Admissible Evidence in Minnesota Domestic Violence Cases

Domestic Abuse

Similar Conduct, Similar Transactions, Rule 404 Evidence

Evidence of similar conduct by the accused against the victim of domestic abuse, or against other family or household members, is admissible in court unless the probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issue, or misleading the jury; or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence. The evidence that is admissible under this provision includes evidence of the following against a family or household member:

  • domestic abuse
  • violation of an OFP
  • violation of a harassment restraining order
  • harassment or stalking
  • making harassing or obscene telephone calls

Minn. Stat. § 634.20.

Battered Woman Syndrome Evidence (by Defense)

Expert testimony on battered woman syndrome is admissible to show self-defense. Expert testimony may be used to describe battered woman syndrome and the characteristics of the syndrome; expert testimony is not allowed on whether a particular individual suffers from battered woman syndrome. State v. Hennum, 441 N.W.2d 793 (Minn. 1989).

Battered Woman Syndrome Evidence (by Prosecution)

Expert testimony on battered woman syndrome also is admissible as part of the prosecution’s case-in-chief:

  • when it is presented after the alleged victim’s credibility has been attacked by the defense;
  • when it meets the requirements of Rule 702 of the Minnesota Rules of Evidence;
  • when it helps the jury understand the alleged victim’s behavior; and
  • where, in accordance with State v. Hennum, 441 N.W.2d 793 (Minn. 1989), the expert testimony is limited to a description of the syndrome and its characteristics, and the expert does not testify on the ultimate fact of whether the alleged victim actually suffered from battered woman syndrome.

State v. Grecinger, 569 N.W.2d 189 (Minn. 1997).

Docket priority

Criminal cases involving domestic abuse where the defendant is free on bail must be given docket priority over other cases on the district court’s docket except for cases where the defendant is in custody and child abuse cases where the defendant is free on bail. Minn. Stat. § 630.36.

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