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Legal Information: Minnesota

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August 6, 2020

What crimes are considered domestic violence misdemeanors?

Here are the steps you can take to figure out if the abuser was convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor:

Step 1: You first need to know if the abuser was convicted of a misdemeanor crime either in state court or in federal court.1 A misdemeanor may have different definitions in each state but basically, it is a lesser crime than a felony. If you are unsure if the abuser was convicted of a misdemeanor, you can call the district attorney or prosecutor who handled the criminal case and ask him/her or go to the local criminal courthouse and try to do a search of his convictions.

Step 2: The next step is that you need to figure out if the crime involved either the use or attempted use of physical violence or force, or the threatened use of a deadly weapon.1 Again, if you are unsure, you might want to call the prosecutor who handled the case.

Step 3: The abuser must be either:

  • your current or former spouse;
  • your parent or guardian;
  • a person who you have a child in common with;
  • a person who is like a spouse, parent or guardian to you (whether or not you live/d with him/her). For example, this might be a long-term boyfriend or someone you share an intimate, personal relationship with.1

If all three of these steps apply to your situation, it is likely that the abuser was convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor.

Note: The crime may not have to specifically mention “domestic violence” in order for it to be considered a domestic violence misdemeanor, and for the federal firearm law to apply.2 The relationship that the victim has with the offender could determine whether or not the misdemeanor is a “domestic violence misdemeanor.” For example: If Bob is convicted of a misdemeanor assault against his wife, it is illegal for him to buy or have a gun. If Bob is convicted of a misdemeanor assault against his neighbor, he may still be able to have or buy a gun.

For more information, or if you are still confused, you might want to contact the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit at 1-800-903-0111 x 2.

1 18 USC 921(a)(33)(A); see Buster v. United States, 447 F.3d 1130 (8th Cir. 2006) for discussion of defining “as a spouse.”
2 See United States v. Hayes, 555 U.S. 415, 129 S.Ct. 1079 (2009)