A Hutchinson Criminal Lawyer Explains the 5 Types of Assault Cases in MN

Most assault cases occur when the temperature is between 80 and about 90 degrees. That sounds like a Minnesota summer to me. Heat increases testosterone production, which increases aggression. When the temperature gets much higher than 90, people stay inside, so the assault rate goes down.

In all these cases, the prosecutor must establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Lack of evidence is usually one of the best defenses a Hutchinson criminal lawyer can use. However, sometimes it’s better to settle these cases out of court. Trails are very risky affairs, even if the prosecutor’s evidence is not very good.

Below, we’ll talk more about the defense strategies a Hutchison assault attorney can employ in your case. But first, let’s discuss the five most common types of assault charges.

1. Child Abuse in Hutchinson and MN

Pretty much all child abuse and neglect issues are very subjective. For example, assume Cindy’s dad consistently lets her stay up late. So, she often falls asleep in school. In some contexts, especially a family law proceeding, Dad’s actions could be considered child endangerment.

That subjectivity extends to Minnesota Statute Section 609.377, which is the state’s main child abuse law. It applies if a parent, guardian, or legal caretaker:

  • Uses cruel discipline or unreasonable force
  • Which is excessive given all the circumstances.

That subjective definition could include just about anything. Corporal punishment is a good example, and as a Hutchinson criminal lawyer as well as a parent, I address this issue a lot. Some parents consider paddling or spanking cruel and excessive; other parents have no problem with it at all.

The alleged infraction, child’s age, and amount of force often control the outcome. There’s a difference between spanking Ben because he ran out into the street and spanking him because he forgot to wash behind his ears. Ben’s age makes a difference as well. A ten-year-old is usually held to a higher standard than a four-year-old. Finally, the number of force matters. Did Ben’s dad leave a red mark or cause a deep bruise?

If all three of these areas favor the defendant, it’s nearly impossible to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In borderline cases, Hutchinson criminal lawyers often try to plead these cases down to reckless conduct or another lesser-included offense.

2. Simple Assault in Hutchinson and Minnesota

Fifth-degree assault is the most commonly-charged assault case in McLeod County. First time assault is a misdemeanor, subsequent assault is usually a gross misdemeanor, and subsequent assault against the same alleged victim is usually a felony. The elements are:

  • Committing an act with intent to cause fear in another of immediate bodily harm or death; or
  • Intentionally inflicting or attempting to inflict bodily harm upon another.

Note that injury, no matter how slight, is not an element of this offense. Note also that physical contact, no matter how slight, is not an element either. Hutchinson criminal lawyers have an easier time defending non-injury and/or non-contact cases. But prosecutors can and do still obtain convictions in these instances.

Assault and a few other cases, like theft, require lay witness testimony from an alleged victim. Unlike police officers, assault victims are not professional witnesses. Also unlike police officers, alleged victims are not always cooperative. In other cases, alleged victims relocate beyond the court’s jurisdiction, and prosecutors cannot subpoena or locate them.

Some states have lesser assault statutes which are essentially like traffic tickets. Minnesota really has no such law, so a Hutchinson criminal lawyer’s plea bargaining options are a little more limited. However, the aforementioned reckless conduct charge may be available if the prosecutor’s evidence is quite weak.

3. Domestic Assault in MN

Facially, this charge is pretty much the same as fifth-degree assault. However, domestic violence assault has a number of collateral consequences. For example, persons with domestic assault convictions have a very hard time getting a fair shake in family court, even if the incident occurred years ago and involved a different family. Additionally, many domestic violence victims obtain restraining orders, and these proceedings are quite complex.

An alleged victim cannot “drop” the charges under any circumstances. A person can say s/he does not want to pursue charges, but the prosecutor has the final call. If the prosecutor wants to go forward, the judge could issue a subpoena and force the victim to testify.

The domestic assault law only applies in certain situations, and some of them are very difficult to prove. The protected categories are:

  • Persons related by blood or marriage,
  • Current or former roommates, and
  • People who are involved in a significant romantic relationship.

Common-law marriage usually does not count. Furthermore, a single one night stand does not mean that two people are roommates or involved in a significant romantic relationship.

Especially if the victim is uncooperative, prosecutors are often willing to reduce charges to simple assault. That conviction does not have nearly as many collateral consequences. However, many prosecutors do not reduce charges under any circumstances. They’d rather die with their boots on.

4. Aggravated Assault in MN

In Minnesota, aggravated assault is an assault that causes temporary or permanent injuries. As the name suggests, aggravated assaults also include one or more aggravating factors.

An example of an aggravating factor is using a weapon during the assault. Aggravated assaults can be first-, second-, or third-degree assaults.

Third-degree aggravated assault typically applies to bodily harm inflicted against minors and children. However, assaults leading to “substantial bodily harm” (SBH) may also count as third-degree aggravated assault.

Second-degree assault is also known as assault with a weapon or assault with a deadly weapon. The elements are:

  • Dangerous Weapon: Under Minnesota law, pretty much anything other than a hand is a dangerous weapon. Increasingly, Hutchinson criminal lawyers see cases in which the hand is a dangerous weapon. That’s true in some really bad medical malpractice cases.
  • Substantial Bodily Harm: Essentially, SBH means that you put someone in the hospital and keep them there for at least a day.

First-degree aggravated assault occurs when one of two factors are present: great bodily harm (GBH) or aggravated assault against a police officer. Great bodily harm includes any injury conferring the likelihood of death, serious or permanent injury, and/or permanent impairment of a body part.

607.222 is not quite as serious if only one of the aggravating factors (dangerous weapon or SBH) is present. Again, some prosecutors will plead down aggravated assault cases to simple assault.

5. Vehicular Assault in Hutchinson and Minnesota

Prosecutors can press these charges if the defendant was grossly negligent and caused SBH, or if the defendant was negligent while under the influence of alcohol or another substance and caused SBH.

Minnesota Statute 609.2113 divides vehicular assault cases into three categories. These are vehicular assaults causing bodily harm (BH), substantial bodily harm (SBH), and great bodily harm (GBH).

Each category carries different penalties if convicted. BH brings about the least significant consequences, and GBH results in the most severe sentences.

If you’re convicted of vehicular assault causing BH, you may have to spend a year in jail and/or pay $3,000 in fines. Vehicular assaults causing SBH can earn offenders up to three years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. GBH carries the greatest penalty of up to five years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both.

These cases are sometimes difficult to prove. A witness must place the defendant behind the wheel at the time of the crash. By the time emergency responders arrive, the defendant has usually exited the vehicle. But all bets are off if the defendant admitted driving the car. These statements are usually admissible.

This is why it’s critical to find an experienced assault defense attorney in Minnesota to defend your case.

What Are the Defenses a Hutchison Assault Attorney Can Use?

If you’ve received an assault charge, you need the best assault lawyer at your side. Yet, not just any defense attorney will do. You need a defense attorney who specializes in assaults and has the experience to show for it.

Why? An experienced attorney knows the defenses to use in your case, including how to beat a sexual assault charge. That way, you can potentially avoid the negative consequences that come with an assault conviction in Hutchinson, MN.

The False Allegation Defense

Studies show that over 2.5% of child abuse allegations are false. And the majority of these allegations come from parents making false claims about the abuse.

Though rare, false statements about child abuse clearly happen. In fact, child abuse accusations are surprisingly common during divorce and/or custody proceedings. So, many lawyers can use this defense to reduce or even eliminate child abuse charges against their clients.

This defense also applies to the other five assault cases we’ve discussed here. For example, if someone falsely accuses you of simple assault, your Hutchinson defense attorney can show that the allegations are false. If your lawyer can do that, you may be able to keep the case out of court and decide it during settlement.

The Self-Defense Defense in Hutchinson and Minnesota

Self-defense is the best affirmative defense in the book. Affirmative defenses admit that the offender did, in fact, commit the crime. However, a good defense attorney will argue that the assault was committed in self-defense.

For a court to believe the assailant was defending his or herself, the assault must have been necessary to avoid physical harm or injury. Defense of Others is also a viable defense in some assault cases. Ask your Hutchison criminal attorney if either of these defenses are available to you.

The Lack of Evidence Defense in MN

Lack of evidence is yet another common strategy Hutchison defense lawyers use against assault allegations. This defense relies on the fact that Minnesota courts have the burden of proof — not you and your Hutchison assault attorney.

In any assault case, the prosecutor must have evidence to prove your guilt. And this proof must show that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. So, the best assault lawyer will poke holes in the evidence to make the judge or jury doubt your guilt.

This defense is especially useful in cases where your lawyer can’t exactly prove your innocence. Instead, he or she will focus on showing that the opposition’s case is inadequate.

The Consent Defense in Hutchinson and Minnesota

According to Minnesota Statute 609.341, consent is a written or verbal agreement between two parties. The consent defense is arguably the most effective assault defense out there. It alleges that violence between two parties isn’t legal assault if both parties agree or consent to the use of physical force.

The consent defense works against almost any assault allegation. However, children cannot consent to violence until they are of the “age of consent” or, in general, 16 years of age. That means the consent defense isn’t applicable to cases of child abuse.

Work With Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers in Minnesota

All five types of assault are serious crimes in Hutchinson, Minnesota. A conviction could earn you jail or even prison time, and that’s not even to mention the hefty fines you’ll have to pay. However, working with a Hutchison assault attorney can help you avoid these consequences.

Were you recently charged with assault? All five types of assault cases have some valid defenses. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson criminal lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Home and jail visits are available.

Originally published on February 18, 2019 and updated on October 26, 2021.

Post-Assault Jail Release and Hutchinson, MN Law Firms

If the defendant remains in jail pending trial, the defendant is behind the eight ball. Tha’s especially true regarding assault trials. These proceedings have many moving parts. Unless the defendant is free pending trial, some defensive options are probably unavailable.

Neither side should have a significant advantage or disadvantage during criminal matters. So, the Eighth Amendment guarantees reasonable bail in criminal cases.

That being said, McLeod County prosecutors have a number of natural advantages in assault cases. Prosecutors have a small army of investigators and other professionals at their fingertips. Moreover, they have almost unlimited financial resources. Finally, during a trial, the state has the first word and the last word.

Experienced professionals in Hutchinson, MN Law firms have the skills to overcome these advantages and level the playing field. But first things first. Jail release is the number one priority for both defendants and defense attorneys. And, there are a number of ways jail release could happen.

Assault Arrest Procedures in McLeod County

Most area law enforcement agencies have mandatory arrest policies. If officers respond to an assault call, someone immediately goes to jail. The officer’s call as to who started the fight is only a preliminary determination. It is not binding in court. But that fact may not prevent the defendant from being booked and held overnight.

Furthermore, family violence assault cases often involve protective orders. In fact, many departmental policies require officers to give the alleged victim protective order information. An assault arrest is just an accusation. But a protective order, even an ex parte order, is a judicial determination that the defendant assaulted the alleged victim. That determination could thow a very large monkey wrench in a family law proceeding.

Note that, in almost all situations, the officers did not witness the assault. Without personal knowledge, they cannot testify in court. As a result, many assault cases have proof problems. Hutchinson, MN law firms may be able to use these problems to reduce bail, as outlined below.

Hutchinson, MN Law Firms and Immediate Jail Release

Before we get to bail reconsideration, there is the matter of initial jail release. McLeod County offers limited pretrial release. If the defendant is accused of a nonviolent crime, like drug possession, a review board often recommends OR (Own Recognizance) release. The defendant promises to appear in court, and the sheriff opens the cell doors.

Since it is a violent crime, OR release is often not available in assault cases. A Hutchinson, MN law firm’s intervention may change that outcome, but it is not too likely.

So, in assault cases, immediate pretrial release usually means cash bail or a bail bond. The sheriff usually sets a presumptive bail amount based on the severity of the offense and the defendant’s criminal record. Based on that amount, the defendant may opt for:

  • Cash Bail: Misdemeanor assault bail amount is usually less than $1,000. If the defendant posts that amount in cash and fulfills all bond conditions, the defendant gets most of that money back when the case is resolved. The obvious issue here is that, to most people, a few hundred dollars might as well be a few million.
  • Bail Bond: A criminal bail bond is like an insurance policy. A bonding company posts a surety bond and assumes the financial risk. If the defendant’s bail is revoked, the company, and not the individual, is liable for payment. Most bonding companies charge a 10 or 15 percent premium.

If the defendant has already partnered with a Hutchinson, MN law firm, initial release is usually easier to arrange, especially in misdemeanors.

Reconsidering Bond

If the defendant cannot afford bail, or if the judge did not set bail, this issue usually comes up during the arraignment. By law, this hearing must usually occur within about seventy-two hours of arrest.

Part of the arraignment, reading the charges, is often a formality. In fact, many Hutchinson, MN law firms waive reading of the charging documents. But that’s not always the case. Legally, police officers need not inform defendants of the charges against them. Sometimes, the arraignment is the first time the state puts these cards on the table.

Bail reconsideration may be an important element. As mentioned, many assualt cases have proof problems in court. Hutchinson, MN law firms can often leverage this lack of evidence into a lower bail amount. Alternatively, the prosecutor may agree to reduce bail if the defendant submits to additional conditions, like staying away from the alleged victim.

Connect with a Tenacious Attorney

Getting out of jail after an assault arrest is important, but not always easy. For a free consultation at a Hutchinson, MN law firm, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle criminal law matters in McLeod County and nearby jurisdictions.

A Hutchinson, MN Lawyer Breaks Down the Five Types of Assault

As the outside temperature rises, the number of criminal assaults usually rises as well. Researchers say the reason is simple. Hot weather makes people cranky. So, a minor affront suddenly becomes a major offense which justifies, or even demands, a violent response. In some studies, hot weather increased the number of violent assaults by as much as 15 percent.

There are five different types of assault in Minnesota law. All of them have basically the same defenses. Sometimes, police officers did not have probable cause to enter private property and stop an assault. Other times, officers arrive after the alleged assault occurred. The alleged victim’s story is so shaky, perhaps because s/he was intoxicated, that officers make an arrest even though they lack probable cause.

In still other cases, the complaining witness moves beyond the court’s subpoena power or simply loses interest in the case. If these things happen, McLeod County prosecutors have a hard time establishing guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

A Hutchinson, MN lawyer can use these defenses, and others, to obtain a not-guilty verdict at trial, negotiate a favorable pretrial settlement, or have the case thrown out of court.

Fifth Degree Assualt

Simple assault is the most common kind of assault case in McLeod County, probably because it is the easiest kind of assault to prove in court.

In many cases, fifth-degree assault is a lot like common law assault. A credible threat of imminent violence is enough to satisfy the elements of this offense. In other words, prosecutors do not need to prove the defendant injured the alleged victim. IN fact, prosecutors do not even need to prove the defendant touched the alleged victim.

Fifth-degree assault could mean a maximum 90 days in jail. There are some collateral consequences as well. Assault is a crime of moral turpitude. That label could cause immigration, employment, and other problems.

Fourth-Degree Assault

The next step up is fourth-degree assault, which is a gross misdemeanor (maximum one year in jail). Prosecutors could upgrade the charges to a felony, in some cases.

This offense is basically fifth-degree assault with some aggravating circumstances. If the alleged victim is in a protected class, which includes police officers, probation officers, medical officers, and other public servants, the defendant will probably face fourth-degree charges if the alleged victim sustained no visible injury. Additionally, if there is hate crime evidence, fifth-degree assault moves up to fourth-degree assault. In Minnesota, it is illegal to target people because of their religion, sexual orientation, race, or disability. The required animus is sometimes difficult to prove in court.

Third-Degree Assualt

The least serious kind of felony assault could mean up to five years in prison. Prosecutors will file these charges if the defendant did not inflict serious bodily injury and the defendant did not use a deadly weapon. Additionally, Hutchinson, MN lawyers can reduce these charges to a misdemeanor unless the alleged victim:

  • Was a minor who had been physically abused before,
  • Suffered “considerable bodily harm,” or
  • Was under five years old at the time.

There are basically three levels of harm in Minnesota assault cases. Considerable bodily harm typically means putting someone in an ambulance for some superficial wound care. Substantial bodily harm basically means sending someone to the emergency room with a broken arm. Great bodily harm usually means putting someone in the intensive care unit with a ruptured spleen.

Many times, Hutchinson, MN lawyers can get the charges reduced because the defendant did not inflict the requisite amount of harm. For example, the alleged victim might check himself into the emergency room and leave before receiving treatment. In that situation, there may not be enough evidence to support felony charges.

Second-Degree Assualt

Defendants who use deadly weapons during assaults can be charged with second-degree of assault, regardless of the degree of injury. Under Minnesota law, pretty much anything can be a deadly weapon. Some examples include:

  • Guns,
  • Knives,
  • Bowling balls,
  • Frying pans,
  • Baseball bats, and
  • Golf clubs.

Prosecutors must establish that the defendant intended to use the object as a deadly weapon. Defendants who inflict substantial bodily harm face up to ten years in prison; others face up to seven years in prison.

First-Degree Assault

In layman’s terms, first-degree assault is one step short of murder or attempted murder. An alleged victim must suffer great bodily harm. These assaults usually, but do not always, involve deadly weapons. The maximum penalty is twenty years in prison.

Contact an Experienced Attorney

When the weather gets hot, people get hot as well. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson, MN lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in McLeod County and nearby jurisdictions.

How Do Hutchinson Criminal Defense Lawyers Deal with Assault Charges?

There is a link between hot weather and assault cases. Statistically, assault rates usually peak in May and June when the weather is warm. When it gets hot in July and August, assault rates go down, because most people just want to run away.

So, we are getting close to another assault season. These offenses are among the most commonly-charged ones in McLeod County. Even if the defendant did not injure the alleged victim, a jury can still return an assault conviction. That’s also true if the defendant simply threatened the victim.

Fortunately for Hutchinson criminal defense lawyers, these prosecutions also have lots of moving parts. If there is a breakdown in any one area, the whole case usually comes crashing down.

Pretrial Issues

Police officers rarely stumble upon an assault in progress. Generally, they receive verbal information about a disturbance or another such incident. To justify an arrest, these tips must meet stringent legal requirements. McLeod County criminal judges look closely at things like:

  • Source: Most assault tips are anonymous tips, like “I heard two people fighting next door.” Tipsters who refuse to leave their names are unwilling to vouch for the flimsy information they provide. Furthermore, in anonymous tip cases, it’s almost impossible to determine the informer’s track record, if any.
  • Time: Assaults, especially warm-weather assaults, are spontaneous events. If the tip is more than a few minutes old, it’s probably no longer reliable. If officers make an arrest based on a stale tip, the arrest was probably just a coincidence. That coincidence does not make the tip reliable.
  • Specificity: The aforementioned “two people next door” tip is incredibly vague. There’s no way to tell which two people were fighting in which dwelling. This vague tip may not even justify an investigation, let alone an arrest. A tip like “Joe and Flo are at it again” might be sufficient.

Other cases are on the other extreme. Instead of a private conflict, the assault occurs at a large gathering, like a music festival. Officers on duty might see an assault take place in this context. But there are issues here as well.

For example, it’s often hard to separate alleged victims from alleged assailants. In most cases, a verbal fight became physically violent. Officers must determine who made the first credible threat or who threw the first punch. That determination is almost entirely subjective.

Hutchinson Criminal Defense Lawyers and Assault Defenses

Assault cases are among the few criminal law violations which require non-police witnesses. Of all the moving parts mentioned above, this aspect of a Section 609.244 or other similar infraction may be the most important to Hutchinson criminal defense lawyers.

But an attorney must tread carefully here. Some lawyers approach alleged victims to gauge their interest in the case. Alleged victims cannot “drop” charges, but they can tell prosecutors they do not want to pursue the case. However, it’s very easy for people to misinterpret or misrepresent such conversations. These misunderstandings could cause lots of trouble later.

The same thing could happen if a Hutchinson criminal defense lawyer offers to pay medical expenses. The unspoken quid for quo is that if the bills are paid, the witness will not cooperate with prosecutors. That sounds a lot like bribing a witness and obstructing justice, and prosecutors might see it that way as well.

Putting off the case may be one of the best defenses. Delays are frustrating for defendants. But during these delays, many alleged witnesses either lose interest in the case or move beyond the court’s subpoena power. Delay also gives a Hutchinson criminal defense lawyer time to fine-tune a defense. For example, many alleged victims were intoxicated during the incident. Alcohol affects memory and other key brain functions.

Legal defenses may be available as well. Minnesota is not a stand-your-ground state, but it is a castle doctrine state. So, if the incident occurred in the defendant’s home, self-defense is easier to establish in court.

Resolving Assault Cases in McLeod County

If the prosecutor’s case has any weaknesses or there is any applicable defense, it’s usually easier to engineer a favorable plea bargain, like pretrial diversion or deferred disposition. It’s important to keep an assault conviction off your record if at all possible. These offenses, especially domestic violence assault, have significant collateral consequences. And, in many cases, assault convictions cannot be expunged.

Voluntary rehabilitation may be the key. For example, if you have a substance abuse issue, a Hutchinson criminal defense lawyer may send you to Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous. Prosecutors are more willing to offer good deals if they believe the defendant is not a threat to society anymore.

Team Up with Experienced Attorneys

If you were charged with misdemeanor or felony assault, you have options. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson criminal defense lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in McLeod County and nearby jurisdictions.

Call For A Free Consultation (877) 344-1555Free Consultation

Buffalo Lawyers

215 East Highway 55, Suite 201
Buffalo, MN 55313

Toll Free: (877) 344-1555
Phone: (612) 800-8057
Fax: 763-682-3330

Office Details
Map and Directions

Brainerd Lawyers

17025 Commercial Park Rd, Suite 2
Brainerd, MN 56401

Toll Free: (877) 344-1555
Phone: (218) 736-9429
Fax: 763-682-3330

Office Details
Map and Directions

Hutchinson Lawyers

114 Main Street North
Hutchinson, MN 55350

Toll Free: (877) 344-1555
Phone: (320) 289-4761
Fax: 763-682-3330

Office Details
Map and Directions

Minnetonka Lawyers

3911 Ridgedale Dr, Suite 404E
Minnetonka, MN 55305

Toll Free: (877) 344-1555
Phone: (952) 260-9640
Fax: 763-682-3330

Office Details
Map and Directions