Even if you’ve never been mixed up with the law before, chances are you’ve heard the term assault before. For most people, though, it isn’t exactly clear what constitutes assault. It’s why a lot of people are surprised when they hear someone’s been charged with this particular offense.
So what is assault?
Assault in St. Paul
In some parts of the U.S. assault is a separate crime from battery. Assault is in your intent or attempt to injure someone, whereas battery is the actually harming of a person. This is why you never hear of someone committing battery without also committing assault. In Minnesota, though, assault is simply a crime that comes in various degrees of seriousness. When you commit a lesser degree of assault, for example, you don’t actually need to touch them at all. If you threaten someone, or if you attempt to hit them and miss, then you have still committed assault. However, if you do actually injure someone, then that is going to aggravate the degree of assault you’ve committed.
Degrees and Levels of Assault
Assault comes in a variety of levels in the State of Minnesota. It’s important to understand what they are, and how series a crime is, when you’re looking at what an incident may be legally classified as. Especially if you or someone you love is caught up in an assault case.
The lowest possible degree of this crime is fifth-degree assault. This degree of assault only requires that you intended to injure someone, or that someone was afraid you would injure them. A threat delivered in a moment of passion, whether or not you meant it, often falls into this category of assault.
A fourth-degree assault is different from a fifth-degree assault in a few important ways. If the assault is directed at a police officer or other public servant (such as a court officer or government employee), and the individual has a personal bias against the victim, then that makes it a fourth-degree assault. Both elements need to be present in this case.
If someone does inflict bodily harm on a victim, and it was substantial enough to send that person to the hospital for treatment, then you’re crossing into the realm of a third-degree assault. This is what most people picture when they hear that someone was assaulted, but as you can see things have had to get pretty serious before real physical harm is done to a victim in terms of an assault charge.
Second-degree assault is a physical assault that includes the use of a deadly weapon. While this means a knife or a gun to most people, it’s important to remember that practically any implement used as a weapon might qualify. A frying pan, a stool, practically anything capable of inflicting grievous personal harm can make an assault qualify as a second-degree crime. It’s important to remember that the person doesn’t have to seriously harm someone with the weapon; simply attempting to use it is enough.
First-degree assault is when the victim suffered great bodily harm (typically enough to do serious damage, like putting someone in a coma). This same charge may be brought against someone who uses deadly force against a police officer or a prison guard, as well.
Do You Need Help?
If you find yourself caught up in a case of assault in St. Paul, then chances are good you need someone on your side to help guide you through the specifics of the law, and to get you back to dry land. For help from our legal experts, all you have to do is contact us today!
Disclaimer: The information contained on this page does not constitute an attorney client relationship. Be sure to contact our law office to discuss your case with an attorney.