapon is not a firearm, a one-year and a day penalty applies to the first offense, and a three-year penalty applies to subsequent offenses. Minn. Stat. § 609.11.

Violation of a harassment restraining order

Victims of harassment may seek and obtain civil relief from harassment under the harassment restraining order law. Harassment can include harassing acts directed toward a family or household member, but there is no requirement that the person for whom protection is sought be a family or household member. The procedures for obtaining a harassment restraining order are similar to the procedures for obtaining an OFP.

A person who knowingly violates a harassment restraining order commits a misdemeanor. The penalty is a gross misdemeanor if the person knowingly violates the restraining order within ten years of a previous qualified domestic violence-related offense conviction or adjudication of delinquency. The penalty is a five-year felony if the person knowingly violates the order within ten years of the first of two or more previous qualified domestic violence-related offense convictions or adjudications of delinquency. Felony penalties also apply to persons:

  • who commit an offense by falsely impersonating another;
  • while possessing a dangerous weapon;
  • against a victim under age 18, if the respondent is more than 36 months older than the victim;
  • with an intent to influence or tamper with a juror or judicial proceeding or officer of the court in connection with judicial proceedings; or
  • because of the victim’s or another’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age, or national origin.

Minn. Stat. § 609.748.

Terroristic threats

A person who threatens to commit any crime of violence with the purpose to terrorize another, to cause evacuation of a building, or in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror is guilty of a five-year felony. A person who displays, exhibits, brandishes, or otherwise employs a replica firearm or a BB gun in a threatening manner, is guilty of a one- year felony if, in doing so, the person either causes or attempts to cause terror in another person, or acts in reckless disregard of the risk of causing terror in another person. This law applies to a person who commits a crime against a family or household member or any other person. Minn. Stat. § 609.713.

Trespass on battered women’s shelter property

It is a gross misdemeanor to trespass on the grounds of a battered women’s shelter or a facility providing transitional housing for battered women and their children, without claim of right or consent, and to refuse to depart on the demand of one who has the right to consent. Minn. Stat. § 609.605, subd. 2.

Interference with facility access. It is a gross misdemeanor to intentionally and physically obstruct any individual’s access to or egress from a facility. The term “facility” is defined broadly to include a variety of places providing health and safety services and includes a battered women’s shelter and facilities providing transitional housing for battered women and their children. Minn. Stat. § 609.7495.


This and any related posts have been adopted from the Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department’s Information Brief, Domestic Abuse Laws in Minnesota - An Overview, written by legislative analyst Judith Zollar.

This post is also part of a series of posts on Domestic Abuse in Minnesota.

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  • Family Court Lawyers
    May 1, 2012, 5:09 am

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