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In Minnesota, fourth-degree assault is a serious criminal offense that carries significant consequences. If you’ve been charged with this offense, it’s crucial to understand the legal implications and seek legal representation immediately.

This comprehensive guide delves into the essential aspects of fourth-degree assault, including its definition, elements, penalties, potential defenses, and the importance of seeking legal counsel.

Get in touch with Arechigo & Stokka now to set up a meeting with one of our seasoned criminal defense lawyers.

What Is 4th-degree Assault in MN?

Fourth-degree assault occurs when someone intentionally injures or attempts to injure another person who is part of a protected class. This offense encompasses a range of actions, from intentionally touching someone without their consent to causing bodily harm.

4th-degree assault in Minnesota can also occur if the defendant’s actions were motivated by bias or prejudice based on race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression, age, national origin, or handicap.

Who Is Protected from Fourth-Degree Assault?

Minnesota law protects a wide range of public servants from fourth-degree assault while they are performing their public duties, including:

  • Police officers and reserve police officers,
  • Firefighters,
  • Paramedics,
  • Correctional officers,
  • Probation officers,
  • Prosecuting attorneys,
  • Judges,
  • Certain Department of Natural Resources employees,
  • School officials,
  • Government workers with specific duties,
  • Community crime prevention group members and volunteers,
  • Utility and postal workers, and
  • Transit operators.

Vulnerable adults or individuals who are unable to protect themselves due to age, disability, or mental impairment are also protected from 4th-degree assault in Minnesota.

What Are the Elements of Fourth-Degree Assault?

To be convicted of fourth-degree assault in Minnesota, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • Intentional Act. The defendant purposely caused or attempted to cause bodily harm to another person. This means the defendant acted deliberately to inflict harm, not simply out of negligence or recklessness.
  • Lack of Self-Defense or Defense of Others. The bodily harm was not caused by self-defense or the defense of others. This means that the harm was not justified to protect oneself or others from a threat of bodily injury.
  • Absence of Substantial Bodily Harm. The bodily harm did not result in substantial bodily harm. Substantial bodily harm refers to injuries that extend beyond minor or superficial injuries, often involving significant impairment or disfigurement.

Minor or superficial injuries like scratches, bruises, or minor cuts are not typically considered substantial bodily harm.

What Are Some Examples of 4th-degree Assault?

While the specific circumstances of each case will vary, here are some common examples of conduct that may constitute fourth-degree assault in Minnesota:

  • Punching someone in the face,
  • Pushing someone to the ground,
  • Throwing an object at someone,
  • Spitting on someone,
  • Grabbing someone’s hair or clothing in a threatening manner, or
  • Verbally threatening someone with bodily harm.

It is important to note that these are only examples; any intentional act that causes physical harm to another person may be considered fourth-degree assault. Consult an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are ever unsure whether your actions have crossed the line into assault.

What Are the Penalties for Fourth-Degree Assault?

The penalties for fourth-degree assault vary depending on the severity of the offense. In most cases, it is considered a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $3,000, or both.

However, if the assault results in demonstrable bodily harm or involves the intentional throwing of bodily fluids at a public servant in the line of duty, the offense escalates to a felony. Depending on the occupation of the person assaulted, felony fourth-degree assault carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a fine of up to $6,000.

Having a conviction for assault on your record can have serious consequences. In addition to legal repercussions, it can result in job loss, revocation of professional licenses, loss of the right to possess firearms, or even the permanent loss of legal residency for non-citizens. It can also make it challenging to find housing.

What Should I Do if I Have Been Charged with Fourth-Degree Assault?

If you have been charged with fourth-degree assault, seeking immediate legal counsel from a criminal defense lawyer is crucial to safeguard your rights and freedom and help minimize or avoid 4th-degree assault jail time. An experienced attorney can thoroughly examine the facts of your case, evaluate the relevant laws, and provide you with the best course of action. They can assist you in navigating the complex legal system, ensure your rights are protected, and negotiate a favorable outcome. In some instances, an attorney can also help reduce or dismiss the charges based on the facts of your case.

What Are Some Defenses to Fourth-Degree Assault?

Several defenses may apply to a defendant charged with fourth-degree assault, including:

  • Self-defense—The defendant acted in self-defense or the defense of others.
  • Defense of property: The defendant acted to protect their property from damage or destruction.
  • Consent—The person assaulted consented to the bodily harm.
  • Mistake of fact—The defendant did not intend to cause bodily harm.
  • Necessity—The defendant acted to prevent greater harm from occurring.
  • Intoxication—The defendant’s actions were impaired by intoxication to the extent that they lacked the intent to commit the offense.
  • Alibi—The defendant was not at the scene of the crime at the time of the alleged assault.

Each of these defenses presents a unique argument that can be tailored to the evidence and facts of your case. It is important to consult with your attorney to determine which defense strategy will be most effective. 

Arechigo & Stokka: Your Trusted Minnesota Criminal Defense Team

If you are facing charges of fourth-degree assault in Minnesota, the legal team at Arechigo & Stokka can offer you comprehensive legal support and tailored guidance. Led by recognized criminal defense expert John Arechigo, we take pride in our client-focused approach, ensuring each client gets individualized attention and customized legal strategies.

Our team is committed to thoroughly understanding the details of your case, exploring all available defense options, and representing your interests with the highest level of professionalism. 

Contact Arechigo & Stokka today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys. We also handle worker’s compensation cases. 

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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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