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How Are Assault And Battery Charges Defined In Minnesota?


There is no such thing as a battery charge under Minnesota law. That was an old common law type concept, but now it’s just rolled in under our assault statutes. Assault is defined in Minnesota as attempting to cause, or actually causing, bodily harm or fear of bodily harm in another person.

Does Someone Have To Show Actual Physical Injury For An Assault Charge To Be Made?

Someone does not have to show a physical injury for an assault charge to be made. For example, if someone cocks their fist back to act as though they are going to punch someone, it’s their intent to cause the other person fear of harm. That’s enough to have an assault charge brought against you. You do not actually have to touch them, you don’t have to cause any harm—you just have to cause fear of harm to be charged with an assault. If you do cause harm, that is also an assault, but it’s not required.

Are There Different Levels Of Categories Of Assault Charges?

There are multiple categories of assault charges. There are assaults that range from fifth degree, which is the lowest or least of misdemeanor type of assault, all the way to first degree. First-degree assaults are always felonies. Fifth-degree assaults can be misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors, or felonies. There are also domestic assaults, and another category would be malicious punishment of a child. All of these charges could range between misdemeanors and felonies, which carry varying levels of punishment from 90 days in jail to 20 years in prison.

What Factors Can Enhance Or Aggravate An Assault Charge?

There are several things that can enhance, or aggravate an assault charge. Let’s take the example of a fight between two friends. They don’t live together, so we are not talking about a domestic assault. It’s just two people that get into a fight, and one of them punches the other. In that case, assuming that there aren’t any permanent injuries, it’s likely going to be a fifth-degree assault. If it’s a first offense, it will be a misdemeanor. If this person has had prior assaults or assaultive type behavior in their past or on their record, it could be enhanced to a gross misdemeanor. A third assault in a 10-year period is going to be a felony. If the person was actually harmed or had some serious harm—let’s say they lost a tooth—that’s going to be treated as a felony. It could be either a first-degree or third-degree assault. If they use or threaten the use of any weapon—guns, knives or a baseball bat—it’s also going to make the charge more serious and enhance it to a felony.

What Happens If Assault Occurs Against Certain People Like Law Enforcement Officers or Nurses?

There are special statutes that protect police officers, judges, prosecutors, probation officers, correction officers, and professionals like that. If you were to commit an assault against one of those people, while it may be a regular misdemeanor assault for some random person walking down the street, it’s going to be treated as a felony just by virtue of their job, as long as they are working on their job at the time of assault. There are also enhancements if you were to commit an assault motivated by some sort of bias. Those are potentially charged and punished more harshly as well.

How Does The Degree Of An Injury Affect An Assault Charge?

The degree of injury is very important, because it could be the difference between a misdemeanor assault and a felony assault. If somebody just has a bump, bruise, or scrape, that doesn’t leave any permanent mark, if it’s a first time offense for a defendant, it’s likely going to be a misdemeanor or a fifth-degree assault. If there are permanent injuries, even if it’s just cosmetic like a scar, that’s probably going to be a third-degree assault. If there are substantial injuries, like permanent traumatic brain injury, loss of a limb, or gunshot wounds, those are going to be first-degree assaults. That is a presumptive prison sentence if you were to be convicted. The level of injury is very important in looking at an assault case and needs to be very carefully evaluated to make sure that the injuries sustained actually meet the definitions under the statute. This is so that someone is not unnecessarily punished for a crime that his or her actions don’t fit.

What Are The Potential Penalties For An Assault Conviction In Minnesota?

For a misdemeanor assault, you are looking at a maximum of 90 days in jail, and up to a $1000 fine. For a gross misdemeanor assault, you are looking at a maximum of up to one year in jail and a $3000 fine. For felony assaults, you are looking at a minimum of a year and a day in prison, and potentially up to 20 years in prison, depending on the level of harm caused and your prior record. Those assaults could be charged as fourth-, third-, second-, or first-degree. All charges would carry between a year and a day and up to 20 years in prison, depending on the level that you were charged with.

For more information on Assault Charges In Minnesota, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling ((651) 314-9620 today.

Jennifer Congdon, Esq.

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