Domestic Criminal Charges

Domestic Assault, Felony Assault, Other Crimes Alleged to be Domestic-Related

Minneapolis Criminal Lawyer Thomas C. Gallagher
Thomas Gallagher, Minneapolis Defense Attorney
Thomas Gallagher, Minneapolis Defense Attorney

This page provides information about Minnesota domestic assault and other domestic relationship-based criminal charges, and defenses (including Minnesota self-defense law); as well as information about the related-services offered by Domestic Assault Attorney Thomas C. Gallagher, of GALLAGHER CRIMINAL DEFENSE.

Gallagher has been representing defendants and sometimes witnesses (prosecutor’s victims) in these cases since 1988.  Gallagher has education and experience that help him be effective as a domestic assault attorney, including education in Psychology, the study of family violence issues, exoneration of the falsely accused, and experience as Respondent’s counsel in mental health court (chemical dependency and mental illness issues).

The Relationship Element

What makes these criminal charges “domestic?”  Most, if not all, “domestic” crimes are variations of crimes which include a “domestic” relationship between the accused and the prosecutor’s victim.

The types of relationships that qualify as domestic are defined by Minnesota statutes in an expansively broad way.  For example, two male college roommates in a love triangle fighting over a girl were charged with “domestic assault” based on being roommates, in one of Gallagher’s cases.  (Don’t worry; Gallagher helped that client win the case.)

Types of domestic criminal charges

Misdemeanor domestic assault is sometimes charged as 5th degree assault (which does not include a relationship element).  Domestic violence charges can include not only domestic assault charges, but also every degree of felony assault, misdemeanor assault (gross misdemeanor and simple misdemeanor assault), “terroristic threats,” interference with an emergency call (interference with a 911 call), criminal sexual conduct, child neglect, child endangerment, child abuse, stalking and harassment crimes, violation of an Order for Protection (OFP), or a Harassment Restraining Order (HRO) or a Domestic Abuse No Contact Order (DANCO).

Defenses

Self-Defense:  Many domestic assault cases involve a defense based upon Minnesota self-defense law.

False Reports:  Another common fact pattern in these cases is false or inaccurate accusations, distorted by the accuser’s strong emotions at the time of the police report, influenced by the relationship history.  And, almost always, alcohol was involved and influenced emotions, perception and reporting of events.

Fifth Amendment Privilege:  In many cases, what was a mutual assault could get both parties charged with a crime, or sometimes only one.  In this situation, an effective defense can often involve getting both parties their own witness attorney, to checkmate the prosecution.  All the other defenses can be available as well.

Achieving Good Outcomes – What Is At Stake

These are serious cases, with severe consequences – not only for the accused (if convicted) but also for all the people close to the accused, connected to him or her.  All can be damaged as a result of a successful prosecution of one of these charges (and the resulting reduction in annual income, reduced child support, deportation, etc.).

What you can do

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Retain the best criminal defense attorney possible

The most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your family from these damaging consequences of prosecution is to retain the best criminal defense attorney possible.  With over 30 years experience winning cases involving domestic violence charges, Thomas Gallagher is in a position to provide his clients with the best possible defense in every case he handles.

Gallagher works on his clients’ cases personally.  He does not hand them off to a young Associate “on the team.”  After you hire him to handle your case, you’ll get the real deal — Gallagher himself — personal representation.

As you can see elsewhere on this website, Thomas Gallagher has been rated one of the top 5% of criminal defense lawyers in Minnesota, by several different organizations utilizing peer reviews.  Put his experience to work for you.  You can win.  And Gallagher can help make sure that happens.

Domestic-related criminal charges are some of the most serious, and potentially unreliable claims made in the courts today. They have the highest rate of dismissal of any type of criminal case.

Your choice of defense attorney can make the difference between conviction and dismissal or acquittal.

“Hell hath no fury like a lover scorned?”  Is there truth in that ancient idea?  Emotions can run high, especially with alcohol, in relationships as people try to work out their conflicts.  Sometimes feelings of hate, revenge, “sour grapes,” as well as anger, power and control issues can cause a person to turn against their loved one, and even sometimes make a false claim against them.  This may be done in a hot moment of strong emotion, as in a 911 call or an initial report to responding police officers, only to be regretted and recanted later.

Other times it may be planned, coldly and rationally, as part of a strategy to “beat” the former loved one – for example, where there is a divorce or child custody battle planned or pending in court.

It can even be a twisted way of maintaining a connection, even a destructive one.

Cast in the Victim Role

Refusing to be a victim
Refusing to be a victim

Even where the complainant (prosecutor’s “victim”) begs and pleads with the prosecuting attorney to drop the charges against their loved one, either because the initial report to police was untrue, misunderstood or simply because the complainant does not want their loved one prosecuted – typically the prosecuting attorneys do their best to ignore these pleas as long as they can.

This, despite the fact that there is a victim’s rights statute in Minnesota requiring prosecuting attorneys to listen to “victim’s” desired outcomes.  Often, complainants end up going to defense lawyers like Gallagher for help, and for a voice in the legal process – either as defendant’s counsel or as the witness attorney.

The Government as Abuser

How does prosecutor’s taking power away from “victims” of alleged abuse help to empower them to control their own lives?  Is the Government an “Abuser” – making their “victim” powerless; weakening them; teaching them learned helplessness?

Is this really a situation of governmental paternalism, “Big Brother,” taking over and controlling the lives of passive “victims” against their will, against their wishes, and against their interests?

A great example of how the government’s lawyers disempower their “victims” is the pretrial “no contact order” and the Domestic Abuse No Contact Order (or “DANCO“).  Prosecuting Attorneys generally resist dropping them, despite pleading from their “victims.”  For information about how to get rid of them, see our linked article: How to Get Rid of a Domestic Abuse No Contact Order in Minnesota.

Conflict of Interest

Some prosecutors would have it both ways.   They represent the State, and pretend to represent the victim’s interests in court.

On the one hand, they “don’t represent the victim, so we don’t have to drop the no contact order or drop the charges even though the victim is pleading for that.”

And on the other hand, they resist, undermine and try to stop their “victim” from directly addressing the judge to plead for dropping the no contact orders and the charges, even as they claim to represent the “victim’s” interests.

Of course, the fact that the prosecutor is “not the victim’s lawyer” is a telling admission that they do not represent their interests.  This is glaringly obvious when they argue against what the “victim” is pleading for – dropping the no contact order and dismissing the charges.

Minnesota’s Victims Rights statute has giant loopholes that prosecutors can leisurely stroll through.  This kind of conflict-of-interest is addressed in the ethics rules for lawyers, but so far courts have not stopped it or created an official role for the victim or his or her attorney to prevent the conflict.  We must take the initiative and appeal directly to the judge to be heard.

Gallagher has no conflicts of interest in any given case, since he either represents the defendant, or the alleged victim — but never pretends to represent both.

Holding the Government to its Burden of Proof

Since the burden of proof rests with the prosecution, what actual evidence is there?  Is there nothing more than a naked accusation, without corroboration?

The jury has an important role as the last defense of human rights and liberty under the Constitution.  Our job is to challenge the prosecution case and expose its weakness.

A person can be convicted of a domestic-related crime based solely on the uncorroborated claims of a single witness, one with an axe to grind, an agenda.  It’s important to have the best defense possible in the circumstances to prevent that.

Avoiding the Consequences of a Conviction

UnemployedMarchThe consequences of a conviction can be both severe and far-reaching.  Beyond the well-known consequences of incarceration in jail or prison, for the vast majority of cases involving people accused for the first time a lifelong criminal record will have severe consequences.  Just being arrested and accused of a crime is damaging.  Pleading guilty or being convicted are much worse.  This can result in:

  • Reduction in annual income earning potential, for life; lost job opportunities (individual and family); reduced child support
  • Professional and occupational license loss
  • Increase in health and other insurance premiums
  • Damage to credit report and rating
  • Deportation or Removal from the United States (of non-citizens, including “Permanent Residents”)
  • Gun and firearms civil rights loss
  • Public criminal record

Gallagher has been defending people and their families from domestic-related criminal charges (claims) for over 30 years, including:

  • Domestic Assault claims, including Assault First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Degree charges.
  • Violation of an Order for Protection (OFP) claims
  • “Terroristic threats” claims
  • Kidnapping and false imprisonment claims.
  • Felony strangulation assault claims
  • Murder claims
  • Interfering with a 911 Call, interfering with an emergency call, claims
  • Child Abuse or Neglect claims
  • Malicious Punishment of a Child
  • Aggravated Assault claims
  • Minnesota Criminal Sexual Conduct

Thomas Gallagher has been successfully defending people from domestic-related criminal charges since 1988.  Give Gallagher a call to discuss your criminal matter: 612 333-1500