Giancola-Durkin, P.A.

The definition of domestic violence quietly changed

Changes quietly started at the Department of Justice’s Office for Violence against Women as officials slowly modified the definition of domestic violence since April 2018. The new definition is significantly limited regarding what criminal charges are available to victims.

The previous definition, under the Obama administration, recognized domestic abuse as a pattern of deliberate behaviors to control the dynamics of a relationship through physical or sexual violence. The former definition also included emotion, economic or psychological abuse as domestic abuse.

The new definition focuses more on sexual and physical harm over other forms of abuse. For example, if a partner isolates you from family members or friends, it would not be considered domestic violence under the new standards of domestic abuse.

Experts expressed concerns over the new definition and the quiet nature it had during the change. They believe it neglects a signification population of women who experience psychological abuse from a partner, but it’s too early to see the full effects of the definition changes on the state level.

Minnesota’s views on domestic violence

While the administration changed the definition of domestic abuse at the federal level, Minnesota courts continue to see physical harm or the fear of physical harm as domestic abuse. It can be against a partner or their children, relatives, friends, etc.

If someone is convicted of domestic assault, they will receive a gross misdemeanor with a fine as high as $3,000 and a minimum of 20 days in jail. There are also implications for gun rights and domestic violence convictions – such as no gun permits for at least three years after a sentence.

Luckily, the new changes may help those accused of false allegations of abuse from a former partner. You will still need to provide evidence and a strong defense during your time in court.

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