The consequences of an assault conviction can be severe. You could be facing jail time and hefty fines—not to mention the impact of having this type of violent offense on your record.
If you’ve been charged with an assault crime in Hennepin County, a Minneapolis assault lawyer will walk you through the whole legal process and defend your rights with passion.
What is the Definition of Assault?
Minnesota law defines assault as intentionally causing bodily harm to or attempting to inflict bodily harm on another person. Assault charges also include intentional acts that are done to cause the other person to fear immediate physical harm or death.
Types of Assault
There are several types of assault defined by Minnesota criminal law. The different categories usually have to do with who the victim is, the severity of the injuries inflicted, and what was used to inflict bodily harm.
Also known as “ordinary assault,” this is the most basic offense definition. It can include shoving, slapping, hitting, or even non-physical actions like verbally threatening to injure someone or raising a fist at them as a threat.
Any assault against the perpetrator’s household or family member could be considered domestic assault.
This could include:
- Those who live in the same home or have lived in the same house in the past
- Pregnant individuals and alleged fathers
- Those engaged in significant relationships or sexual relationships
A domestic assault charge typically activates protections for the domestic assault victim to prevent harm in the future—such as protection orders or “restraining orders.”
When the assault resulted in significant bodily harm or when a deadly or dangerous weapon—like a gun, bat, knife, car, or flammable substance—was used during the assault, it’s often categorized as aggravated assault.
Protected Class Assaults
Suppose an assault is committed against certain government employees considered members of a protected class. In that case, the offense will typically be categorized as a higher fourth-degree assault.
Protected class members include:
- Law enforcement
- Correctional employees (judges, attorneys, probation officers, correctional officers, etc.)
- Employees of secure treatment facilities
- Utility workers
- Postal service workers
- Transit operators
Assaults motivated by the individual’s bias—due to race, sexual orientation, religion, gender, disability, or national origin—can also be considered an assault against a protected class member.
Consequences of Assault in Minnesota
Fifth-Degree Assault & Battery
Fifth-degree assault is typically simple assault and can result in a misdemeanor or a gross misdemeanor charge, depending on the case. Penalties include up to $1,000 in fines and 90 days of jail time.
Fourth-Degree Assault & Battery
Fourth-degree assault is committed against a protected class member and can result in a gross misdemeanor or felony assault charge, depending on the case. Penalties include one to three years of jail time and $3,000 to $6,000 in fines.
Third-Degree Assault & Battery
Third-degree assault is a felony offense and is charged when the act is committed against a minor or results in “substantial bodily harm.” Penalties include up to five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Second-Degree Assault & Battery
Second-degree assault occurs when the use of a deadly weapon is involved. This is a felony offense for which penalties include seven to ten years in prison and between $14,000 and $20,000 in fines.
First-Degree Assault & Battery
The most severe among assault charges in Minnesota law, first-degree assault occurs when “great bodily harm” is caused. Great bodily harm typically means the injuries inflicted caused permanent loss of impairment, disfigurement, or a high risk of death. Penalties include up to 20 years in prison and up to $20,000 in fines.
Aggravating Factors of Assault in Minnesota
There are certain elements where the classification and penalties of assault can be increased to either a gross misdemeanor or a felony charge.
These situations include:
- The defendant assaulted the same victim for the second or subsequent time
- The defendant committed a second or subsequent domestic assault act within ten years of a previous conviction
- The defendant used a dangerous weapon or object during the assault
- The defendant targeted a vulnerable victim
- The victim was under the age of four
- The victim experienced significant bodily harm
- The assault was motivated by bias
How an Assault Conviction Affects Your Life
The possible jail or prison time and monetary burden of fines associated with an assault charge in Minnesota are hefty enough. Besides those penalties, felony offenses could have other effects on your life.
Possible life consequences of an assault conviction include:
- Ability to possess a firearm
- Ability to vote
- Reduced employment opportunities
- Negative impact on family law matters like child custody and visitation
- Immigration issues
Depending on the classification of the assault charge, these consequences may be permanent or temporary while on parole or probation.
Possible Assault Defenses
If you’ve been charged with assault in Minnesota, a few criminal defense strategies could be employed in your favor during a trial.
It Was an Act of Self-Defense
To convince a jury that you were acting in self-defense during the alleged assault, your attorneys must prove that:
- There was a threat of harm
- You were rightfully afraid
- You were not provoking the alleged victim in any way
- Your actions were reasonable in de-escalating the situation
Self-defense is probably the most common defense in Minnesota assault cases.
You Were Defending Others
Similar to the “self-defense” argument, force is sometimes necessary when you’re defending other people. To prove that you acted in defense of others, you must demonstrate some of the same elements required for self-defense, with the exception that the threat was presented toward someone else.
This is sometimes a valid defense in domestic assault cases when children are present during the incident.
You Were Defending Your Property
Using this defense in an assault case is a bit tricky. In Minnesota, you can use force to defend your property or home. You can also use deadly force if it’s reasonable.
However, you must be able to prove that:
- You were attempting to prevent a felony from occurring in your home (this includes rape, assault, robbery, or burglary)
- Your judgment of the situation was reasonable
- The action you took was appropriate, considering the circumstances
Seek Legal Representation from a Minneapolis Assault Attorney
You have a lot at stake if you’re facing criminal charges for assault in Minneapolis. Not only is your freedom at risk, but you’ll also be on the hook for heavy fines and long-term consequences if you’re convicted. You need the legal representation of an experienced criminal defense attorney who will fight for your rights and freedom.