As the outside temperature rises, the number of criminal assaults usually rises as well. Researchers say the reason is simple. Hot weather makes people cranky. So, a minor affront suddenly becomes a major offense which justifies, or even demands, a violent response. In some studies, hot weather increased the number of violent assaults by as much as 15 percent.
There are five different types of assault in Minnesota law. All of them have basically the same defenses. Sometimes, police officers did not have probable cause to enter private property and stop an assault. Other times, officers arrive after the alleged assault occurred. The alleged victim’s story is so shaky, perhaps because s/he was intoxicated, that officers make an arrest even though they lack probable cause.
In still other cases, the complaining witness moves beyond the court’s subpoena power or simply loses interest in the case. If these things happen, McLeod County prosecutors have a hard time establishing guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
A Hutchinson, MN lawyer can use these defenses, and others, to obtain a not-guilty verdict at trial, negotiate a favorable pretrial settlement, or have the case thrown out of court.
Fifth Degree Assualt
Simple assault is the most common kind of assault case in McLeod County, probably because it is the easiest kind of assault to prove in court.
In many cases, fifth-degree assault is a lot like common law assault. A credible threat of imminent violence is enough to satisfy the elements of this offense. In other words, prosecutors do not need to prove the defendant injured the alleged victim. IN fact, prosecutors do not even need to prove the defendant touched the alleged victim.
Fifth-degree assault could mean a maximum 90 days in jail. There are some collateral consequences as well. Assault is a crime of moral turpitude. That label could cause immigration, employment, and other problems.
The next step up is fourth-degree assault, which is a gross misdemeanor (maximum one year in jail). Prosecutors could upgrade the charges to a felony, in some cases.
This offense is basically fifth-degree assault with some aggravating circumstances. If the alleged victim is in a protected class, which includes police officers, probation officers, medical officers, and other public servants, the defendant will probably face fourth-degree charges if the alleged victim sustained no visible injury. Additionally, if there is hate crime evidence, fifth-degree assault moves up to fourth-degree assault. In Minnesota, it is illegal to target people because of their religion, sexual orientation, race, or disability. The required animus is sometimes difficult to prove in court.
The least serious kind of felony assault could mean up to five years in prison. Prosecutors will file these charges if the defendant did not inflict serious bodily injury and the defendant did not use a deadly weapon. Additionally, Hutchinson, MN lawyers can reduce these charges to a misdemeanor unless the alleged victim:
- Was a minor who had been physically abused before,
- Suffered “considerable bodily harm,” or
- Was under five years old at the time.
There are basically three levels of harm in Minnesota assault cases. Considerable bodily harm typically means putting someone in an ambulance for some superficial wound care. Substantial bodily harm basically means sending someone to the emergency room with a broken arm. Great bodily harm usually means putting someone in the intensive care unit with a ruptured spleen.
Many times, Hutchinson, MN lawyers can get the charges reduced because the defendant did not inflict the requisite amount of harm. For example, the alleged victim might check himself into the emergency room and leave before receiving treatment. In that situation, there may not be enough evidence to support felony charges.
Defendants who use deadly weapons during assaults can be charged with second-degree of assault, regardless of the degree of injury. Under Minnesota law, pretty much anything can be a deadly weapon. Some examples include:
- Bowling balls,
- Frying pans,
- Baseball bats, and
- Golf clubs.
Prosecutors must establish that the defendant intended to use the object as a deadly weapon. Defendants who inflict substantial bodily harm face up to ten years in prison; others face up to seven years in prison.
In layman’s terms, first-degree assault is one step short of murder or attempted murder. An alleged victim must suffer great bodily harm. These assaults usually, but do not always, involve deadly weapons. The maximum penalty is twenty years in prison.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
When the weather gets hot, people get hot as well. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson, MN lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in McLeod County and nearby jurisdictions.