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Understanding third-degree assault in Minnesota

Allegations of assault in the third degree are taken very seriously in the state of Minnesota. Third-degree assault is one step higher than assault in the fourth degree, which was reviewed in a previous post.

Reflecting the more severe nature of assaults that rise to the level of third degree, the Office of the Revisor of Statutes states that penalties for third-degree assault convictions may include either or both of a fine of up to $10,000 or a prison sentence of up to five years. The criminal charge is a felony and can be brought against a defendant under the following circumstances:

  •          The alleged victim suffers more than one bruise to his or her body, or sustains bodily harm to the neck, eyes, or head, and is younger than four years of age.
  •          There is a demonstrated pattern of child abuse and the assaulted party is a minor.
  •          Substantial bodily harm occurs because of the alleged assault.

The Office of the Revisor of Statutes defines two of the key findings for bringing charges of third-degree assault, namely bodily harm or substantial bodily harm. Substantial bodily harm is significant, as the term implies, and may include the following:

  •          Fractures
  •          Non-permanent, deleterious impact on organ function
  •          Bodily member suffering temporary impairment or loss of function
  •          Significant, temporary disfigurement

Bodily harm that is not considered “substantial” is more general in nature. It relates to physical impairment, illness, injury, or pain. Regardless of which form of bodily harm is alleged, third-degree assault charges are serious and can lead to significant long-term consequences.

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