Domestic violence is never a good situation. Often it is never just one singular outburst, but rather a series of escalated attacks that result in injuries that often could have been prevented with an arrest. To combat this, Minnesota and many other states are constantly adding new laws that aim to put those who commit domestic violence behind bars before they escalate in such a way that someone is actually killed. One of the more recent tools added to the law’s arsenal is the law that states that strangulation is now a felony offense. While this is meant to protect the victim, this accusation has a few blind spots to it as well.
Under the felony strangulation law, it is defined that any member of the family or household who impedes breathing or blood flow intentionally by applying pressure to the neck or blocking the nose and mouth is responsible for strangulation. This goes on to consider not only the use of bare hands, but using cordage, objects, and even plastic bags. Previously this act would only be charged as a misdemeanor, but as a felony it now carries the punishment of up to three years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.
The unfortunate reality, however, is while strangulation charges now carry heavy punishments, the evidence in these cases have always been classically weak. In many domestic violence cases, the argument often boils down to “he said, she said” due to the lack of any other reliable witnesses. The majority of the evidence comes in the form of the marks left on the person. Often the biggest items of “proof” in these cases are bruising, red marks, scratches, and breathing problems.
Furthermore, the felony strangulation laws do not often make exceptions in self-defense. If you were being attacked and restrained your spouse by the neck in order to protect yourself, if you leave marks and even if they left marks as well, this will still make you look incredibly guilty. It could be argued that you were strangling them and they left those marks to defend themselves.
It is this loophole that makes domestic violence so hard to defend, particularly if you are a man. So many men get railroaded for domestic violence, and yes, while there are violent men, we should not forget that there are violent women out there as well. This can have a lasting effect as well. Not only will you have to serve jail time and pay fines if convicted, but the felony charge that comes with strangulation will also show on background checks.
When defending felony strangulation, there are a few effective routes to take. The first is to prove your stability and your partner’s instability. If they have been violent in the past, this can be a good sign for your defense case. Furthermore, there are some instances where medical records can show that you were simply restraining your spouse rather than actively choking them.
However, regardless of evidence, defending yourself against felony strangulation charges is a long and difficult road. To make the ride a little easier, you need to invest in a skilled and experienced defense attorney. If you are staring down the barrel of felony strangulation charges in the Minneapolis area, contact us today. Judith Samson, Attorney at Law is dedicated to representing the rights of her clients and working tirelessly to make sure that their individual cases get the best possible results. If you aren’t sure about the unique facts of your case and if it can be won, come on in for a free case consultation and evaluation.