Assault in the first degree is a felony offense in Minnesota and the highest level of assault crime a person can be charged with. Most cases involve alleged offenders causing great bodily harm to alleged victims or committing assaults against certain protected classes.
A person who is convicted of a first degree assault crime can face serious penalties that include several long-term consequences. Prosecutors will aggressively pursue maximum punishments in these types of cases.
If you were arrested or think that you could be under investigation for an alleged first degree assault in Minnesota, it is in your best interest to exercise your right to remain silent until you have legal representation. Contact the Barry Hogen Law as soon as possible.
Our firm will work tirelessly to get your assault charges reduced or dismissed, if possible. Our team can discuss your legal options with you when you call (612) 338-5545 or fill out an online contact form to schedule an initial consultation.
First Degree Assault Laws in Minnesota
Minnesota Statute § 609.221 establishes that there are two ways a person can commit assault in the first degree. Under Minnesota Statute § 609.221(1), a person commits a first degree assault when they assault another person and inflict great bodily harm.
Assault is defined under Minnesota Statute § 609.02(10) as causing or attempting to cause injury or fear of injury in another person. Minnesota Statute § 609.02(8) defines great bodily harm as injury that causes permanent disfigurement or loss of a bodily function, or creates a high chance of death.
Under Minnesota Statute § 609.221(2), a person also commits assault in the first degree if they use deadly force to assault a peace officer, prosecuting attorney, judge, or correctional employee while they are engaged in their duties.
A first degree assault involving the alleged use of deadly force against a peace officer, prosecuting attorney, judge, or correctional employee can also involve minimum sentencing requirements being imposed if an alleged offender is convicted.
Penalties for a First Degree Assault Conviction
In general, assault in the first degree is punishable by:
- Up to 20 years in prison; and/or
- Fine of up to $30,000.
When a person is convicted of assaulting a peace officer, prosecuting attorney, judge, or correctional employee, they must be committed to the commissioner of corrections for not less than 10 years up to 20 years. These individuals are not eligible for probation, parole, discharge, work release, or supervised release until they have served the full term of imprisonment as provided by law, although state law provides certain exceptions for juvenile offenders, good time, or stays of imposition.
Felony convictions also carry other consequences that can include loss of the rights to vote, serve on a jury, and possess firearms, explosives, or similar devices. Additionally, some people who are not sentenced to full prison terms may be placed on probation for the duration of their term, and any violation of the terms of the probation can result in new criminal charges.
Criminal convictions for first degree assault also come with many non-criminal consequences. A conviction will create a permanent criminal record which will follow you for the rest of your life. This record can impede your ability to find and keep a job, find a place to live, apply for loans and licenses, and other consequences. Being labeled as a criminal can also affect your relationships and your reputation permanently. It will come into play during divorce and child custody proceedings. A conviction will alter your life irreparably.
Defending Against First Degree Assault Charges
The possible defenses that a person might have against first degree assault charges in Minnesota can vary depending on the specific situation.
One of the most common defenses is usually self-defense. With a self-defense claim, an alleged offender may argue that their actions were necessary to protect themselves from harm being inflicted by the other party. A self-defense claim, however, is less likely to be successful when a person is accused of assaulting a peace officer, prosecuting attorney, judge, or correctional employee. Furthermore, self-defense is only a valid defense if it is considered to be “reasonable.” This means that you must have had good reason to think you were in danger, that using violence was your only or best option, and that the level and type of force you used was appropriate under the circumstances. Shooting someone after they pushed you, or feeling threatened by a much smaller, weaker, and unarmed person, for example, is not grounds for self-defense.
A similar defense for first degree assault is defense of others. If you feared for the safety of another person and felt like violence was the only way to protect them, you may use this defense. The same limitations of reasonableness that apply to self-defense apply to defense of others. This defense may be especially useful during domestic violence situations where one partner feared for the safety of children.
Another possible defense in Minnesota is defense of property. You may use lethal force to defend your home from intruders, or to retrieve property stolen from your person, such as during a robbery. Defense of property is not a good defense if you were attempting to retrieve disputed property, such as property a separated partner took during divorce proceedings.
In certain cases, an alleged offender may be improperly identified as an assailant and have an alibi that proves they did not commit the alleged act. Even without an alibi, you may be able to introduce enough doubt into the case to get the charges dismissed. In criminal proceedings, the burden of proof rests with the prosecution, and alleged offenders are considered innocent until proven guilty. The prosecution must be able to prove your guilt within a reasonable doubt, and so if you can create doubt, you may go free.
Contact Us For A Consultation
Do you believe that you might be under investigation or were you already arrested for assault in the first degree in Minnesota? Do not say anything to authorities until you are able to contact the Barry Hogen Law.
Our firm is committed to helping people achieve the most favorable possible outcomes to their cases that result in the fewest possible consequences. Call (612) 338-5545 or contact us online to have our lawyer provide a complete evaluation of your case during an initial consultation.