Understanding the Crime: Assault with a Deadly Weapon
Being charged with assault with a deadly weapon in Minnesota can lead to serious criminal penalties. These allegations should never be taken lightly.
When the prosecution claims you used a dangerous weapon to commit an assault, you face the possibility of felony charges, lengthy prison sentences, and other severe consequences. Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer by your side is essential to protect your rights and future.
In this article, we’ll break down Minnesota’s laws on assault with a deadly weapon. You’ll learn how prosecutors classify these charges, the penalties you may face, and possible defenses an attorney can use to fight for your freedom.
Assault With a Deadly Weapon Laws in Minnesota
Assault with a dangerous weapon is charged as felony assault in the second degree in Minnesota.
Subdivision 1 of Sec. 609.222 MN Statutes makes it a crime to assault someone with a dangerous weapon, punishable by up to 7 years in prison and/or a $14,000 fine.
Subdivision 2 provides an enhanced penalty of up to 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine if the assault with a dangerous weapon also inflicts “substantial bodily harm.”
Additionally, if the was inflicted upon certain public officials, under Sec. 609.221 MN Statutes Subdivision 4, you may be charged with assault in the first degree, a felony crime punishable by up to 30 years in prison and/or a $40,000 fine.
What Constitutes a “Deadly Weapon” in Minnesota?
Unlike some other states, Minnesota uses the term “dangerous weapon.”
It is defined under Sec. 609.02 MN Statutes as “any firearm, whether loaded or unloaded, or any device designed as a weapon and capable of producing death or great bodily harm, any combustible or flammable liquid or other device or instrumentality that, in the manner, it is used or intended to be used, is calculated or likely to produce death or great bodily harm, or any fire that is used to produce death or great bodily harm.”
Essentially, any item used in a way that could easily cause death or great bodily harm may be considered a dangerous weapon.
What Happens When You’re Charged with Assault?
If you’re charged with assault, the first step is usually an arrest, followed by a court hearing where the charges are formally read.
This is a critical time to have a criminal defense attorney by your side to protect your rights and to start building a defense strategy.
Following the initial hearing, the prosecution and defense will exchange information in a process called discovery. This is when your attorney will start challenging the prosecutor’s case, aiming to get the charges reduced or dropped altogether.
Can a Victim Drop Assault Charges in Minnesota?
No, a victim cannot drop assault charges in Minnesota. Only the prosecutor has the authority to decide whether assault charges will be dropped or pursued. The victim is only a witness in the criminal case brought by the state against the defendant.
Even if a victim requests that the charges be dropped or refuses to cooperate, the prosecutor can still choose to proceed with the case if there is sufficient evidence from other sources. The prosecutor has sole discretion over dropping or continuing with the prosecution.
Their decision will be based on evaluating factors such as the severity of injuries, strength of evidence, public safety concerns, and any prior assault history of the defendant. Ultimately, it is solely up to the prosecutor, not the victim, to decide whether to pursue assault charges in Minnesota.
Potential Legal Defenses for Assault with a Deadly Weapon
Given the potential consequences, facing a charge of assault with a deadly weapon can be terrifying. However, it’s crucial to remember that every person accused of a crime has rights. One of the most important steps you can take is to secure representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney.
A good criminal defense lawyer will help you understand the charges, advise you on the best course of action, and represent you in court. They can also help identify possible defenses for assault, such as lack of intent or self-defense, and work to get your charges reduced or dropped.
Some possible defenses include:
- Self-defense or defense of others: Using reasonable force to protect yourself or others may provide a legal defense to assault charges. However, the force must match the threat faced.
- False accusations: The alleged victim fabricated the story or misidentified you as the perpetrator. Your attorney can investigate for evidence to show your innocence.
- Lack of intent: You had no intention to harm the victim. For example, the contact was an accident.
- Improper weapon allegations: The item in question may not satisfy the legal criteria for being considered a deadly weapon. Your attorney can make the argument that the object was not inherently hazardous.
Allegations as serious as assault with a deadly weapon can ruin lives. Don’t leave your fate in the hands of prosecutors seeking convictions. With so much at stake, it’s critical to act now to protect your rights.
The attorneys at Martine Law have successfully defended thousands accused of violent crimes throughout Minnesota. We have the skills and experience to closely examine your charges, build an assertive defense, and demand justice in the courtroom.
To schedule a case evaluation and discuss your defense options, contact us today.