Minnesota has various laws that address assault and domestic assault offenses. These cases are often difficult to prove because they regularly rest on a “he-said/she-said” routine. Despite the fact that an assault case may seem rather innocuous, the consequences for conviction of either an assault or a domestic assault are quite substantial.


1. Assault:

In the State of Minnesota, there are 5 levels/degrees of assault charges that one can face, each carrying with it vastly different penalties if convicted.

a. First Degree: This offense is a felony. A person can be charged with this offense of they cause Great Bodily Harm, or uses deadly force against a peace officer or correctional employee. The maximum punishment is 20 years in prison and a $30,000 fine.

b. Second Degree: This is a felony offense. A person can be charged with this offense if they use a dangerous weapon during the commission of an assault. The maximum punishment is 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine;

c. Third Degree: This is a felony offense. A person can be charged with this offense if they cause Substantial Bodily Harm, or due to a pattern of child abuse, or cause bodily harm to a child under the age of 4. The maximum punishment is 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

d. Fourth Degree: This can be either a felony or gross misdemeanor offense. It mostly encompasses assaults on peace officers. The level of crime depends on the level of harm. The maximum punishment is 3 years in prison and a $6,000 fine.

e. Fifth Degree: Under most circumstances, this is a misdemeanor offense. It can be a gross misdemeanor if the offender had been convicted of assaulting the same victim within the past 10 years, or a different victim within the past 3 years. The maximum punishment for a misdemeanor is 90 days in jail and a $1000 fine. The maximum punishment for a gross misdemeanor is 1 year in jail and a $3,000 fine.


2. Domestic Assault:

Domestic assault is virtually identical to assault, the primary difference being the relationship with the alleged victim. If the alleged victim is a “family or household member”, offense will be considered a Domestic.

In addition, a first offense is a misdemeanor, a second offense within 10 years is a gross misdemeanor, a third offense is 10 years is a felony, and any offense where it is alleged that the victim was strangled is a felony.

The following are considered a “family or household member” in the State of Minnesota:

a. Spouse/former spouse;
b. Parents/children;
c. Persons related by blood;
d. Persons living together or have lived together;
e. Persons having a child in common;
f. Persons involved in a significant relationship

External resources:

The attorney’s at Nelson Law have over 30 years combined experience dealing with the complexities of Minnesota’s assault laws. Contact us with any questions you may have, or for a free initial consultation


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St. Paul, MN 55107
Phone: (651) 289-5577

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