Victim Safety & Funding in Minnesota Domestic Violence Cases | Attorney Aaron Hall

Victim Safety & Funding in Minnesota Domestic Violence Cases

Need Help?

Minnesota Domestic Violence Crisis Line: 1-866-223-1111
Minnesota Domestic Abuse Project: 612-874-7063
National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

Safety Provisions:

Electronic Monitoring to Protect Domestic Abuse Victims

Courts may not order an offender convicted of a designated crime 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. 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. The designated crimes for which this applies include violation of an Order for Protection; 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.

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 & 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 on 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.


Funding for Battered Women’s Shelters and Services

Battered women’s shelters and services receive funding through the collection of fines. Courts are required to collect fines under the criminal code and to forward 70 percent of each mandatory minimum fine collected to a local victim assistance program that provides services locally in the county in which the crime was committed. A “victim assistance program” means victim witness programs within county attorney offices or crime victim crisis centers, victim-witness programs, battered women’s shelters and nonshelter programs, and sexual assault programs. Minn. Stat. § 609.101.

Battered women’s shelters and services also receive funding through the Department of Corrections. In 1998, Governor Carlson issued a reorganization order that transferred the crime victim services functions of the Department of Corrections, Department of Administration, and the Department of Public Safety to the Crime Victim Ombudsman and, ultimately, to a new office known as the Center for Crime Victim Services. In 2003, Governor Pawlenty consolidated crime victim services further by creating the Crime Victim Services Unit in the Office of Justice Programs. The explanation continues to refer to the Department of Corrections because the statute has not been updated.

The Commissioner of Corrections is required to award grants to programs that provide emergency shelter services to battered women and support services to battered women, domestic abuse victims, and their children. The commissioner also is to award grants for training, technical assistance, and for the development and implementation of educational programs to increase public awareness of the causes of battering, the solutions to preventing and ending domestic violence, and the problems faced by battered women and domestic abuse victims. The grants are to be awarded in a manner that ensures that they are equitably distributed to programs serving metropolitan and nonmetropolitan populations. Any public or private nonprofit agency may apply for a grant. The application must comply with the statutory guidelines. Every public or private nonprofit agency that receives a grant to provide services must comply with all rules established by the commissioner related to the administration of pilot programs. Minn. Stat. § 611A.32.

Funding for Parenting-Time Centers

The Commissioner of Education is authorized to award grants of up to $50,000 for the purpose of creating or maintaining parenting-time centers. These centers are designed to reduce children’s vulnerability to violence and trauma related to parenting time when there is a history of domestic violence or abuse within the family. In 2003, as part of Governor Pawlenty’s Reorganization Order No. 187, the responsibility for overseeing the parenting-time centers was transferred from the Department of Children, Families and Learning (now renamed the Department of Education) to the Department of Public Safety. The explanation of the program refers to the Department of Education because the statute has not been updated.

Grants are to be provided to the greatest possible number of centers and to provide the broadest possible geographic distribution of centers throughout the state. Proposed centers must meet standards developed by the commissioner to ensure the safety of the custodial parent and children. These centers serve as a healthy interactive environment for parents who are separated or divorced and for parents with children in foster care to visit with their children. The centers also are used as a neutral place where parents who are ordered to have no contact with one another can exchange children for visitation. Centers also may provide parenting and child development classes and offer support groups to participating custodial parents. The centers may hold regular classes designed to assist children who have experienced domestic violence and abuse.

Centers are required to have on staff, on their board, or otherwise available to them for consultation, an individual knowledgeable about or experienced in the provision of services to battered women and domestic abuse victims. Minn. Stat. § 119A.37.

Exclusions from Application of Other Laws
The following laws specifically exempt proceedings under the Domestic Abuse Act from their application:

Judicial arbitration
The establishment of a mandatory, nonbinding arbitration system within a judicial district to assist the court in disposing of controversies may not be used to handle proceedings under the Domestic Abuse Act. Minn. Stat. § 484.73.

Minnesota Civil Mediation Act
The Minnesota Civil Mediation Act does not apply to proceedings under the Domestic Abuse Act. Minn. Stat. § 572.40.

Alternative Dispute Resolution Program
Minnesota’s alternative dispute resolution program for civil cases may not be required in proceedings under the Domestic Abuse Act. Minn. Stat. § 484.76.

Community Dispute Resolution Program
Minnesota’s community dispute resolution program does not apply to proceedings under the Domestic Abuse Act. Minn. Stat. § 494.03.

Conciliation Court Jurisdiction
Conciliation courts do not have jurisdiction over proceedings under the Domestic Abuse Act. Minn. Stat. § 491A.01.

Streamlined Marriage Dissolution Procedure
A couple may not dissolve their marriage through a streamlined procedure if either party has been a victim of domestic abuse by the other. Minn. Stat. § 518.195.