An assault in the third degree typically involves a person either inflicting substantial bodily harm on another person or assaulting a minor. In either situation, third degree assault is a felony offense and a serious criminal charge.
While assault in the third degree might not carry the same punishments as first degree and second degree assault offenses, the crimes are still taken very seriously by prosecutors. Convictions can carry very steep penalties that may include lengthy prison sentences and enormous fines.
If you were arrested or believe you could be under investigation for an alleged third degree assault in Minnesota, it is in your best interest to not speak to authorities until you have legal counsel. Do not make any statement about your case until you have contacted the Law Office of Barry Hogen.
You can have our firm conduct an independent investigation into your incident and determine all applicable defenses. Our team can review your case and discuss your legal options as soon as you call (763) 513-9085 or complete an online contact form to take advantage of a free consultation.
Third Degree Assault Laws in Minnesota
Under Minnesota Statute § 609.223(1), a person commits third degree assault when they assault another person and inflict substantial bodily harm.
Under Minnesota Statute § 609.02(10), assault is defined as causing bodily harm or attempting to cause fear of bodily harm in another. Minnesota Statute § 609.02(7a) defines substantial bodily harm as an injury that causes temporary but significant disfigurement, impairment of function, or fracture of any part of the body.
The phrase substantial bodily harm is supposed to be a higher level than simple bodily harm but less than great bodily harm. Some of the types of injuries that can lead to a substantial bodily harm designation can include debatable injuries such as concussions not involving loss of consciousness or black eyes and bloody noses.
In addition, Minnesota Statute § 609.223(2) provides that a person commits assault in the third degree when they assault a minor and have engaged in a past pattern of child abuse against the minor. Minnesota Statute § 609.223(3) establishes that an individual commits third degree assault if they assault a victim under the age of four and cause significant harm to their head, or multiple bruises to their body.
Minnesota courts have held that the statutory element of past pattern of child abuse requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt of at least two prior acts of child abuse. A jury does not need to unanimously agree on which two prior acts were proved beyond a reasonable doubt so long as at least two prior acts are supported by evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.
Penalties for a Third Degree Assault Conviction
Assault in the third degree is punishable by:
- Up to five years in prison; and/or
- Fine of up to $10,000.
Not all people are sentenced to full prison terms. In some cases, individuals may be placed on probation and are expected to abide by the terms of probation for the duration of their terms.
Any violation of a condition of probation is a new criminal offense that can carry additional criminal penalties. As a felony offense, third degree assault convictions can also lead to a person losing their right to possess firearms, explosives, or similar devices, vote, or serve on a jury. It can be extremely difficult to get these rights restored.
Additionally, any assault conviction can appear on a person’s criminal record and cause potential complications in applications for employment, housing, or professional licensing. Some individuals may also be ordered to undergo mandatory anger management counseling or, in cases involving domestic disputes, domestic abuse counseling.
Defending Against Third Degree Assault Charges
Defenses against third degree assault charges frequently depend on the nature of the alleged crime. For example, a case involving the alleged infliction of substantial bodily harm may involve investigating the actual injuries an alleged victim suffered and challenging whether such injuries actually constituted substantial bodily harm.
In a case involving assault against a minor, the alleged offender may want to try and focus on their lack of a record of previous patterns of child abuse. When a jury cannot agree that there were at least two such incidents of prior child abuse, the prosecutor may be forced to reduce or dismiss the criminal charges.
In many cases, a common defense against assault charges is that an alleged offender acted only in self-defense. In State v. Glowacki, the Supreme Court of Minnesota held that self-defense must be reasonable. In order to use this defense, the defendant will have to demonstrate that it was reasonable to believe they were in harm, reasonable to believe that force was necessary, and that the level and type of force used was reasonable given the danger at hand.
Other defenses alleged offenders may use include defense of property, defense of other people, or consent. It is also possible that an alleged offender was misidentified as an attacker if they actually have an alibi that proves that they did not commit the third degree assault.
Contact Us For A Free Consultation
Do you think that you might be under investigation or were you already arrested for assault in the third degree in Minnesota? You will want to contact the Law Office of Barry Hogen before you say anything to law enforcement.
Our firm can fight to help to protect your rights, your freedom, and your future. We will evaluate the details of your case to determine the best defense strategy and try to get your charges reduced or dismissed. Call (763) 513-9085 or contact us online to have our lawyer provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case during a free consultation.