Misunderstandings happen, many of which result in criminal charges for assault. But there are varying degrees of assault under Minnesota law. The line separating these offenses can be thin and hard to pin down. So, when does a action rise to the level of First Degree Assault? First Degree Assault is the most serious level of Assault under Minnesota law. This type of Assault only occurs in a few narrowly defined scenarios, including when
- The assault caused, or created a high degree of likelihood of, permanent disfigurement, death, or impairment.
- The assault used, or attempted to use, deadly force on a police officer or correctional officer while the person was performing their employment duties.
According to Minnesota Statute 609.224, “serious bodily harm” is defined as an injury which causes substantial risk of death, or causes the disfigurement, loss, or loss of use of any bodily organ or member.
The consequences for this charge are serious. If you’ve been charged, you could face up to 20 years in prison, and/or a fine of up to $30,000. Minnesota uses mandatory minimum sentencing for crimes of this type, and if the assault was of the second type (assault on a police officer or correctional officer) and you are convicted, the mandatory minimum sentence is 10 years. If you have no prior assault history, but your assault caused serious bodily harm, the mandatory minimum sentence is 74 months.
Whether an action rises to the level of 1st Degree Assault, is a question that involves complex legal analysis. These cases often involve self-defense or the defense of others, physical DNA evidence, and the wrongful testimony of those who allege to be victims or witnesses. When the assault involves a police officer, it usually boils down to your word as a citizen or an inmate against the testimony of a police officer or correctional officer, and because the assault need only be attempted rather than carried out, it is frighteningly easy to land in very deep legal hot water. These reasons and the severe consequences make it essential to secure experienced legal aid from the outset of your case who will take the time to understand your story and help you craft a convincing legal strategy.