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How Do Hutchinson Criminal Defense Lawyers Deal with Assault Charges?

by | Apr 21, 2019 | Criminal Defense, Firm News

There is a link between hot weather and assault cases. Statistically, assault rates usually peak in May and June when the weather is warm. When it gets hot in July and August, assault rates go down, because most people just want to run away.

So, we are getting close to another assault season. These offenses are among the most commonly-charged ones in McLeod County. Even if the defendant did not injure the alleged victim, a jury can still return an assault conviction. That’s also true if the defendant simply threatened the victim.

Fortunately for Hutchinson criminal defense lawyers, these prosecutions also have lots of moving parts. If there is a breakdown in any one area, the whole case usually comes crashing down.

Pretrial Issues

Police officers rarely stumble upon an assault in progress. Generally, they receive verbal information about a disturbance or another such incident. To justify an arrest, these tips must meet stringent legal requirements. McLeod County criminal judges look closely at things like:

  • Source: Most assault tips are anonymous tips, like “I heard two people fighting next door.” Tipsters who refuse to leave their names are unwilling to vouch for the flimsy information they provide. Furthermore, in anonymous tip cases, it’s almost impossible to determine the informer’s track record, if any.
  • Time: Assaults, especially warm-weather assaults, are spontaneous events. If the tip is more than a few minutes old, it’s probably no longer reliable. If officers make an arrest based on a stale tip, the arrest was probably just a coincidence. That coincidence does not make the tip reliable.
  • Specificity: The aforementioned “two people next door” tip is incredibly vague. There’s no way to tell which two people were fighting in which dwelling. This vague tip may not even justify an investigation, let alone an arrest. A tip like “Joe and Flo are at it again” might be sufficient.

Other cases are on the other extreme. Instead of a private conflict, the assault occurs at a large gathering, like a music festival. Officers on duty might see an assault take place in this context. But there are issues here as well.

For example, it’s often hard to separate alleged victims from alleged assailants. In most cases, a verbal fight became physically violent. Officers must determine who made the first credible threat or who threw the first punch. That determination is almost entirely subjective.

Hutchinson Criminal Defense Lawyers and Assault Defenses

Assault cases are among the few criminal law violations which require non-police witnesses. Of all the moving parts mentioned above, this aspect of a Section 609.244 or other similar infraction may be the most important to Hutchinson criminal defense lawyers.

But an attorney must tread carefully here. Some lawyers approach alleged victims to gauge their interest in the case. Alleged victims cannot “drop” charges, but they can tell prosecutors they do not want to pursue the case. However, it’s very easy for people to misinterpret or misrepresent such conversations. These misunderstandings could cause lots of trouble later.

The same thing could happen if a Hutchinson criminal defense lawyer offers to pay medical expenses. The unspoken quid for quo is that if the bills are paid, the witness will not cooperate with prosecutors. That sounds a lot like bribing a witness and obstructing justice, and prosecutors might see it that way as well.

Putting off the case may be one of the best defenses. Delays are frustrating for defendants. But during these delays, many alleged witnesses either lose interest in the case or move beyond the court’s subpoena power. Delay also gives a Hutchinson criminal defense lawyer time to fine-tune a defense. For example, many alleged victims were intoxicated during the incident. Alcohol affects memory and other key brain functions.

Legal defenses may be available as well. Minnesota is not a stand-your-ground state, but it is a castle doctrine state. So, if the incident occurred in the defendant’s home, self-defense is easier to establish in court.

Resolving Assault Cases in McLeod County

If the prosecutor’s case has any weaknesses or there is any applicable defense, it’s usually easier to engineer a favorable plea bargain, like pretrial diversion or deferred disposition. It’s important to keep an assault conviction off your record if at all possible. These offenses, especially domestic violence assault, have significant collateral consequences. And, in many cases, assault convictions cannot be expunged.

Voluntary rehabilitation may be the key. For example, if you have a substance abuse issue, a Hutchinson criminal defense lawyer may send you to Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous. Prosecutors are more willing to offer good deals if they believe the defendant is not a threat to society anymore.

Team Up with Experienced Attorneys

If you were charged with misdemeanor or felony assault, you have options. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson criminal defense lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in McLeod County and nearby jurisdictions.