Even the Lowest-Level MN Assault Can Result in a Felony Charge

Assault is a charge that can happen almost anywhere and be perpetrated by almost anyone. In fact, under Minnesota law, you may be surprised to find out what type of actions can be charged as assault.

Recently, a Duluth firefighter was charged with assault after attacking a woman on a trail. The woman had her dog unleashed, which allegedly led to the assault.

Losing your cool can certainly land you in a lot of legal hot water, especially when it comes to assault charges. Here’s what you need to know about the different degrees of assault in Minnesota and the penalties that can be faced.

How Minnesota Defines Assault

You often hear the term “assault and battery.” In some states, assault and battery are separate offenses. However, Minnesota has laws that cover both assault and traditional battery offenses.

Assault is defined as threatening another person and putting them in fear of bodily harm. A battery crime occurs when unwanted physical contact is made with another person. Both are criminal charges.

First-Degree Assault in Minnesota

First-degree assault is perpetrated when great bodily harm is caused to someone else. It is also charged when a dangerous weapon is used and substantial bodily harm is caused upon a prosecutor, correctional facility employee, judge, or peace officer while they are on duty.

First-degree assault where great bodily harm is caused can be punished by as much as 20 years in prison and fines of as much as $30,000. Assaulting a person on duty in their official legal capacity is punishable by up to 20 years in prison as well and fines reaching as much as $30,000.

MN’s Second-Degree Assault Charge

Second-degree assault is perpetrated when a dangerous weapon is utilized to commit the assault or a dangerous weapon is employed and great bodily injury is inflicted.

This degree of assault can carry a sentence of as many as seven years in prison and fines of as much as $14,000, but if bodily harm is inflected then the prison sentence rises to 10 years behind bars and up to $20,000 in fines.

Minnesota Assault in the Third Degree

When an assault is committed and great bodily harm is inflected, a minor was assaulted as a pattern of child abuse, or the victim was under four years of age at the time of the assault, then you can face third-degree assault charges.

Penalties for convictions of any of these crimes can include as many as five years behind bars and fines that can reach as high as $10,000 per charge.

Fourth-Degree Assault in MN

This level of assault occurs when certain victims are assaulted such as firefighters, police officers, school officials, and the like.

It can also be charged if it’s determined the victim was assaulted based on their religion, sexual preference, race, or disability.

While assault in the first, second, and third-degree is a felony, fourth-degree assault is considered a gross misdemeanor. Penalties can range from a few months up to a year in prison and fines max out at $3,000.

Minnesota’s Fifth-Degree Assault Charge

Assault in the fifth degree is usually the least serious assault charge and considered a misdemeanor. It is charged when the assault is committed with the intent to cause bodily harm or fear or if harm was inflected or was attempted to be inflicted.

What’s unique about this charge is that the assault doesn’t have to be successful in order to be charged, simply attempted.

It is punishable by up to 90 days behind bars and a fine for as much as $1,000. However, this charge may be elevated to a felony if it was perpetrated within three years of two or more convictions of domestic violence.


About the Author:

A lifelong Minnesotan, founding partner Ronald R. Envall has spent his entire legal career fighting for the little guy, focusing on workers’ compensation, Social Security, and personal injury cases. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers as a Top Rated Attorney in Duluth, placing him in the top 5 percent of all workers comp lawyers across the state. In his free time, Mr. Envall serves on the boards of several area government and nonprofit organizations and is a member of the Minnesota Association for Justice, which supports consumer rights.