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Any assault charge can inflict negative consequences. The level of an assault charge depends on several factors, such as the extent of the victim’s injury, whether the accused utilized a weapon in the assault, the number of alleged perpetrators, and the perceived intent of the accused. 

An experienced assault lawyer can review the details of your case to determine what legal defense applies. A legal defense can defeat an element of your assault charge in some cases, possibly resulting in dismissal of the case.

The lawyers at the Criminal Defense Attorney and Workers Compensation Law Offices of Arechigo & Stokka have decades of experience helping individuals fight against criminal charges in Minnesota.

What Characteristic Distinguishes an Aggravated Assault from a Simple Assault?

Instead of separating assault into categories of simple or aggravated, Minnesota outlines five different degrees for assault crimes. A Fifth Degree Assault charge is a misdemeanor. A Fourth Degree Assault charge can either be charged as a gross misdemeanor or felony, depending on the alleged circumstances. Third through First Degree Assault charges are always felony charges.

Potential penalties vary widely from 5th to 1st Degree, with 1st Degree Assault charges carrying significantly severe penalties. Assault charges can also be enhanced to a more serious charge if the accused has a prior assault conviction on their record.

Assault in the fifth degree occurs when someone:

  • Commits an act with intent to cause another person fear of immediate bodily harm or death; or

  • Intentionally inflicts or attempts to inflict bodily harm on another person.

Bodily harm means physical pain or injury, illness, or any impairment of a physical condition.

Assault in the fourth degree involves situations where the assault is committed against a certain class of individuals, including:

  • Peace officers,

  • Emergency medical personnel,

  • Correctional officers,

  • Prosecuting attorneys,

  • Judges,

  • Probation officers,

  •  School officials,

  • Vulnerable adults, or 

  • Secure treatment facility employees.

Fourth-degree assault also includes assault motivated by bias, such as religion, sex, race, color, and sexual orientation. Fourth-degree assault is generally considered a gross misdemeanor but can increase to a felony if the victim suffered demonstrable bodily harm or involves bodily fluids.

Types of Aggravated Assault in Minnesota

Assault in the third degree occurs when someone inflicts substantial bodily harm on another person. This charge carries the potential of up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Substantial bodily harm means bodily injury that involves a temporary but substantial disfigurement, that causes a temporary but substantial loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ, or that causes a fracture of any bodily member.

The offense is also considered third-degree assault if the accused has engaged in a past pattern of child abuse against a minor and is convicted of abusing the same minor.

Any assault on a child under four years old that causes bodily harm to their head, eyes, or neck or otherwise causes multiple bruises is considered third-degree assault.

Assault in the second degree occurs when someone uses a deadly weapon to assault another person. Second-degree assault is punishable by up to 7 years in prison and a fine of up to $14,000. If the accused inflicts substantial bodily harm on the victim, they can face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000.

Assault in the first degree occurs when someone assaults another person and inflicts great bodily harm. It is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $30,000.

Great bodily harm means bodily injury that creates a high probability of death, causes serious permanent disfigurement, or causes a permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.

First-degree assault also includes instances of attempting to use deadly force, inflicting great bodily harm, or using a dangerous weapon against a peace officer, prosecuting attorney, judge, or correctional employee.

What Are the Most Common Circumstances Surrounding Aggravated Assault?

Aggravated assault charges can arise due to specific circumstances, including:

  • The type of the victim,

  • If a weapon is used during the assault, and

  • If the victim suffers great bodily harm.

A qualified attorney can review the details of your case and determine whether the prosecutor can prove aggravated assault charges against you.

Contact Arechigo & Stokka to Discuss an Aggravated Assault Charge in Minnesota

Our team at Arechigo & Stokka is committed to offering our clients personalized legal services and compassionate advice. Our founding attorney, John Arechigo, is passionate about defending the rights of those facing criminal accusations. John was recognized as an Attorney of the Year in 2015 and 2019.

We take the time to meet one-on-one with our clients to listen to the details of their case. Our team can then use this information to tailor a defense to your circumstances. Contact our office today to discuss your case with a criminal defense lawyer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Our team compiled a list of frequently asked questions about simple and aggravated assault charges in Minnesota. The answers to these questions are provided below.

Which of the Following Is an Additional Element that Must be Added to Increase Simple Assault to Aggravated Assault?

Several different factors can increase the level of an assault charge in Minnesota. For example, the use of a deadly weapon automatically increases an assault charge to second-degree assault.

Additionally, the type of victim can automatically increase the discipline category. For example, attempting to assault a peace officer carries stiffer penalties than attempting to assault someone who is not a peace officer.

What Is a Dangerous Weapon?

A dangerous weapon can include the following:

  • Firearms,

  • Any device designed as a weapon and capable of producing death or great bodily harm,

  • Any combustible or flammable liquid, and

  • Other devices that are used or intended to be used to produce death or great bodily harm.

The use of a dangerous weapon to assault someone can automatically increase the penalties available for a conviction. 

Author Photo John T. Arechigo, Esq.

Attorney John Arechigo has a passion for criminal defense in St. Paul, MN. John received his J.D., from Hamline University School of Law and also carries a Bachelor of Arts from, The University of Minnesota. John was named Attorney of the Year for 2019 by Minnesota Lawyer. Additionally, John was also named as a 2019 Rising Star and was selected to Minnesota Super Lawyers in 2021. He devotes nearly 100% of his practice to defending individuals charged with a crime.

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