Electronic monitoring to protect domestic abuse victims

Courts may not order an offender convicted of a designated crime12 against a family or household member, as a condition of a stay of imposition or execution of a sentence, to use an electronic monitoring device to protect a victim’s safety. 13

Stay conditions for assaulting spouse

If a person is convicted of assaulting a spouse or another person with whom the person resides, and the court places the defendant on probation, the court must condition the stay upon the defendant’s participation in counseling or another program selected by the court. Minn. Stat. § 609.135.

Electronic monitoring for offenders on work release

An offender who is sentenced for a domestic abuse offense is not eligible for electronic monitoring if on work release. Between times of employment, the inmate must be confined in jail, unless the court directs otherwise. Minn. Stat. § 631.425, subd. 4.

Tenant’s right to seek police and emergency assistance

A landlord cannot (1) bar or limit tenant calls for police or emergency assistance; or (2) penalize a tenant for making calls to request emergency assistance. A tenant cannot waive the right to make calls for assistance.

Inconsistent local ordinances or rules are preempted by this state law, including, without limitation, any ordinance or rule that (1) requires an eviction after a specified number of calls by a tenant for police or emergency assistance in response to domestic abuse or any other conduct; or (2) provides that calls by a tenant for police or emergency assistance in response to domestic abuse or any other conduct may be used to penalize or charge a fee to a landlord. The law does not preempt any local ordinance or rule that penalizes a landlord for or requires a landlord to abate conduct on the premises that constitutes a nuisance or other disorderly conduct as defined by local ordinance or rule.

A tenant may bring a civil action for a violation of this section and recover from the landlord $250 or actual damages, whichever is greater, and reasonable attorneys’ fees. The attorney general may investigate and prosecute violations of this section. Minn. Stat. § 504B.205.

Right of domestic abuse victims to terminate lease

A tenant who is a victim of domestic abuse and fears imminent abuse may terminate a residential lease agreement without penalty if the tenant provides advanced written notice to the landlord and pays rent for the full month in which the tenancy terminates, plus an additional month’s rent. The written notice must state the specific date the tenancy will terminate and be accompanied by an OFP or no-contact order. The lease continues for any remaining tenants. The landlord may not disclose any information provided by the tenant pertaining to the domestic abuse. The right of a domestic abuse victim to terminate a lease may not be waived. Minn. Stat. § 504B.206.

Address confidentiality program

A victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking may apply to the secretary of state to participate in the address confidentiality program. As a participant, the victim may designate the secretary of state as an agent for purposes of service of process and for receiving mail. A person may apply on behalf of a minor or incapacitated person. The program started September 1, 2007. Minn. Stat. §§ 5B.01 to 5B.08

Proximity to level III sex offenders

If an owner or property manager of a hotel, motel, apartment, or other lodging establishment has an agreement with an agency that arranges or provides shelter to victims of domestic abuse, the owner or manager may not knowingly rent rooms to both level III sex offenders and victims of domestic abuse at the same time. The owner or manager may evict the level III sex offender upon discovery of the situation. Minn. Stat. § 244.052, subd. 4a.

Family violence coordinating councils

In 1997, the legislature set guidelines for family violence coordinating councils and authorized a judicial district to establish a council for the purpose of promoting innovative efforts to deal with family violence issues.

The chief judge of the district is to appoint members of the council. The council is to develop a plan for coordinating activities of its membership relating to family violence issues and improving activities and services, including training and system issues, the delivery of services, approaches and needs in different demographic populations, protocols for investigation and prosecution of domestic abuse, coordination of city and county prosecutorial efforts, evaluation of the handling of domestic abuse matters, and coordination for family, juvenile, and criminal court proceedings involving family violence issues. Minn. Stat. § 484.79.

The 1997 law requires the Commissioner of Public Safety to make a grant to the Fourth Judicial District (Hennepin County) for the planning of a family violence coordinating council. Laws 1997, ch. 239, art. 2, § 13.

Domestic fatality review team

In 1999, the legislature authorized the fourth judicial district to establish a domestic fatality review team as a 30-month pilot project. The project was extended in 2002, 2004, and 2006, and is currently authorized through December 31, 2008.

The purpose of the project is to review domestic violence deaths in order to develop recommendations for policies and protocols for community prevention and intervention initiatives to reduce and eliminate the incidence of domestic violence and resulting fatalities.
The review team members must include a medical examiner, a judge or referee, a county and city attorney, a public defender, the county sheriff, a peace officer, a family court representative, a representative from the Department of Corrections, a public citizen, a mental health professional, and domestic violence advocates or shelter workers. Laws 1999, ch. 216, art. 2, § 27; Laws 2000, ch. 468, §§ 30-32; Laws 2002, ch. 266, § 1; Laws 2004, ch. 290, § 38; Laws 2006, ch. 260, art. 5, § 53.

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.

12 Designated crimes include violation of an OFP; assault in the first, second, third, or fifth degree and domestic assault; criminal damage to property; disorderly conduct; harassing telephone calls; burglary; trespass; criminal sexual conduct in the first, second, third, fourth, or fifth degree; and terroristic threats.

13 Pursuant to statute, this prohibition applied until the Commissioner of Corrections adopted standards governing electronic monitoring devices to protect victims of domestic abuse. In January 1993, the Department of Corrections submitted its findings to the legislature. Based on its findings, the DOC concluded that no standards should be adopted because the use of reverse electronic monitoring would not protect the safety of victims of domestic abuse.