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Degrees of assault charges in Minnesota: What you need to know

Degrees of assault charges in Minnesota: What you need to know

In Minnesota, there are two types of assault:

  • Assault-fear: the act of putting someone in fear of an attack or non-consensual contact. It requires the state to prove you did something to cause another to fear imminent bodily harm.
  • Assault-harm: intentional physical contact that results in bodily harm or injury.

Assault charges can also stem from mutual altercations, or an altercation involving self-defense or defending another.

If you are charged with assault, the degree of your charges will depend on the severity of the crime. There are five degrees of assault in Minnesota.

What is assault in the fifth degree in Minnesota?

Fifth-degree assault is the lowest level of assault in Minnesota. It is a misdemeanor charge.

Fifth-degree assault is defined as an act with intent of causing fear of imminent bodily harm, or intentional attempt to inflict bodily harm upon another. 

What is assault in the fourth degree in Minnesota?

Fourth-degree assault is a gross misdemeanor in Minnesota.

It is defined the same as fifth-degree assault, but with an aggravating factor, such as assault against:

  • a public servant
  • a law enforcement officer
  • a school official
  • medical staff, or 
  • if the assault is discriminatory. 

What is assault in the third degree in Minnesota?

Third-degree assault is a felony in Minnesota.

It is defined as an act that inflicts substantial bodily harm. This includes:

  • temporary disfigurement
  • temporary loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ
  • the fracture of any bodily member

It can also include assault on a minor after engaging in a past pattern of child abuse, or any harm to a child under the age of four. 

What is assault in the second degree in Minnesota?

Second-degree assault is a felony in Minnesota.

It is defined as assault involving the use of a firearm (even if it’s unloaded or temporarily inoperable) or any other item capable of causing serious bodily harm or death, such as: 

  • a knife
  • a baseball bat
  • flammable liquid, or 
  • a motor vehicle. 

What is assault in the first degree in Minnesota?

First-degree assault is the highest level of assault in Minnesota. It is a felony.

It is defined as either:

  • Causing great bodily harm to the victim (harm leading to life-threatening injuries or a permanent disability), OR
  • Using deadly force against a police officer or employee of a correctional facility. 

Consequences of an assault conviction

Fifth-degree assault

The consequences of fifth-degree assault are up to 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.

Fourth-degree assault

Fourth-degree assault is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $3,000 fine.

Third-degree assault

Third-degree assault is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Second-degree assault

Second-degree assault is punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.

First-degree assault

The most serious assault charge carries a potential prison sentence of 20 years and a maximum fine of $30,000. 

Orders for Protection and Harassment Restraining Orders

In Minnesota, people claiming to be victims of assault may request to have a temporary order for protection placed against you in their favor.

This will likely require you to avoid any contact with the person who is requesting the order and stay away from their:

  • home
  • children, and
  • place of employment.

If you share a home with the person requesting the order, you may be required to leave your home.

If you are found guilty of the assault charges against you, the order of protection can be made permanent and last several years. Violating the order of protection is a separate crime and can result in additional charges, jail time, and fines.

You can, however, fight an order of protection or harassment restraining order if you have reason to believe it is unwarranted. But while the order of protection is in place, you must follow it to the letter, even if you believe it isn’t fair. If you violate it, you can harm your case and face additional charges.

Long-term consequences of assault charges

All assault charges are crimes, and having a criminal record of any kind can severely limit your future.

In fact, assault charges are particularly damaging as they are considered “crimes of violence” under both Federal and state law.  Being convicted of a crime of violence can greatly affect your ability to work, rent an apartment, possess firearms, or participate in activities with children.

This is why, whenever you can, it’s important to fight for the complete dismissal of your charges.

Defenses to an assault charge

There are several viable defenses to an assault charge, including self-defense.

Minnesota law does give citizens the right to defend against imminent threats of danger or assault. However, you must meet the burden of proof, which stipulates certain conditions that must occur for the act to be considered self-defense. 

Your attorney can help you build a case to prove that you acted in self-defense, rather than assault on the other party.

How an attorney can help

If you’re looking for the best defense for assault charges in the Twin Cities, you’ve come to the right place. Right now, you might be thinking that you don’t have options — but you’d be surprised. We’ve represented thousands of clients, all of whom started in the same position as you right now.

We’re here to help. We will be alongside you every step of the way to fight for your rights and help you navigate what can be a complicated and punitive system. Schedule a consultation to get started.

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