Although not everyone is aware of this fact, you do not need to injure another person in order to be charged with assault. However, if you do end up causing an injury or committing an assault with an aggravating factor, the penalties you might face upon conviction could be significantly more severe, potentially including several years of incarceration in state prison.
A Minnesota assault lawyer could help you defend yourself against your charges, regardless of the exact circumstances of your case. A defense attorney with experience handling these kinds of charges could be a valuable asset during the legal process.
Misdemeanor Assault Charges in Minnesota
Minnesota law defines five degrees of assault, two of which are generally misdemeanors and three of which are automatically felonies. Under Minnesota Statutes § 609.224, a person may be charged with fifth-degree assault if they intentionally try to cause or actually cause physical harm to another person or put someone in reasonable fear of harm through their actions or statements. This offense is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum 90-day jail sentence and $1,000 fine, but prior domestic violence and/or assault convictions may elevate this charge to a gross misdemeanor or a felony.
According to MN Stat. §609.2231, anyone who assaults a law enforcement officer, public official, medical professional, school teacher, or “vulnerable adult” as defined by MN Stat. §609.232, Subdiv. 11 is guilty of fourth-degree assault, a gross misdemeanor that could lead to a jail sentence of up to a year and a fine of $3,000. Any assault “motivated by bias” against a target’s race, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or membership in any other protected class is automatically assault in the fourth degree. A person facing elevated charges such as these should reach out to a skilled assault attorney in Minnesota immediately.
When Does Assault Become a Felony?
As per MN Stat. §609.223, a third-degree assault involves “substantial bodily harm,” committed against a child under four years of age or committed by someone with a history of child abuse. Conviction for this felony offense could result in five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Any assault involving the use of a dangerous weapon is classified as a felony assault in the second degree, and a conviction could incur a seven-year prison sentence and a $14,000 fine. If such an assault results in substantial bodily harm, the applicable penalties increase to ten years of imprisonment and $20,000 in fines.
How is “Great Bodily Harm” Penalized in Assault Cases?
Finally, anyone who causes “great bodily harm” through an assaultive act or uses deadly force against a police officer, judge, or prosecuting attorney may be charged under MN Stat. § 609.221 with first-degree assault, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $30,000 fine. Notably, a conviction under the latter set of circumstances also comes with a minimum 10-year prison sentence, and a convicted individual is not eligible for probation, parole, work release, or any other means of sentence suspension or reduction. A qualified assault lawyer in Minnesota could provide crucial assistance contesting any of these charges.
Consult a Minnesota Assault Attorney Right Away
Assault can be a complicated charge to defend without legal representation, as there are multiple variants and potential aggravating factors defined under state law. Seeking counsel from a professional who knows how to handle cases like yours should be a priority.
A Minnesota assault lawyer could explain exactly what your charges mean and guide you through the process of protecting your rights. Call today to schedule an initial consultation and learn more.