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What Is an Assault Charge?

by | Jul 13, 2020 | Assault Charge, Firm News

An assault charge, in Minnesota, is defined as having caused/attempted to have intentionally caused bodily harm or fear of bodily harm to another individual.

A person need not necessarily hit or strike someone to be charged with assault. Even if the threat of harm is posed either physically or verbally, charges of assault may be imposed.

An experienced assault lawyer in Minnesota may be able to help offenders understand the type of assault charge levied and the associated penalties.

What Are the Different Types of Assault?

The different types of assault are:

  • Simple Assault

According to Minnesota state laws, the act of intentionally causing bodily harm, attempting to cause harm or acting in a way to cause fear of harm are defined as simple assault. This type of conviction may include penalties of up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1000.

  • Aggravated Assault

The act of causing bodily harm using a deadly weapon like a gun, vehicle or any other harmful object that may cause temporary or permanent injury is called aggravated assault. This assault may result in seven years of jail time and/or a fine of up to $14,000.

The laws of Minnesota communicate that an assault can become a felony when significant harm occurs to the body.

  • Domestic Assault

If an assault is committed against a family member, the perpetrator of the crime may be charged with domestic assault. A simple domestic assault includes penalties of up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1000. Furthermore, if the domestic assault includes suffocation and strangulation, penalties may increase to three years of jail term and/or a fine of up to $5000.

  • Assault by Inmate

Assault on an inmate in prison may extend the already imposed sentence. This may include an extra 90 days for a simple assault and another year for assault against protected employees.

  • Hate Crimes

When an assault is committed due to hatred/prejudice against an individual because of their race, religion, sex or disability, the charge is termed as a hate crime. These crimes are charged as gross misdemeanors. A person charged with hate crimes may face penalties of up to one-year jail term and/or a fine of $3000.

  • Assault against Public Employees

This type of charge includes an act wherein:

    • The offender assaulted a public employee
    • The accused assaulted the victim while being aware of his/her position
    • The victim was on duty when the assault happened

These assault charges range from a misdemeanor to a felony. Penalties for these charges include three years in prison and/or a fine of up to $6000.

How Are Assault Charges Categorized?

Assault charges are categorized as:

  • First Degree Assault

Minnesota categorizes first-degree assault as the most serious of all types. This assault includes physically harming a person with severe bodily harm. The extent of bodily harm includes the risk of death, causing disfigurement or disability.

First-degree assault is considered a felony and may result in a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $30,000.

  • Second Degree Assault

A second-degree assault charge is applicable when the prosecutor believes that the assault has happened using a weapon. The weapon needn’t necessarily be a gun. It can be anything like a bat or a block of wood that may be dangerous.

This category of assault includes a jail term of up to ten years if the assault has caused substantial bodily harm to the victim. However, if no harm has been caused, the offender may face up to seven years of jail term and/or $14,000 in fines.

  • Third Degree Assault

A third-degree assault charge is imposed on the offender if he/she may have committed any of the following:

    • Assaulted a minor under the age of four
    • Assaulted a minor where there is a history of abuse
    • Assaulted the victim with substantial bodily harm

This kind of assault may result in a penalty of up to five years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.

  • Fourth Degree Assault

A fourth-degree assault depends on the victim of the case.

If the assault is against a police officer, school official, firefighter or any other government official, the accused may face charges of a misdemeanor. The victim should have been performing his/her recognized duties at the time of the assault.

Penalties may include one year in jail and up to $3000 in fines. The same charges may be applicable if the assault has been committed against an individual due to reasons of race, religion, disability or sexual preferences.

Furthermore, in a few cases, depending upon the severity of harm caused, fourth-degree assault charges can be elevated to a felony charge.

  • Fifth Degree Assault

If an individual commits an assaultive act to intentionally harm another person or cause fear of harm on a person, a fifth-degree assault charge may be levied. It is important to note that an assault need not be committed; even an attempt is enough to face this charge.

This degree of assault is a misdemeanor, and the penalties include 90 days of jail term along with fines of up to $3000.

How Does the Severity of an Injury Impact an Assault Charge?

The degree of injury sustained in an assault is the determining factor between a misdemeanor assault and felony assault.

Consider a scenario where a person suffered a bump or bruise without leaving a permanent mark. If the defendant happened to commit this kind of an assault for the first time, it will be termed as a fifth-degree assault or misdemeanor. If the assault has left permanent injuries on the victim like a scar, it will be considered as a third-degree assault.

Again, if the victim has suffered substantial injuries like loss of body parts, wounds due to gunshot, or brain injury, the accused will be charged first-degree assault.

The severity of the injury caused by the assault plays an important role in investigating the case and to ensure that the sustained injuries meet the definitions under the statute. Moreover, this will make sure that a person is not unnecessarily punished for a crime that does not fit his/her actions.

Why Do You Need a Lawyer to Defend Assault Charges?

Case facts and circumstances vary, and so do their outcomes. Not everyone who is charged with assault will need to face the maximum extent of fines and imprisonment. An experienced assault lawyer in Minnesota can help reduce the potential penalty, get the charges lowered or even get the case dismissed, depending on the severity of the charges and extent of injuries caused as a result of the assault.


If you’re facing an assault charge, it is best to consult and seek the recommendation of a Minnesota assault lawyer.

At Carlson & Jones P.A., we are well-versed with the nuances of assault charges. Our skilled lawyers will be able to analyze your case details and represent you in the best possible manner while trying to earn the most desirable outcome.

Seek Legal Help from our Accomplished Minnesota Criminal Assault Lawyers

To get a detailed view of assault charges in the state of Minnesota and the possible defenses that can be used in your case, call our assault lawyers at 855-762-6548 or contact us online today.