Reports are coming from cities throughout the country that Asians and Asian Americans being targeted for harassment and assault related to COVID-19.
These crimes appear to carry a racial element of bias some people believe stems from the President’s describing the virus at one point as the “Chinese virus.”
In response to the uptick in hate crimes, Minnesota law enforcement is committed to curbing crimes committed with this bias, and to prosecute offenders to the full extent of the law.
For those facing hate crime accusations, it is imperative you understand how the penalties for a crime such as assault can become magnified when a hate crime enhancement is attached.
Let’s take a deeper dive into how a hate-crime enhancement works…
What Are the Laws for Assault in Minnesota?
Assault in Minnesota can cover a wide range of actions. Minnesota statute gives the following definition for assault:
“Whoever does any of the following commits an assault and is guilty of a misdemeanor:
1) commits an act with the intent to cause fear in another of immediate bodily harm or death, or 2) intentionally inflicts or attempts to inflict bodily harm upon another.”
This is a broad definition and includes acts like hitting, kicking, threatening another person, or even attempting to hit someone and missing.
It’s important to note that even if a person merely feels threatened, it may be grounds enough for assault charges. There does not have to be any intent behind your assaultive action.
Assault Motivated by Bias
There are different levels to assault in the state of Minnesota. For crimes committed explicitly against a person due to race or another perceived bias, the crime becomes exactly that “assault motivated by bias.”
The Minnesota statutes give the following definition for what a bias is:
“…because of the victim’s or another person’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability…”
Other Acts of Assault
There are various other types of assault, which can all be enhanced by assault with a bias. This includes
- Fourth-Degree Assault: an assault on certain classes of victims including police officers, firefighters, and school officials
- Third-Degree Assault: causing substantial bodily harm, assaulting a minor with similar prior offenses, or assaulting a child under the age of 4 and causing bodily injury
- Second-Degree Assault: using a dangerous weapon or using a deadly weapon and inflicting substantial bodily harm
- First-Degree Assault: inflicting great boldly harm or using deadly force against peace officers, prosecuting attornies, judges, or corrections officers
What Are the Penalties for Assault and Assault Motivated by Bias?
Penalties for assault in the state of Minnesota can vary depending on various factors. For simple assault, the crime is considered a misdemeanor. The punishment for a misdemeanor is no more than 90 days in jail and/or a fine of no more than $1,000.
- For fourth-degree assault, the crime is a felony and is punishable by not more than three years in jail, a fine not to exceed $6,000, or both.
- Third-degree felonies can carry a penalty of not more than five years in prison, a fine of $10,000, or both.
- Second-degree felonies can carry penalties of 7 to 10 years in prison and/or fines $14,000 to $20,000.
- First-degree felonies carry a punishment of up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine not to exceed $30,000.
The addition of a bias enhancement adds up to 25 percent maximum to the regular maximum penalty that would typically be given. So, for example, a first-degree felony could have an enhanced sentence of 37.5 years.
Committing assault in Minnesota with a bias enhancement is a severe crime. It is important to remember that the bias is not a crime in and of itself, but an enhancement that may be applied at sentencing for a criminal conviction. The added enhancement can add years to the penalty otherwise given.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is an AV-Preeminent rated criminal and DWI defense attorney based in Minneapolis who is 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 named a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law by the Minnesota Bar Association. Mr. Keyers is Lead Counsel rated, and he has received recognition for his criminal law work from Avvo, Expertise, Super Lawyers, The National Trial Lawyers, and more.