Is Domestic Violence Always Physical?

In complicated relationships, situations can get out of hand easily. What starts as a small fight can escalate. Tempers can flare, and emotions can lead to acts of domestic violence. But where is the line, exactly? Does domestic violence have to be physical? 

How the Law Defines Domestic Violence in Minnesota

Minnesota’s Domestic Abuse Act (Minnesota Statute, Chapter 518B) outlines the law on domestic violence in our state. It defines what domestic violence is and what legal options exist to protect victims. These include an order for protection (also known as an OFP).

Under the Domestic Abuse Act, domestic violence is defined as certain conduct, if committed against a family or household member by a family or household member: 

  • Physical harm, bodily harm, or assault
  • Infliction of fear that physical harm, bodily harm, or assault is going to happen right away
  • Terroristic threats
  • Criminal sexual conduct
  • Interference with an emergency call

So, under the law in Minnesota, someone can become a victim of domestic violence, even if they have not been physically harmed. And it is possible for someone to face criminal charges, even if they never hit or physically hurt the other person.

Harassment in Minnesota

Penalties under the Domestic Abuse Act are in addition to other civil and criminal remedies that may be available by law. Therefore, other laws may apply to your case, too. 

For example, in Minnesota, there are gross misdemeanor and felony penalties for harassment.

Harassment can include actions that the harasser knows or should know would cause the victim to feel frightened, threatened, oppressed, persecuted, or intimidated. Anything from making threats to repeatedly calling or texting a person to delivering objects to that person can be considered harassment and is punishable by law. And the people involved do not need to be in a family relationship for the perpetrator to be charged with harassment.

Other Criminal Laws Related to Domestic Violence

Under Minn. Stat. § 609.748, threats of violence are a crime. A person who threatens, directly or indirectly, 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.

Trespassing at a battered women’s shelter or any facility that provides transitional housing to women and children is also a crime. So is tampering with a witness to encourage them not to testify in a domestic violence matter.

Get Legal Help When Domestic Violence is an Issue

If domestic violence or allegations of domestic violence have affected your life, contact a lawyer for help. The attorneys at White & Associates have extensive experience with family law and criminal defense, so we are well situated to represent you in complex domestic violence matters. To learn more about your next steps or answers to your questions, give us a call at 763-241-0477 or send us a message.

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