DEFINITION: “Domestic Child Abuse”
“Domestic child abuse” means: (1) any physical injury to a minor family or household member inflicted by an adult family or household member other than by accidental means; or (2) subjection of a minor family or household member by an adult family or household member to any act which constitutes a violation of sections 609.321 to 609.324 (prostitution crimes), 609.342 (first-degree criminal sexual conduct), 609.343 (second-degree criminal sexual conduct), 609.344 (third-degree criminal sexual conduct), 609.345 (fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct), or 617.246 (use of minors in sexual performance). Minn. Stat. § 260C.007, subd. 13.
The juvenile court has original and exclusive jurisdiction in proceedings concerning children in need of protection or services (CHIPS), and specifically, any alleged acts of domestic child abuse. Proceedings involving domestic child abuse are given docket priority by the court. Minn. Stat. § 260C.101, subd. 3.
The juvenile code sets forth the procedures and relief in cases of domestic child abuse. The relief available in a domestic child abuse proceeding is similar to the relief available under the Domestic Abuse Act. Minn. Stat. §§ 260C.148; and 260C.201, subd. 3.
Agency Investigation of Child Exposed to Domestic Child Abuse
If a local welfare agency receives a report that alleges neglect, physical abuse, or sexual abuse of a child by a parent, guardian, caretaker, sibling, or person with a significant relationship to the child, the local welfare agency must immediately conduct a family assessment or investigation. When determining whether there is a need for child protective services, the local welfare agency must take into account: (1) the child’s sex and age, prior to reports of maltreatment, level of developmental functioning, and credibility; (2) alleged offender’s age and prior record of maltreatment and criminal charges and convictions; (3) other medical or secondary evidence of abuse; and (4) the existence of domestic abuse or substance abuse in the home. Minn. Stat. § 626.556, subd. 10.
Admissibility of Child Hearsay Statements
If certain statutory requirements are met, an out-of-court statement that is not otherwise admissible by statute or rule of evidence is admissible in evidence in a (1) CHIPS proceeding; (2) neglected and in foster care proceeding; (3) domestic child abuse proceeding; or (4) termination of parental rights proceeding. An out-of-court statement includes a video, audio, or other recorded statement. Minn. Stat. § 260C.165.
Testimony of Witnesses
A parent or the parent’s minor child may not be examined as to any communication made in confidence by the minor to the minor’s parent. A communication is confidential if made out of the presence of persons who are not members of the child’s immediate family living in the same household. This provision does not apply to:
- a civil action or proceeding by one spouse against the other or by a parent or child against the other;
- a proceeding to commit either the child or parent to whom the communication was made or to place the person or property or either under the control of another because of an alleged mental or physical condition;
- a criminal action or proceeding in which the parent is charged with a crime committed against the person or property of the communicating child, the parent’s spouse, or a child of either the parent or the parent’s spouse;
- a proceeding in which a child is charged with a crime or act of delinquency committed against the person or property of a parent or a child of a parent;
- an action or proceeding for termination of parental rights; or
- any other action or proceeding on a petition alleging child abuse, child neglect, abandonment, or nonsupport by a parent.
The statute provides for waiver of the privilege. Minn. Stat. § 595.02