The charge of felony strangulation is a serious offense in Minnesota as the crime places the life of the victim at risk. Strangulation is defined as the intentional impeding of breathing by applying pressure to the neck or throat or by blocking the nose or mouth of another person. The neck is a vulnerable place for applying pressure and unconsciousness can result in as little as 7-14 seconds. There may  be physical evidence of the crime in the form of bruising on the neck, damage to the larynx, and fractures to the bones in the neck. Usually there are no eye witnesses to the crime. A victim who contacts  police to report the crime will attempt to identify the strangler and typically provide a statement as to the events surrounding the assault. Oftentimes the suspect is someone the victim already knows.

If the case is weak from a defense perspective, in other words the prospect of losing at trial is great, the best option is to  acknowledge responsibility for the crime and take all necessary steps to reduce the likelihood of the crime ever being committed  in the future. Insuring public safety is the primary concern of both the judge and prosecutor. How is this done? The defendant will need to immediately have a chemical health  assessment to determine if alcohol or other drugs played a contributing role in the commission of the offense. All recommendations in the assessment should be followed while the case is pending. Secondly, issues related to anger management must be addressed through treatment options such as one on one counseling with a therapist, again, while the case is pending. The judge at the first court appearance will grant the prosecutor’s request for a domestic abuse no contact order preventing the suspect from having any form of  contact with the alleged victim. If the suspect and victim are in a relationship, it may be possible at some point to amend the no contact order to allow both parties to attend counseling for the purpose of repairing the relationship. This will bring the offender and victim closer together, help  insure the offense will not occur again, and improve the terms of the plea bargain.

I recently defended a client charged with felony Domestic Strangulation, gross misdemeanor Interference with a 911 Call, and misdemeanor Domestic Abuse. The case was weak from a defense perspective and the decision was made that the client should follow through with the steps recommended above. The case was resolved through a stay of imposition of sentence on a plea of guilty to Interference with a 911 Call. The conviction will convert to a misdemeanor upon successful completion of probation and the plea to this offense preserved the client’s right to possess a firearm.The plea agreement called for  a 15 day cap on   jail time.  At  sentencing, the defendant was ordered to continue with couples counseling and one on one therapy during a two year probation. No use of alcohol or non-prescription drugs was an additional condition of probation but the recommendation of probation for random testing was not required by the judge and no   jail time was imposed.

If you have been charged with the crime of felony strangulation, and would like to discuss your case during a free phone consultation, please call me at (612) 339-1024 for the “Best Defense.”