Getting charged with a crime is hard enough to figure out. There are a lot of complicated procedures that come with heading to trial or facing sentencing. To understand the process that is ahead, you first have to understand what you have been charged with.
But in a situation that involves an alleged assault, this can be particularly difficult. Why? Because Minnesota law breaks the act of assault down in to six different potential charges. To help you better understand assault, below we’re going to explore the different types of assault charges, what they are classified as, and the resulting penalties that you may face.
What “Assault” Means in General
Let’s first start with defining “assault” under Minnesota law. In our state, intentionally attempting to cause fear of bodily harm, as well as intentionally causing bodily harm, are both considered forms of assault.
To be clear, this does not mean that you have to hit or strike someone to be charged with assault. As long as you make someone fear imminent harm (i.e. by vocal threats or attempting to strike someone), you can be charged with assault.
So where do the six different types of assault charges come in?
Breaking Assault Down into Specific Charges
Simple assault. When assault merely follows the above definition without any additional, aggravating factors being involved, it will typically be charged as a simple assault. A conviction for this type of charge has penalties that include up to 90 days in jail and/or fines of up to $1,000.
Assault with a dangerous weapon. If a dangerous weapon is used in the alleged assault (i.e. shotguns, baseball bats, gasoline), you may face an aggravated assault charge. This type of assault has penalties that include up to seven years in prison and/or fines of up to $14,000.
If the dangerous weapon caused substantial bodily harm to the victim (fractures, disfigurement, knife wounds, and so on), penalties are elevated to up to 10 years in prison and/or fines of up to $20,000.
Assault against a public employee. To be convicted of this type of assault charge, it must be proven that:
- the offender assaulted a public employee
- the offender was aware of the victim’s position
- the victim was performing his or her duties when the assault occurred
Examples of public employees include:
- Law enforcement officers
- Firefighters/emergency medical personnel
- Certain Department of Natural Resource employees
- Correctional employees, attorneys, judges, probation officers
- School officials
- Public employees with mandated duties (agricultural inspectors, public health nurses, and so on)
Charges for assaults against public employees range from gross misdemeanor to felony charges. Penalties may include up to three years in prison and/or fines of up to $6,000. However, this is not the case for every type of public employee. There are specific charges and penalties attached to each position.
If you cause substantial bodily harm to a law enforcement officer, for example, you will face up to 20 years in prison and/or fines of up to $30,000.
Hate crimes. If an assault was motivated by a prejudice against someone because of his or her race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, or other protected classes, the charge is considered a “hate crime.” Hate crimes are charged as gross misdemeanors. You may face penalties including up to one year in prison and/or fines of up to $3,000.
Domestic violence. If you commit assault against a significant other, family member, or roommate, you may be charged with domestic assault. A simple domestic assault conviction includes penalties of up to 90 days in jail and/or fines of up to $1,000. If the domestic assault involved suffocation or strangulation, penalties include up to three years in prison and/or fines of up to $5,000.
Assault by inmate.Did you know you can still get charged with assault if you are already in prison? Assaulting another inmate may extend your sentence significantly – another 90 days for a simple assault, another year for assaults against correctional officers or other protected employees. You will have to serve that extended sentence in state prison.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is a Minneapolis-based criminal and DWI defense attorney known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge, and recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star (2014–2016), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2016), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2016).