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Under Minnesota law, an assault involves the intent to cause imminent fear of injury or intent to cause injury to another.  The act can be direct like punching someone or indirect like spiking someone’s drink with a drug.

Minneapolis criminal lawyers at Gerald Miller, P.A. outline the different degrees of assault, as well as potential strategies our law firm might employ to defend against these types of charges.

What are the Different Degrees of Assault?

1st Degree

The most serious form of the offense is 1st degree assault and is charged when either the accused causes great bodily harm to the complaining witness or assaults a law enforcement officer with a deadly weapon.  A violation of this offense will lead to exposure to a sentence of up to 20 years in prison or a fine of up to $30,000.

2nd Degree

The accused can face this charge if they used a dangerous weapon during the commission of the offense.  The punishment for 2nd degree assault includes a maximum term of imprisonment of 7 years or a fine up to $14,000.  If the accused inflicts substantial bodily harm, the penalties increase to a maximum of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $20,000.

3rd Degree

This offense can be charged when inflicting substantial bodily harm or assault of a minor is involved.  The exposure for a conviction of this offense is up to 5 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

4th Degree

An assault against a peace officer engaged in duties imposed by law, including executing a lawful arrest, constitutes a gross misdemeanor.  The offense carries a potential penalty of up to 12 months incarceration and a maximum fine of $3,000.

The offense becomes a felony when the victim suffers demonstrable bodily harm, which is punishable by up to 3 years in prison and a fine up to $6,000.  If an assault is committed against a fireman or other emergency medical responder during the performance of their duties, the offense is a felony, punishable by 3 years in prison and a fine up to $4,000.

If the act is motivated by prejudice based on sex, race, age, religion, color, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation, the accused can be charged with a 4th degree assault, punishable by 12 months incarceration and a fine up to $3,000.

5th Degree

This type of assault is sometimes called “simple assault”. It involves the commission of the offense with intent to cause fear or immediate bodily harm or intentionally inflicting or attempting to inflict bodily harm on another.  A violation of this grade constitutes a misdemeanor, which can result in up to 90 days in jail and/or a maximum fine of $1,000.

What are Some Assault Defense Strategies?

While our law firm will tailor our strategy to the specific facts of our client’s case, some common defenses are often asserted in assault cases.

Self-defense or defense of others can be an effective strategy, depending on the situation.  The accused does not deny that an assault occurred with either of these defenses.  Rather, the defendant contends the threatening acts justified the assault.  The defensive act must be reasonable under the circumstances.

We might contend that you had an alibi, so you could not have committed the assault.  We will also explore defenses like seeking the exclusion of illegally obtained statements and attacking the credibility of witnesses, including the alleged victim.

What If I Have More Questions?

If you or a loved one has been charged with assault in the Twin Cities or surrounding areas of Minnesota, we invite you to speak to an experienced criminal lawyer at Gerald Miller, P.A. as soon as possible.  The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can start protecting your rights.

Contact us today to schedule your free and confidential case evaluation.

Gerald Miller

Gerald Miller is a top-notch and experienced DWI/DUI lawyer at Gerald Miller P.A. in Minneapolis, MN. He has more than 35 years of experience in Criminal Defense practice. He has also been a mentor to numerous DUI/DWI defense attorneys.


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