Fourth Degree Assault Defense

Assault in the fourth degree in Minnesota is often a gross misdemeanor but certain cases may result in enhanced felony charges. In these types of cases, the type of alleged victim can play an important role in determining the possible charges an alleged offender will face.

Fourth degree assault crimes carry serious penalties, whether the offense is classified as a gross misdemeanor or a felony. In either scenario, a person who is convicted could face a lengthy term of incarceration as well as steep fines.

Are you under investigation or were you already arrested for assault in Minnesota? Contact the Law Office of Barry Hogen before you speak to authorities.

Our firm knows how to protect your rights and can work to help you achieve the most favorable resolution that involves the fewest possible consequences. Call (763) 513-9085 or complete an online contact form to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal options and evaluate your case.

What are the laws?

Minnesota Statute § 609.2231 establishes that it is a gross misdemeanor when an alleged offender:

  • physically assaults a peace officer
  • assaults and inflicts demonstrable bodily harm on a Department of Natural Resources employee engaged in forest fire activities
  • assaults a school official engaged in the performance of duties and inflicts demonstrable bodily harm
  • assaults a public employee (probation or parole officer, public health nurse, occupational safety and health investigator, agricultural inspector, animal control officer, child protection worker) while engaged in the performance of a duty mandated by law, court order, or ordinance, and inflicts demonstrable bodily harm
  • assaults a community crime prevention group member engaged in neighborhood patrol and inflicts demonstrable bodily harm
  • assaults and inflicts demonstrable bodily harm on a vulnerable adult
  • assaults a reserve officer engaged in the performance of official public duties
  • assaults an employee of a utility or the United States Postal Service
  • assaults a transit operator

The same statute establishes that assault in the fourth degree is a felony when an alleged offender:

  • physically assaults a peace officer if the assault inflicts demonstrable bodily harm
  • intentionally transfers bodily fluids or feces at or onto a peace officer
  • assaults a firefighter or emergency medical personnel engaged in services, or a person providing health care services in a hospital, and inflicts demonstrable bodily harm
  • assaults and inflicts demonstrable bodily harm, or intentionally transfers body fluids or feces onto an employee of a correctional facility, a prosecuting attorney, a judge, a probation officer, other qualified person employed in supervising offenders, an employee or other individual who provides care or treatment at a secure treatment facility
  • assaults another person because of the alleged victim’s perceived race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age, or national origin within five years of a prior conviction for assault motivated by bias

Keep in mind that Minnesota Statute § 609.02(10) defines an assault as intentionally harming or causing fear of harm in another person. The phrase demonstrable bodily harm generally means physical pain or injury, illness, or any impairment of physical condition, as bodily harm is defined under Minnesota Statute § 609.02(7), that can be perceived by third parties.

What Are the Penalties?

A gross misdemeanor in Minnesota is punishable by up to one year imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $3,000. Most felony fourth degree assault crimes are punishable by up to two years in prison and/or a fine of up to $4,000.

Minnesota Statute § 609.2231(1) establishes that a fourth degree assault of a peace officer is punishable by up to three years in prison and/or a fine of up to $6,000. Not all people serve full prison sentences and instead must comply with court-ordered probation for the duration of their terms.

Whether a person is convicted of a gross misdemeanor or a felony, the conviction is still going to lead to a criminal record that can undermine a person’s attempts to obtain housing, employment, or professional licensing. Felony fourth degree assault convictions also involve the loss of multiple civil rights, including the right to vote, serve on a jury, and possess firearms, explosives, or similar devices.

Defending Against 4th Degree Assault Charges

Unlike other types of assault crimes in which the degree of bodily harm may be questioned, the minimal amount of harm required in a fourth degree assault case usually means that alleged offenders must consider other defenses. Since many of the types of crimes listed under Minnesota Statute § 609.2231 specify that an alleged offender must know or should reasonably know that an alleged victim was a member of a protected class, it may be advantageous to try to disprove that this information was known by the alleged offender.

Another common defense against many fourth degree assault charges is the claim of self-defense. However, as the Supreme Court of Minnesota stated in State v. Glowacki, the level and type of self-defense must be reasonable. The defendant will have to prove that they reasonably believed they were in danger, and that their response was reasonable for the situation.

Additional defenses might include consent, defense of other people, or defense of property. It may also be possible that an alleged offender was misidentified as an assailant when another person actually committed the assault crime.

Contact a Minneapolis Fourth Degree Assault Defense Attorney Today

If you were arrested or believe that you might be under investigation for assault in the fourth degree in Minnesota, make sure you exercise your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent until you have legal representation. Makes sure you contact Law Office of Barry Hogen as soon as possible.

Our firm will diligently investigate your incident and work to have the criminal charges against you reduced or dismissed. You can have our lawyer review your case and help you understand all of your legal options when you call (763) 513-9085 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.