Under the strict legal definition of assault, any action or exchange of words that leaves another fear in genuine fear for their safety could result in criminal charges, even if no injury or physical contact is inflicted upon the alleged victim. Encounters that lead to serious injuries or target particular individuals are generally classified as felonies.
Regardless of the exact nature of your charges, you should consider seeking counsel from a Hennepin County assault lawyer as soon as possible. A skilled criminal defense attorney could provide critical assistance to mitigate the potential consequences, work diligently to contest the prosecution’s case.
There are five degrees of assault codified under state law, most of which are classified as felony offenses. The most basic form of assault, assault in the fifth degree, is considered a misdemeanor offense as per Minnesota Statutes §609.224. That same section defines this offense as either intentionally attempting to commit bodily harm against someone else, successfully harming that person, or doing something to knowingly cause someone else to fear immediate physical harm.
Assaults against certain individuals are classified automatically as assault in the fourth degree and are punished more harshly. For example, any physical assault against a police officer trying to execute their legal duties is a gross misdemeanor offense, as is assault of a school official, postal worker, transit worker, vulnerable adult or certain other parties named under MN Stat. §609.2231. A knowledgeable assault attorney in the area could explain in detail what type of charge an individual may face for a particular alleged action.
All forms of assault above third-degree assault, as well as certain types of fourth-degree assault, are classified as felony offenses. The exact penalties that a defendant may face upon conviction for felony assault vary based on the circumstances of the crime, as well as the presence or lack of certain aggravating factors.
Generally, more severe physical harm is correlated with more severe sanctions in court. For example, a person who inflicts “substantial bodily harm” to someone else may be charged with third-degree assault and face penalties of up to five years in prison and $10,000 in fines under MN Stat. §609.223, while “great bodily harm” constitutes first-degree assault and is punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $30,000 fine under MN Stat. §609.221.
Certain situations automatically enhance the severity of an assault charge. For example, any form of assault involving the use of a dangerous weapon constitutes second-degree assault under MN Stat. §609.222, which may be punishable by a maximum of 7 or 10 years in prison and a $14,000 or $20,000 fine depending on whether the victim suffered substantial bodily harm. A qualified local lawyer could represent the best interests of an individual charged with any variant of assault.
Depending on that status of the alleged victim and the harm your actions caused, you could face severe consequences for assault charges in Hennepin County. Even if you have no prior criminal record, one assault conviction could potentially land you in prison for several years and force you to pay steep fines.
Fortunately, there are ways to fight assault charges, and seasoned legal counsel could help you utilize the most effective strategies. Call today to schedule a meeting with a Hennepin County assault lawyer and discuss the options available in your situation.