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Understanding first-degree assault in Minnesota

There is no more serious form of assault under Minnesota law than assault in the first degree. Taking an assault to a level higher than second degree, which was covered in a prior post, could more than double the punishment.

The Office of the Revisor of Statutes outlines stiff consequences for first-degree assault convictions. Those found guilty of committing this crime face either or both of up to a $30,000 financial penalty and up to 20 years behind bars.

Under Minnesota statutes, using deadly force to assault the following representatives of the rule of law also constitutes assault in the first degree:

  •          Employees in the corrections department
  •          Judges
  •          Prosecutors
  •          Officers of the peace

Merely attempting to use deadly force is enough to be charged under the statutes. A defendant convicted of such an assault faces a minimum sentence of ten years without parole or probation.

Causing another person great bodily harm is the other way to end up facing a first-degree assault charge. Minnesota Public Radio points out that great bodily harm is defined in Minnesota as injury characterized by any combination of the following:

  •          Impairment or denial of the use of some part of the body
  •          Disfigurement of a person in a permanent and significant way
  •          High likelihood of a fatal outcome

It is important to note that the injury must meet at least one of the aforementioned criteria to lead to a first-degree assault allegation, assuming the victim is not a justice professional. In one case, a man who shot his girlfriend succeeded in lessoning his first-degree assault conviction to second degree. Due to the fact that the bullet did not hit a vital organ, and the victim did not provide testimony in the case, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled he could not be convicted on the higher charge. 

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