Like most other states, Minnesota assault charges and their consequences vary by the severity of the act. Assault encompasses any attempt to harm or injure someone else, and in some cases, can include threats or intention to harm another person (even if no physical harm is done). There are five different types of assault charges in Minnesota, from first-degree to fifth-degree. If the defendant has been convicted of domestic violence previously, the charges and consequences may be more severe. Assault charges are sometimes referred to as assault and battery charges, where assault refers to any attempt or threat to harm someone, and battery refers to the actual act. The punishable crime is labeled as assault, which we will explore further below.
What Is Assault?
Assault is not just limited to attempts to harm or injure someone else, but it can also include threats or intentions of harming another person. For an assault charge and conviction to occur, there must be a criminal “act” that occurs. Various actions or attempts fall under the category of assault, including a direct or overt action that would make someone fear for their safety. Additionally, assault crimes have to have “general intent,” which means the actions weren’t an accident. General intent signifies that the offender did the actions of the assault on purpose. Unfortunately, abusive relationships can often lead to assault crimes, including sexual assault. Here are some examples of acts that would be considered assault and punishable under that offense:
- Swinging and missing, but intended to hit or punch the victim.
- Using language that could threaten or harm someone’s reputation.
- Making a threat while disguising appearance, such as wearing a mask.
- Throwing an object at someone.
- Pointing a gun at the victim, whether it is loaded or not.
- Miming the act of hitting, kicking, or punching the victim.
- Attempting to spit on the victim.
- Brandishing a weapon in a manner that suggests they will hit the victim.
- Threatening to kill or hit someone.
Different Forms of Assault in Minnesota
There are five different types of assault charges in Minnesota that are punishable by law. Some of the charges are felony charges, while others are misdemeanors. Any assault or threat could lead to other consequences as well, besides the charges the offender makes. Often people who are harmed or threatened decide to file an order for protection so that the respondent has to stay away from them by law. Orders for protection demand any abuser to stop their abuse actions, and the different forms of protection have varying stipulations depending on the degree of harm that’s been done.
In Minnesota, there are five different kinds of assault charges. Each charge has its own consequence, including both fines and jail time in some cases. First-degree assault is the most serious of any assault charge in Minnesota, so it has the highest amount of penalties and the longest maximum jail time associated with it. Fifth-degree assault is the least severe Minnesota assault charge, and it includes attempted assault even if no physical contact was made. Listed below are the five different types of assault charges and a short description of each one.
- First-Degree Assault: charged when someone has been physically assaulted to the point of great bodily harm, meaning the victim is at risk of death, disfigurement, or loss of use.
- Second-Degree Assault: any form of assault that occurs with the use of a dangerous weapon. This includes any form of weapon or object that would be considered hazardous when yielded.
- Third-Degree Assault: this degree is reserved for anyone who assaulted someone under the age of four or a minor where there is a history of abuse. It can also be used for any kind of assault that resulted in substantial bodily harm.
- Fourth-Degree Assault: any case where the alleged victim does not meet the criteria of the previous degrees. It is often used if the act is committed against a school official, corrections officer, police officer, firefighter, or emergency medical personnel. Fourth-degree is also used in hate crime cases, when the victim is targeted because of their race, religion, disability, or sexual preference.
- Fifth-Degree Assault: any attempted assault or case that doesn’t meet the criteria of the other degrees of assault.
Assault Charges and Consequences
Now that you know the different types of assault in Minnesota, we can explore the charges and consequences of these acts. Most of these assault charges lead to fines and jail time, and the amount will vary with the severity of the assault. You may also notice that some of the charges are felony charges, while others are misdemeanors. Here is a breakdown of the different charges and their varying consequences:
- First-Degree Assault: is a felony charge that can carry $30,000 in fines and up to 20 years in prison.
- Second-Degree Assault: if the act does not cause substantial bodily harm to the victim, then punishment is up to seven years in prison and $14,000 in fines. If physical injury does occur, then the sentence is closer to 10 years in prison.
- Third-Degree Assault: another felony charge that will result in up to five years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
- Fourth-Degree Assault: considered a gross misdemeanor that is punishable with up to one year in jail and $3,000 in fines.
- Fifth-Degree Assault: a misdemeanor charge that usually comes with up to 90 days in jail and some fines.
Seeking Legal Counsel in Minnesota
Assault is never something to take lightly. We know that different forms of assault, especially those that happen within the stages of domestic violence, can have a significant negative impact on the victim’s life. Hiring an attorney can help victims, or anyone who has dealt with abuse or assault, find the right legal solutions to ensure that no harm happens again. Understanding the different forms of assault and assault charges in Minnesota can help bring awareness so that abusers and offenders face the consequences of their actions with fines and jail time.