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Can You Be Charged With Assault Without Touching Someone in Minnesota?

According to the laws of Minnesota, yes, you could be charged with assault without touching someone. That said, only certain assault charges will apply in these situations. Some of the five different types of assault charges require physical injuries in order to secure a conviction.

Each degree of assault charge under state law has different elements and brings different penalties. To understand whether an assault conviction is possible without making physical contact with another person, it is helpful to go through each degree of assault offense step by step.

An assault charges lawyer of Gerald Miller have a long track record of success when it comes to defending assault allegations. We understand the best way to approach cases where the accused never made physical contact with the alleged victim. In some cases, it could be possible to have these charges dismissed entirely. Reach out to our office right away to learn about your defense options.

Fifth-Degree Assault

The least serious form of assault charge in Minnesota is 5th degree assault. It is also the type of assault charge that is mostly likely to occur where you could be charged with assault without touching someone.

While this offense carries the lowest penalties of any assault charge under state law, it is a mistake to assume that the potential consequences are minor. The reality is that even assault in the 5th degree has the potential to be treated as a felony charge under some circumstances.

Assault in the 5th degree is governed by Minnesota Statutes Section 609.224. There are two different acts that qualify as assault in the 5th degree. A person is guilty of this offense when they:

  • Commit an act with intent to cause fear in another of immediate bodily harm or death, or
  • Intentionally inflicts or attempts to inflict harm upon another.

Under both of these options, the state could secure a conviction for assault when the accused did not physically touch the alleged victim. The first element—committing an act with the intent to cause fear of harm or death—is specifically related to causing fear instead of harm. This could include anything from brandishing a weapon to making a threatening gesture.

The second element could also result in a conviction for assault without any physical contact occurring. A person is guilty of assault in the 5th degree if they attempt to inflict harm upon someone else. In other words, even an unsuccessful attempt to harm someone could qualify. The most common example would be swinging a fist at someone else but failing to connect with the punch.

The penalties for a conviction under this statute can vary. Typically, assault in the 5th degree is a misdemeanor that carries no more than 90 days behind bars. However, the statute allows the state to treat this offense as a gross misdemeanor if there was a previous domestic assault by the accused targeting the same alleged victim. This charge could be treated as a felony with a maximum of fine years imprisonment if the accused has two previous convictions for domestic violence. In other words, it could be possible to face up to five years in prison if convicted after being charged with assault without touching someone.

Fourth-Degree Assault

The basics of assault in the 4th degree are the same as in the 5th. This criminal offense involves the same fact patterns and elements, but the primary difference involves the alleged victims being members of certain protected classes. These protected classes involve individuals that serve as:

  • Peace officers
  • Firefighters and emergency medical personnel
  • Department of Natural Resource employees involving in fire-fighting efforts
  • Correctional employees
  • Judges
  • Probation officers
  • Prosecuting attorneys
  • Secure treatment personnel
  • Vulnerable adults
  • Reserve officers
  • Utility and postal service employees and contractors
  • Community crime prevention group members
  • School officials
  • Bias-motived assaults
  • Transit operators
  • Public employees with mandated duties

The standard for proving assault in the 4th degree varies with each type of protected class. Most of the fact patterns that qualify as 4th degree assault involve physical injuries and demonstrable bodily harm. However, there are some specific circumstances that could result in bring charged with assault without touching someone. There is a specific element for most of these protected classes making it a crime to transfer or throw feces or bodily fluids on or at these individuals. In other words, a conviction is possible for attempting to transfer these fluids even if you were unsuccessful.

Third-Degree Assault

Third-degree assault is always treated as a felony according to Minnesota state law. This is because the offense requires evidence of substantial bodily harm in order for a conviction to be possible.

A conviction for third-degree assault generally carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or a combination of the two. However, there are circumstances that could increase those maximum penalties.

Because the charge of assault in the 3rd degree is primarily used when there is evidence of substantial bodily harm, it goes without saying that you are unlikely to face being charged with assault without touching someone. However, there is one specific situation set out in Minnesota Statute Section 609.223 that allows for a charge of third-degree assault without a physical injury.

A person that commits an assault of any kind against a minor could face third-degree assault charges if they have a past pattern if child abuse. Within this statute, child abuse is defined an act committed against a minor victim that constitutes a violation of the following laws of this state or any similar laws of the United States or any other state. A conviction under this section of the statute also results in a maximum prison term of 5 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

Second-Degree Assault

You could be charged with assault without touching with a second degree assault charge. This offense, which carries the second-highest maximum penalties of any assault charge, involves the use of a dangerous weapon.

Assault in the 2nd degree is governed by Minnesota Statutes Section 609.222. According to the statute, it is possible to secure a conviction in cases where:

  • A dangerous weapon was used in an assault, or
  • A dangerous weapon was used in an assault to inflict substantial bodily harm.

It is important to highlight this distinction, since an assault without substantial bodily harm could involve a threat or gesture made with a dangerous weapon. Under these circumstances, a conviction could result in up to seven years in prison and a fine of no more than $14,000.

For the purposes of this statute, a dangerous weapon is any firearm, whether loaded or unloaded, or any device designed as a weapon and capable of producing death or great bodily harm, any combustible or flammable liquid or other device or instrumentality that, in the manner it is used or intended to be used, is calculated or likely to produce death or great bodily harm, or any fire that is used to produce death or great bodily harm.

First-Degree Assault

Assault in the 1st degree carries the steepest penalties under state law. This offense is governed by Minnesota Statutes Section 609.221. In order to secure a conviction, the state must show that the accused assaulted another person while inflicting great bodily harm.

This type of assault generally requires physical contact of some kind due to the great bodily harm requirement. However, there is a subsection of the statute that applies to attempted use of deadly against police, judges, prosecutors, or correctional employees. In theory, attempted use of deadly force does not require any physical touching of the alleged victim. A conviction under this statute could lead to up to 20 years in prison and a fine of no more than $30,000.

Talk to Gerald Miller If You Have Been Charged With Assault Without Touching Someone in MN

If you are accused or charged with assault without touching someone, a conviction could change the course of your life forever. This is true even if you have not been accused of touching another person during the alleged assault.

The good news is that there are defenses available for every form of assault charge under state law. The attorneys of Gerald Miller understand how to build a strong defense strategy in a Minnesota assault case. To learn more about your legal options, contact the attorneys of Gerald Miller right away to schedule your free consultation.

About the author

Kyle Dreger

Kyle Dreger is a skilled DUI/DWI and Criminal Defense lawyer at Gerald Miller P.A. Kyle has received his law degree from the University of St. Thomas School of Law. He is also a professionally trained basketball player.

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