A bar fight. That’s the kind of thing that comes to mind for most people when they hear the word “assault.” Maybe there’s shoving. Maybe punching. Someone might end up with a black eye or a lost tooth. Basically, things get physical.
However, you can be charged with assault in Minnesota even if you didn’t cause any physical harm to the alleged victim. In this post, we’ll define exactly what it means to “assault” someone under the law and how the parties involved and the specific actions taken can impact your charges.
Simple Assault in Minnesota
A person commits this crime by intentionally attempting to inflict injury, intentionally inflicting injury, or acting in a manner than intends to cause fear of imminent injury or death.
That last part is how you can “assault” someone without physically hurting them. Essentially, threatening them so that they fear getting hurt is an assault.
Here are several examples of simple assault:
- Striking someone with a fist or object
- Attempting to strike someone with a fist or object, but failing to make contact
- Lunging at someone with an intent to cause fear of imminent bodily injury
Simple assault is typically charged as a misdemeanor. A conviction for simple assault can result in penalties of up to 90 days in jail, a fine of $1,000, or both.
If you are facing simple assault charges, it’s important to consult an attorney about your defense options.
Enhanced Assault Charges in Minnesota
Simple assault will be elevated to a gross misdemeanor for the use of a firearm during the assault or for prior convictions. A conviction for a gross misdemeanor carries penalties of up to one year in jail, a fine of $3,000, or both.
If anyone in these protected classes is a victim of demonstrable bodily harm, gross misdemeanor assault charges can apply when they are engaged in their work duties.
- Agricultural inspectors
- Animal control officers
- Child protection workers
- Community crime prevention group members on patrol
- Occupational safety and health investigators
- Law enforcement officers
- Parole or probation officers
- Postal service employees
- Public health nurses
- Utility workers
- Vulnerable adults
Minnesota law defines vulnerable adults as people who receive home care services or most forms of inpatient or outpatient treatment. It also protects adults who are physically or mentally disabled and unable to protect or care for themselves.
Hate crimes are punished as gross misdemeanors in Minnesota. If a person endures assault due to their race, religion, gender, disability, or other factors, they have special protections under Minnesota law.
Felony Assault Charges in Minnesota
In assault cases that involve domestic violence, simple assault can be raised to felony assault for two or more prior convictions. Penalties for a subsequent conviction include up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
Any assault that causes substantial or serious injury can be prosecuted as a felony. The same applies for assaults that cause demonstrable bodily harm to teachers, school employees, school administrators while on the job, and Department of Natural Resources employees who are working in forest fire activities.
Assault that causes great bodily harm is a first degree felony in Minnesota. A conviction will result in up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $30,000, or both.
The use of deadly force against the following protected classes while they are engaged in their duties will also result in a first degree felony charge:
- Peace officer
- Prosecuting attorney
- Department of Corrections employee
If you are charged with assault in Minnesota based on alleged threatening actions you made, remember that there are two sides. Not only does the victim have to believe they were in imminent danger, you have to intend that your actions be perceived as a threat. If the prosecution is unable to prove intent, you will not be convicted.
This is just one way you can beat your charges.
About the Author:
A former prosecutor and lifelong Minnesotan, Christian Peterson has handled hundreds of criminal cases from both sides of the aisle since he began practicing law in 2006, as well as a wide variety of family law matters. This background allows him to look at situations from all angles and anticipate which arguments the other side may use, increasing his clients’ chances of success. His work has been recognized by the American Society of Legal Advocates, the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys, and National Trial Lawyers, and he has a perfect 10/10 rating from Avvo.