If you have been charged with a domestic abuse crime in Minnesota, you probably also have had a DANCO issued against you. You may have questions about what a DANCO is, what it means for your life and your family, and whether the order can be removed. If you are in this situation, you need the help of an experienced Minnesota criminal defense attorney to help you understand your circumstances and how best to move forward. Each case is unique, but this blog gives general information about Domestic Abuse No Contact Orders in Minnesota. The attorneys at Sieben Edmunds Miller are available to discuss your individual case at any time. Contact us now.
What is a DANCO?
A DANCO is a Domestic Abuse No Contact Order. A DANCO is issued against a defendant in a criminal case for domestic abuse, harassment or stalking against a family member, violation of an order for protection, or violation of a prior DANCO.
When is a DANCO ordered?
A DANCO may be ordered following arrest as a pretrial order. A defendant who posted unconditional bail on pretrial release may still be subject to a DANCO.
A DANCO can also be ordered as a postconviction condition of probation.
What does a DANCO mean?
A DANCO can prohibit all contact with the alleged victim in the case. This happens whether or not the alleged victim requests the DANCO—they don’t need to “press charges” and they don’t have the option to just drop the charges either. This is because the state is the one who files the charges, and the state (via the prosecutor) is the one in control of filing or dismissing charges. Once a DANCO is ordered, only a judge can make it go away.
The terms of a DANCO may include any or all of the following:
- No in-person contact
- No electronic contact
- No indirect contact – i.e., no passing messages through a third-party
- Staying a certain number of feet away from the alleged victim, their home, work, or certain other places
This means that the defendant may need to move out of their home until the case is resolved or the DANCO is dropped. It also means the defendant must take extraordinary steps to ensure they have no contact, even accidental contact, with the alleged victim.
How long does a DANCO last?
A pretrial DANCO could last for months—from the time of arrest until sentencing. And a probationary DANCO could be in place for years.
What are the consequences of violating a DANCO?
Violating a DANCO is a criminal offense. The offense is enhanceable, meaning that subsequent offenses are subject to more severe penalties. The first violation of a DANCO is a misdemeanor. If convicted, the violator may be subject to a sentence up to 90 days in jail and a fine up to $1,000.00. A second violation within ten years is a gross-misdemeanor. The minimum sentence for a second DANCO violation in Minnesota is ten days’ imprisonment and court-ordered counseling. The maximum penalty for a gross-misdemeanor is one year in jail and a $3,000.00 fine. Three or more DANCO violations within ten years can be charged as a felony. A person found guilty of a felony DANCO violation may be sentenced to up to five years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.00. If the felony violation is committed while possessing a dangerous weapon, the minimum sentence is 30 days’ incarceration and counselling. In certain circumstances, courts may “stay” the minimum sentence, meaning that the incarceration portion of the sentence is not imposed unless the defendant violates the conditions of probation.
How does a DANCO order get dropped?
The process of requesting removal is a difficult process, and a judge will rarely issue a removal order on behalf of a defendant alone. But, there may be many reasons why both parties may want a DANCO removed:
- The allegations made by the prosecutor may have been false
- The alleged victim may not view the offense as serious enough to warrant a DANCO
- The couple may wish to continue their relationship or participate in counselling
- Neither party may not wish to move out of the family home and disrupt their lives
- The couple may have children together and need to communicate and coordinate parenting matters
Only a judge may order the removal of a DANCO. If you want to have a DANCO removed, you need to work with a Minnesota criminal defense attorney who can file a petition with the court on your behalf. An attorney can advise you on the process, and how to navigate the court system without violating the existing DANCO. It is important that you follow the order until it has been lifted to avoid criminal consequences.