If you’ve been charged with assault in Minnesota, you may be facing serious consequences. Some of those consequences could be detrimental to your future, as Minnesota carries many strict penalties. You will want a strong defense against these allegations from one of the best criminal defense attorneys in the state. Ringstrom Law is here to protect you and your rights.


The state of Minnesota defines assault as an act completed with the intent to inflict injury or cause fear in another that injury is imminent. There are various degrees of assault, according to Minnesota laws. If you have been arrested and charged with any of these crimes in Moorhead, Detroit Lakes, or the surrounding area, you want Ringstrom Law, experienced Minnesota criminal law attorneys, on your side to help you navigate the court system.

Assault in Minnesota

The act of assault may be committed both directly or indirectly. It may involve physical contact or no physical contact. In Minnesota, the different levels or degrees are based on the type and amount of harm inflicted as well as considerations for who the alleged victim was.

Assault in the first degree (Minn. Stat. § 609.221), a felony charge, is the most serious degree of assault charge. This degree of assault includes the use of force resulting in serious bodily harm to another. This charge will also be brought when there has been an assault on a state judicial employee, such as a peach officer or a judge. If convicted of first-degree assault, you could be facing up to twenty years in prison and $30,000 in fines.

Assault in the second degree (Minn. Stat. § 609.222), a felony charge, is found when an assault involves a dangerous weapon. If the weapon has inflicted serious bodily harm, a conviction will carry a more significant prison sentence. Conviction of second-degree assault carries a seven-year prison term with a fine up to $14,000. If the use of a weapon caused substantial injuries, the prison term is extended up to ten years with a possible $20,000 fine.

Assault in the third degree (Minn. Stat. § 609.223) is a felony in Minnesota, and may be charged under varying circumstances. For example, an assault resulting in substantial bodily harm falls under this charge. As well, an assault on a minor child, if the same perpetrator has a pattern of abusing the same victim, will be a third-degree assault. Finally, any assault on a child who is less than four years of age carried a third-degree assault charge. If convicted of assault in the third degree, you could face up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Assault in the fourth degree (Minn. Stat. § 609.2231) is charged as either a gross misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the facts of the case. Felony charges are often made if one has an altercation with a law enforcement official, their probation officer, or other public servants. Fourth-degree assault charges are also often applied for discriminatory crimes based on race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, or religion. If convicted of fourth-degree assault, you could face up to one year in jail and $3,000 in fines. Contact Ringstrom Law if you are facing a fourth-degree assault charge as the prosecutor may charge you at a felony level, rather than a gross misdemeanor. You will need strong legal representation on your side to protect your rights.

Assault in the fifth degree (Minn. Stat. § 609.224) is the least severe of the five levels of assault charges. This is a misdemeanor charge that is brought when one engages in conduct to create fear in another of imminent bodily harm or death, or, inflicts or attempts to inflict bodily harm on another. This charge could potentially be bumped up to a gross misdemeanor if the actor has been previously convicted of another qualifying offense within the past ten years against the same victim or within three years against another victim. If convicted of assault in the fifth degree as a gross misdemeanor, sentencing may include up to one year of imprisonment and a $3,000 fine.

Importantly, if the actor has been previously convicted of two or more qualifying offenses within the past ten years against the same victim or within three years against another victim, this charge may be bumped up to a felony level. A felony conviction for fifth-degree assault carries a penalty of up to five years of imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.

In Minnesota, there are more severe punishments given when an assault occurs against certain employees. These employees are protected under Minnesota Statute 609.2231.

Anytime a law enforcement officer or a probation officer is assaulted, it will automatically be a gross misdemeanor, and could rise to the level of a felony, depending on the type of harm, and the person convicted of the crime will face much stricter consequences.

Other assault charges that include demonstrable bodily harm on specific employees while performing their duties will be charged at a gross misdemeanor level. Employees included are

  • Employees with the Department of Natural Resources while engaged in forest fire activities
  • School employees, administrators, and teachers
  • Certain public employees
    • Agricultural inspector
    • Occupational safety and health investigator
    • Child protection worker
    • Public health nurse
    • Animal control officer
  • Member of a community crime prevention group on neighborhood patrol
  • Reserve officer
  • Utility worker
  • Postal service worker
  • Transit operators

Other employees protected under Minnesota law who are assaulted by a defendant who has inflicted demonstrable harm on them when engaged in their duties, will be charged at a felony level. Employee included are

  • Firefighters
  • Emergency medical personnel
  • Prosecuting attorney
  • Judge
  • Correctional facility employee
  • Personnel of a secure treatment facility

Demonstrable bodily harm on a vulnerable adult, when the actor knows or has reason to know that the other person is a vulnerable adult, will be charged out at a gross misdemeanor level.

Not all offenders in Minnesota are convicted of criminal assault if they have been charged with this crime. They do not all face the maximum sentencing or fines if they have an experienced criminal defense attorney working with them in courts. With an experienced legal defense, it is possible to have charges reduced or have penalties reduced, and in some cases, an experienced defense attorney can have charges dismissed. Ringstrom Law understands the laws in Minnesota and is able to help you through this difficult time of facing assault charges.

If an assault is committed against another person because of their national origin, sexual orientation, disability, religion, color, race, or sex, then the crime is more severely punished in Minnesota under statute 609.2231, subdivision 4.

Assaults such as hate crimes are considered gross misdemeanors which are punishable by up to one-year incarceration and a $3,000 fine. If another hate crime assault is committed within five years of the first, the charge becomes a felony, which is punishable by up to one year plus one day of incarceration and a $3,000 fine.

If an inmate serving a prison sentence is convicted of assault, their punishment will not begin for the assault conviction until the inmate has completed the initial sentence. This sentencing occurs even if the assault would be considered a misdemeanor including a jail sentence.

Not all offenders in Minnesota are convicted of criminal assault if they have been charged with this crime. They do not all face the maximum sentencing or fines if they have an experienced criminal defense attorney working with them in court. With an experienced legal defense, it is possible to have charges or penalties reduced, and in some cases, an experienced defense attorney can have charges dismissed. Ringstrom Law understands the laws in Minnesota and is able to help you through this difficult time of facing assault charges.

Assault Conviction and the Consequences

When you are facing assault charges, there are non-criminal consequences to deal with. As an alleged offender, you will want an attorney working with you who is familiar with Minnesota laws. If you should be convicted of these charges, you are facing significant consequences that will impact your entire future.

At Ringstrom Law, we understand what an assault conviction means for you and the adverse effects it will play in your life, along with the substantial fines you can face. A conviction of these charges could result in:

With an assault conviction on your criminal record, it will show up in any background check done by possible employers. You will be required to disclose the conviction on any new job application. If an employer discovers you have an assault conviction, they are legally able to terminate your employment.

There can be an enormous amount of stress on someone accused of assault, as well as on their friends and family. Assault charges often create a certain amount of embarrassment, as well as the issues involved with appearing in court and not understanding the legal system to know what to expect. Not knowing how much fines may amount to or how much jail or prison time can be imposed are major stress factors in assault cases. Stress levels are known to escalate during these proceedings, as the level of severity in the cases are often unknown until the courts have determined your sentencing. Ringstrom Law will work with you to keep you informed throughout the process and help to reduce these unknown factors as much as possible.

If convicted of an assault, a judge is able to require you to complete an anger management assessment. If it is discovered in your case that there were drugs or alcohol involved, they could also require you to undergo a chemical assessment. The outcome of the assessments will determine whether or not you will be required to complete rehabilitation or counseling. These counseling and rehabilitation sessions can not only be time-consuming, but they can also become expensive.

If a person is convicted of third-degree assault, they can be placed on probation. Probation can be non-intensive or extremely intensive, to the point of restricting your travel and other daily activities. If you are already on probation and then charged with assault, it could cause a probation violation.

If you have been accused of assault, there are most likely a lot of thoughts going through your mind as you worry about the possible outcomes these charges can cause you. Ringstrom Law is ready to help you through this challenging legal battle and will use their expertise with the law and the court system to try to reduce or dismiss the charges against you. They will work with you throughout the process and keep you informed on all possible outcomes.

Defending Assault Charges

In the state of Minnesota, you can be charged with assault even if you do not physically injure someone. Assault charges can apply if you act in a specific way and make someone fear you will harm them. Oftentimes, a mutual altercation or an act of self-defense can lead to an assault charge. These charges can be the result of a heated altercation, exaggerated accusations, or even misunderstood arguments.

There are severe penalties and fines attached to some of these convictions, so you will want strong legal counsel when facing any degree of assault, as there are defense strategies to implement to fight assault allegations.

An affirmative defense acknowledges that you did, in fact, commit the actions you are being charged with, but that those actions were not a criminal act. Consent and self-defense are two reasons to commit certain actions.

  • Consent
    If both parties were consenting to an action, then that action cannot be considered illegal or a crime. An example of this situation would be if two people were involved in a boxing match, and one boxer sustains unexpected injuries and attempts to call it an assault. Because they both agreed to have a boxing match, neither of them can accuse the other of assault just because of unexpected injuries. But consent is not an easy defense to use, and your attorney at Ringstrom Law will discuss your options and necessary evidence needed to use this form of defense strategy.
  • Self-Defense
    One of the common defense strategies used in assault cases is self-defense. This defense will show you had to defend yourself against your accuser’s threatening behavior and that the alleged victim is, in fact, the aggressor. You will have to show their behavior is what resulted in your actions, and those actions were only to defend yourself against harm. The defense strategy can also be applicable if you were defending property or another person. If your actions were the result of a threat against another person and you had to protect them, you cannot be convicted of assault. You also cannot be convicted of assault if the other party threatened your property, and you acted out in defense. The property defense is a typical one used when someone breaks into or onto your property, and you have to defend yourself.

The disputative defense is when your attorney can question the alleged behavior you are being accused of using.

  • Mistaken Identity
    Oftentimes, a person’s memory is unreliable. A person involved in an assault will be emotional, and their memory may become embellished or biased. Sometimes the details of the assault given by the alleged victim are not actual facts and only what they believe to have happened. Because of these behaviors, it is sometimes mistaken identity made by a victim of an assault. It happens that a person can “look like” their assailant due to race, or the fact that you were in the area when the assault took place. If your face looks familiar because the victim saw you when the attack took place, they may become confused and involve you in the assault. Mistaken identity can be disputed by your attorney when evidence shows you were not the assailant. Ringstrom Law will help you to develop this defense and work with you to put together the necessary evidence to clear your name.
  • Accuser’s Credibility
    With a defense strategy of challenging the accuser’s credibility, it means the victim, or a witness, is lying, and their story about your actions is not the truth. When your attorney at Ringstrom Law uses this defense, they are confident they will be able to attack inconsistencies in statements given to the authorities and make the prosecution’s case against you weaker. This strategy raises doubts, and along with contrary evidence or even a rebuttal witness, another side of the original story can be told. A challenge of an accuser’s credibility can lead to a case being dismissed. When using the credibility defense strategy, your attorney may look into your accuser’s background or the character of other witnesses testifying against you. Looking into these backgrounds is an attempt to argue their trustworthiness and whether or not their story about your actions can be trusted.
  • Alibi
    Just as with the “wrong person” or “mistaken identity” defense, the alibi defense can show evidence that you were not anywhere near the victim at the time of the assault. For example, your attorney from Ringstrom Law can show you were at the movies where witnesses remember seeing you, or you were at work, or even perhaps a party where guests can vouch for your attendance. Where you were is usually not important; the fact that matters is being able to support your claim of not being near the victim when the assault occurred. You will need to provide evidence like movie ticket stubs, fellow employees who can vouch for your presence, or any other reliable source of evidence.

When you need a defense strategy against assault charges in Minnesota, speed is essential in handling your case. You will want to contact Ringstrom Law as soon as possible. You will want to allow them time to gather the necessary evidence and information for your defense and give you the best outcome possible. Having them working for you right away will also reduce the chance of you giving statements that could harm your case.

What You Should Do If Charged with Assault

Once you have been arrested and charged with assault, your first step should be to call your attorney at Ringstrom Law. This is your legal right, and having your attorney present before making any statements could determine the outcome of your case. There are other steps to take after your arrest:

Most people have heard about the Miranda warning, which states that you have the right to remain silent after an arrest. You are not required to make any form of statement about the incident leading to your arrest until your attorney from Ringstrom Law is present. You do not want to make claims of innocence or try to explain any of your actions whatsoever without an attorney by your side.

In assault charges, it is common for the accusations to be proven exaggerated or false as the events often occur during the “heat of the moment” situations. If you have been accused of assault, it is important that you do not attempt to make contact with your accuser. Communication with your alleged victim could result in making your charges more severe.

The police might use interrogation tactics that have been created to trick you into talking about your case or actions. They may use promises of leniency if you admit your guilt, or they may even try to make you believe they have witnesses to the assault that do not really exist.

Remember, the police do not have the legal power to lower your sentence, and whatever evidence exists is going to be presented in court. You don’t want to fall for these interrogation tactics, but rather you should remain quiet until your attorney from Ringstrom Law is by your side.

If the police should arrive at your place of business or your home to make the arrest, you want to step outside and close the door behind you. Once the door is closed, they will have to ask your permission to search your area. If you allow them inside, they will attempt to gather evidence against you. If they do not have a warrant to search, you want to refuse the search until they obtain the warrant. Once a warrant has been issued, you will have no legal standing to refuse the search; you will then have to allow them into your home or business.

Find Help When Charged with Assault Near Me

If you are facing charges for assault in Minnesota, you need an experienced attorney who understands the court system and assault laws. Contact Ringstrom Law at 218-284-0484 to ensure your future and your rights are protected. These are serious charges with life-altering consequences, and you want qualified legal representation to receive the best possible outcome with your case. Call today and speak with a criminal defense attorney in Moorhead who is ready to stand behind you and get you the best possible outcome against these charges.

MN criminal defense attorneys Bruce Ringstrom Jr. & Bruce Ringstrom Sr.

Bruce Ringstrom Jr. & Bruce Ringstrom Sr.

Criminal Defense Attorneys in MN & ND

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  • Minnesota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • MSBA: Minnesota State Bar Association
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • State Bar Association of North Dakota
  • Minnesota State Bar Association Criminal Law

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