If you were arrested and charged with assault in Minneapolis, the first call you make should be to the experienced criminal defense attorney Barry Hogen. For almost thirty years, he has helped people just like you fight against allegations like these, and he’s ready to help you.
Assault is a very serious offense, and accusations can occur due to a number of circumstances. Often, those accused were involved in a fight with a friend, a stranger, a spouse. If you argued with someone on the road, were involved in a bar fight, or threatened to harm someone else, you could be charged with assault. Even if you were defending yourself, it is still possible to face criminal charges.
If you have been charged with assault, it is important to seek legal representation as soon as possible. Remember that you are always innocent until proven guilty, and you do not have to simply accept the charges that you are facing.
When you have a Golden Valley criminal defense lawyer working for you, you could dramatically improve your chances of acquittal, dismissed charges, or reduced charges. At the Law Office of Barry Hogen, our team will work tirelessly to help you get the best result in your case.
This means investigating every element of the case. Witnesses, police reports, medical reports, videos, and all evidence will be reviewed, and we will work to build the strongest case possible on your behalf.
What are the laws?
Minnesota law defines assault as any act that inflicts bodily harm or causes fear of bodily harm in another. Assault crimes are broken into five degrees in Minnesota:
Assault in the Fifth Degree — A person commits misdemeanor assault in the fifth degree if they harm, attempt to harm, or attempt to cause fear of harm in another. A person commits gross misdemeanor assault in the fifth degree if they commit those acts against someone whom they have a previous domestic violence conviction for. A person commits felony assault in the fifth degree if they commit those acts against someone whom they have multiple previous domestic violence convictions for.
Assault in the Fourth Degree — A person commits misdemeanor assault in the fourth degree if they assault a protected class member. Protected classes under this statute include peace officers, firefighters, emergency medical personnel, certain Department of Natural Resources employees, correctional employees, prosecuting attorneys, judges, probation officers, secure treatment facility personnel, school officials, public employees with mandated duties, community crime prevention group members, vulnerable adults, reserve officers, utility and postal service employees and contractors, and transit operators. Assaults motivated by bias, or “hate crimes,” also constitute assault in the fourth degree. Most of these offenses are gross misdemeanors, but certain crimes are felony offenses.
Assault in the Third Degree — A person commits the felony offense of assault in the third degree if they assault another person and cause substantial bodily harm. Substantial bodily harm refers to an injury which causes temporary disfigurement, loss or impairment of any bodily function, or fracture of any part of the body.
Assault in the Second Degree — A person commits the felony offense of assault in the second degree if they assault another person with a dangerous weapon. Dangerous weapons include loaded or unloaded guns, any flammable liquid, or any other device which can be used to inflict harm or death.
Assault in the First Degree — A person commits the felony offense of assault in the first degree if they inflict great bodily harm against a person or member of a protected class. Great bodily harm refers to an injury which is likely to cause death, permanent disfigurement, or permanent loss or impairment of a bodily function.
In addition to the five types of assault crimes listed above, a person can also be charged with the criminal offense of domestic assault. A person commits misdemeanor domestic assault if they commit assault against a family member, household member, or romantic/sexual partner. Domestic assault is a gross misdemeanor if it occurs within 10 years of a previous domestic violence-related conviction. A domestic assault committed with a firearm is also a gross misdemeanor.
What are the penalties?
The sentence a person can receive if convicted of an assault crime in Minnesota will depend on how the offense has been classified. The maximum sentences in these cases are generally as follows:
- Misdemeanor Assault in the Fifth Degree — Up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000
- Gross Misdemeanor Assault in the Fifth Degree — Up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $3,000
- Felony Assault in the Fifth Degree — Up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000
- Gross Misdemeanor Assault in the Fourth Degree — Up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $3,000
- Felony Assault in the Fourth Degree — Offenses committed against peace officers are punishable by up to three years in prison and/or a fine of up to $6,000. Offenses committed against firefighters, emergency medical personnel, correctional employees, prosecuting attorneys, judges, probation officers, or secure treatment facility personnel are punishable by up to two years in prison and/or a fine of up to $4,000. Felony assaults motivated by bias are punishable by up to one year and one day in prison and/or a fine of up to $3,000.
- Felony Assault in the Third Degree — Up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
- Felony Assault in the Second Degree — Offenses committed with a dangerous weapon are punishable by up to seven years in prison and/or a fine of up to $14,000. Offenses committed with a dangerous weapon that inflict serious bodily harm are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $20,000.
- Felony Assault in the First Degree — Up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $30,000.
It is important to note that Minnesota law prevents a person convicted of a crime of violence is not entitled to own or transport a firearm.
Defending against assault charges
Your Hennepin County criminal defense lawyer will create a strategic defense for you. This defense will involve showing the facts, but also present them in a way that shows you do not deserve to be convicted or to be convicted of the maximum charges. Lawyers have seen many assault cases, so they know what the common defenses are. Some common defenses against assault charges include:
- Self Defense: Self defense is the most common defense against assault charges. In order to prove self defense, you must be able to show four things: that there was a threat, that you felt legitimately frightened, that you did not escalate or provoke the other party in any way, and that there was no other reasonable means of exiting the situation. However, there are still limitations to self defense as a defense against assault charges. The amount of force used must be appropriate for the situation, including the threats you experienced and who was threatening you. For example, using self-defense against the assault’s of a child or a much smaller, weaker person may not work, unless that person had access to weapons you did not have.
- Defense of Others: Defense of others works much the same way as self-defense, with similar requirements and limitations. The main difference is that the perceived threat must be against another person. This defense may be particularly useful in domestic violence situations where children are involved.
- Defense of Property: In Minnesota, you may use force, even deadly force, to defend your home. In order to use this defense as a defense for assault, you must prove three things: that you were preventing a felony in your home (including burglary, robbery, assault, and rape), that you reasonably judged the seriousness of the situation, and that your actions were reasonable under the circumstances. This defense doesn’t work as well when it comes to the defense of personal property unless that property was taken from your person. For example, if you have a dispute over property division during a divorce, you likely cannot use assault to retrieve your property. But, if your purse is snatched or your wallet pickpocketed while on the street, assault’s may be permissible.
While you may know that one of these defenses applies to you, it is much harder to actually prove that in a court of law. That’s why having an experienced attorney on your side is critical. They know what evidence is required to demonstrate your innocence, and they know how to best present your side of the story. You can count on your attorney to fight for you, your rights, and your future every step of the way. Attempting to defend yourself, or relying on an overworked public defender, may end disastrously for you. With so much at stake, you need the best possible lawyer on your side.
Contact Us For A Free Consultation
Law enforcement and the courts in Minnesota view assault’s as a serious offense, and the prosecutor will often push for harsh penalties upon conviction. If you have been accused of assault, you do not have to accept this punishment, and have every right to defend yourself against the charges you face.
At the Law Office of Barry Hogen, we take that doctrine to heart. We will zealously defend your rights and do everything possible to tell your side of the story. With us on your side, you have a much higher chance of receiving a reduced sentence, or having the charges dropped entirely. To learn more about your rights and options, call (763) 513-9085 to schedule a confidential consultation.