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Degrees of Assault in Minnesota

You never want an assault charge on your permanent record, but especially not a felony assault charge. If you’ve been accused of a violent crime, don’t waste any time—give us a call at (320) 497-4416 to speak to a top-notch criminal defense attorney.

Most people don’t realize that assault isn’t just one crime. It’s a category of violent crimes that encompasses many different offenses. In Minnesota, the first through fourth degree of assault may be charged as felonies.

Regardless of which degree of assault you face, you may end up paying expensive fines and serving jail time if convicted. And the consequences don’t end there—your record may haunt you for years to come, wreaking havoc on your personal life and career.

If you’ve been accused of assault, you’re probably frightened, and the truth is that you should be. Because unless you mount a robust defense, you could end up paying for your crimes with the ultimate price: your freedom. The best way to protect yourself is to contact an experienced, aggressive criminal defense lawyer.

Keep reading to learn about Minnesota’s various degrees of felony assault and the potential consequences of each.

At Toepfer at Law, we take our clients’ futures as seriously as our own. When you partner with us, you can trust that we’ll design the best possible defense for your situation. Contact us online to get started.


What Is Assault in Minnesota?

According to Minnesota Statute 609.02, assault is “an act done with the intent to cause fear in another of immediate bodily harm or death,” or “the intentional infliction of or attempt to inflict bodily harm upon another.”

Simply put, assault is the act of hurting someone or making them believe you’re going to hurt them. In Minnesota, the law does not make a distinction between assault and battery; it combines these crimes into various degrees of assault.

Assault in the First Degree

Assault in the first degree is the most serious category of assault. This charge is reserved for people who inflict great bodily harm onto another, meaning that the victim’s injuries are life-threatening or life-altering. The injuries may result in permanent disfigurement, disability or impairment of bodily functions.

A person convicted of first degree assault may be sentenced to prison for up to 20 years, be ordered to pay up to $30,000 in fines or both. As the most serious type of assault, the penalty is a minimum 10-year prison sentence with no chance for parole or release.

Using or attempting to use deadly force against a police officer, prosecutor, judge or correctional employee while they are in the line of duty is generally considered a first degree assault. According to Minnesota law, force is considered deadly if the person attempts to cause (or knows their actions could cause) great bodily harm or death.

Assault in the Second Degree

Assault in the second degree means assault with a dangerous weapon. Any device that was designed to kill or cause serious injuries is considered a dangerous weapon. This includes items like handguns, even if unloaded, and ordinary objects like a kitchen knife, if wielded in a way that could potentially kill someone.

The penalty for second degree assault depends on the extent of the victim’s injuries. Assault with a dangerous weapon carries a prison term of up to seven years and a maximum $14,000 fine. However, if the attacker succeeded in causing great bodily harm with a dangerous weapon, they may serve up to 10 years in prison and pay up to $20,000 in fines.

Assault in the Third Degree

Assault in the third degree is an attack that leads to substantial bodily harm, meaning a fracture, temporary or substantial impairment and temporary or substantial disfigurement.

Third degree assault also applies to assaulting a minor, in which case the prosecutor only needs to prove a history of child abuse, not that there was substantial bodily injury. Third degree assault can also be applied to injuring the head, eyes or neck of a child under four years of age or causing significant bruising.

The penalty for assault in the third degree in Minnesota is up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.

Assault in the Fourth Degree

Unlike the previous three types of assault, assault in the fourth degree may be considered a gross misdemeanor or a felony. A gross misdemeanor is regarded as more serious than a regular misdemeanor but less serious than a felony.

Fourth degree assault is considered a gross misdemeanor when the person assaults a public servant while they are performing their duties. Conviction may result in up to one year in prison and a fine of $3,000.

However, a fourth degree assault can become a felony in some scenarios. For example, if an attacker causes demonstrable bodily harm or throws bodily fluids on someone in the line of duty, it is considered a felony rather than a gross misdemeanor. This conviction carries up to three years in prison and a maximum fine of $6,000.

Contact Us to Defend Your Future

Whether you’ve been accused of first, second, third or fourth degree assault, you could potentially be charged with a felony. And if convicted, you’ll have a felony assault on your permanent record, casting a shadow on your life for years to come.

The importance of avoiding a felony conviction can’t be overstated. Luckily, Toepfer at Law may be able to help. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys will do everything in their power to help lessen your charge or avoid conviction altogether.

What are you waiting for? There’s no time to lose—contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our legal experts today.

Contact Us

Toepfer at Law

11 Seventh Ave N Suite 203
St. Cloud, Minnesota 56303

Phone (320) 497-4416 Fax (320) 295-7813
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