Exploring Assault and Battery Charges in Minnesota

Assault and battery is a term that is used quite regularly, but you may not actually know what it means. Assault refers to any attempt or threat to injure someone, while battery refers to the actual act of harming or offending another person. While they are typically referred to as one act together, the punishable crime is labeled under assault. There are several different kinds of assault charges in Minnesota, some of which are more severe if the defendant has been previously convicted of domestic violence. This article will explore the particularities of assault and battery charges in Minnesota and their criminal consequences. 

What Is Assault? 

Assault is defined as any attempt to injure or harm someone else, and in some cases, also includes threats or intention of harming another person. Attempted battery is another way to define assault, meaning no physical contact has been made, only threats. However, these threats may lead someone to file an order for protection so that the respondent has to stay away from them. 

With assault charges, a conviction still requires a criminal “act.” There is a wide variety of acts that could fall under the umbrella of assault, anything that is an overt or direct action that would put someone in fear of their safety. Assault crimes also need to have “general intent,” meaning the offender intended the actions that make up the assault, and they weren’t by accident. As mentioned, there are a wide variety of acts that can be considered assault. Abusive relationships can often manifest in assault crimes, including sexual assault. Workplace violence can also lead to assault. Here are a few more examples of acts that are considered assault and could be punishable:

  • Attempting to spit on the victim.
  • Brandishing a weapon in a manner that suggests they will hit the victim.
  • Pointing a gun at the victim, whether it is loaded or not.
  • Miming the act of hitting, punching, or kicking the victim.
  • Threatening to hit or kill someone. 
  • 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. 

What Is Battery?

Now that you understand what assault is and some different examples, let’s talk about battery. The definition of battery may vary by state, but generally speaking, it is the intentional harmful or offensive touching of another person without their consent. Intentionally touching someone in a harmful or offensive way, with no permission from the victim, will result in battery charges. Unlike assault, which doesn’t have to be physical, battery is punishable because actual contact has been made. If someone acts in a criminally negligent or reckless manner, that is considered battery as well. A victim does not need to be harmed or injured for the act to be punishable as battery, either. Here are some examples of battery to better understand it:

  • Spitting on an individual.
  • Any harmful and unwanted touching.
  • Punching, pushing, kicking, pinching, or slapping another person.
  • Striking someone repeatedly and trying to remove their clothes.
  • Attempted rape or other sexual acts without explicit consent. 
  • Hurting someone intentionally.
  • Grabbing someone with the intent to harm them.

Different Forms of Assault in Minnesota

Now that we’ve clarified the difference between assault and battery let’s go over the different forms of assault charges in Minnesota. There are five different types of charges, some being felony charges and others misdemeanors. Each type has its own consequences, with different charges and jail time or fines.

First-Degree Assault

First-degree assault is the most serious of all assault charges in Minnesota. It is characterized by physically assaulting someone to the point of great bodily harm, meaning the victim has been put at risk of death, disfigurement, or loss of use. First-degree assault is a felony charge and can carry $30,000 in fines and up to 20 years in prison. 

Second-Degree Assault

Second-degree assault is reserved for forms of assault that occur with the use of a dangerous weapon. This charge is applicable for all forms of weapons, from guns to baseball bats to any object that could be considered dangerous when wielded. If the act does not cause substantial bodily harm to the victim, then the punishment is up to seven years in prison and $14,000 in fines. If bodily harm does occur, then the sentence will be closer to 10 years in prison.

Third-Degree Assault

Third-degree assault is another felony charge, but it is less severe than the previous charges. This degree is used for anyone who has assaulted someone under the age of four, a minor where there is an abuse history, or some type of assault that resulted in substantial bodily harm. Though considered less serious than first or second degree, third-degree assault will result in up to five years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

Fourth-Degree Assault

Unlike the previous charges, fourth-degree assault is considered a gross misdemeanor that is punishable with up to one year in jail and $3,000 in fines. This assault charge is used for cases where the alleged victim does not meet one of the previous classifications’ criteria. In some situations, it can be elevated to a felony charge, depending on the circumstances. Fourth-degree assault is often used if the act is committed against a police officer, corrections officer, school official, emergency medical personnel, or firefighter. It can also be used in the case of a hate crime if the victim is targeted because of their race, religion, sexual preference, or disability.

Fifth-Degree Assault

The final Minnesota assault charge is fifth-degree assault, a misdemeanor charge. It is reserved for any assault case that doesn’t meet the criteria of the other degrees listed above. Typically this charge comes with up to 90 days in jail and some fines. You don’t have to commit the act to be charged for this crime. An attempt is enough.

Seeking Legal Counsel After Assault and Battery

Any act of assault or battery can be hard on a victim and affect their life tremendously. In domestic abuse cases, the act might be done by a partner who the victim and their children depend on for money or shelter. Hiring an attorney to help you find the right legal solutions after an assault is an essential first step in ensuring it doesn’t happen again. Understanding what constitutes assault and battery will help people recognize when it occurs and know the acts committed against them are punishable by crime.