Domestic Abuse Counseling and Educational Programs

Court-ordered program

If the court stays imposition or execution of a sentence for a domestic abuse offense and places the offender on probation, the court must order that the offender participate in and successfully complete a domestic abuse counseling program or educational program as a condition of the stayed sentence. Minn. Stat. § 518B.02.

Standards for domestic abuse counseling and educational programs

A domestic abuse counseling or educational program must require offenders and abusing parties to attend a minimum of 24 sessions or 36 hours of programming, unless a probation officer has recommended fewer sessions. Services must be provided in a group setting, unless the offender or abusing party would be inappropriate in such a setting. There must be separate sessions for male and female participants. The program must have a written policy that forbids program staff from offering or referring marriage or couples counseling until the offender or abusing party has completed the program and the staff reasonably believe that the violence, intimidation, and coercion has ceased and the victim feels safe to participate.

Each program must have a written policy requiring that counselors and facilitators report to the court and to the offender’s probation officer any threats or acts of violence made by the offender or abusing party, any violation of court orders by the offender or abusing party, and any violation of program rules that resulted in the offender or abusing party’s termination from the program. If the offender or abusing party is reported back to the court or terminated from the program, the program must notify the victim (unless the victim requests otherwise).

Each program must conduct an intake process with each offender or abusing party. During intake, the staff must look for possible chemical dependency problems and possible risks the offender or abusing party may pose to self or others. The program must have policies for chemical dependency treatment referrals. If the offender or abusing party poses a risk to self or others, the program must report this information to the court, the probation officer, and the victim. Minn. Stat. § 518B.02.

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.

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