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Understanding second-degree assault in Minnesota

Assaulting another person in Minnesota is a significant crime that is always taken seriously, regardless of degree. That said, second-degree assault is about as serious as it gets. Though it is only one degree worse than assault in the third degree, which was detailed in a previous post, penalties are decidedly more severe.

Data from a 2014 report by the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission shows a general improvement since 2001 in the percentage of second-degree assault crimes, as compared to the total number of assaults in the felony category. In 2012, 19.2 percent of assaults were second degree, which was considerably lower than the 35.6 percent in 2001. However, there was a 22.5 percent increase in convictions for assault in the second degree in 2012 over the year prior. As a result, second-degree was the form of assault that grew the most in that year.

According to the Office of the Revisor of Statutes, the primary factor that makes an assault a second-degree offense is the involvement of a dangerous weapon. A conviction could carry either or both of up to a $20,000 fine and confinement of up to 10 years. This is the case if the assault causes injury that rises to the threshold of substantial bodily harm.

If a dangerous weapon is used in the commission of an assault, but substantial bodily harm does not occur, the maximum sentence is less draconian, but not by much. In such a case, a court may impose either or both of a $14,000 fine and a prison term of up to seven years.

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