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Assault charges are very broad and can encompass a large variety of actions. In fact, assault charges are some of the most common criminal charges, and it doesn’t take much to have them brought against you. For example, defending yourself in a bar fight can lead to an assault charge. While most assault charges of this nature are not serious, there are some cases of assault that can result in many years in prison and expensive fines. It all depends on the circumstances surrounding the act. A criminal defense attorney specializing in assault will help you understand your charges and what they mean for possible sentencing.
Like most criminal charges, assault is broken up into varying degrees of severity.
Assault classified as fifth degree is a misdemeanor and generally used when none of the other degrees are applicable. For example, a bar fight might be categorized as a fifth degree assault. However, you may also face this charge even if you just “attempted” to assault someone. Penalties for fifth degree assault include up to 90 days in jail and various fines.
If a deadly weapon was involved during the act of assault, you may face aggravated assault charges. Furthermore, you can also face a battery charge if the act of assault was followed through. For example, if you threatened violence against someone and subsequently committed the act you threatened, you’ll likely have two separate charges: assault and battery. If a weapon was involved in the act, your charges will be aggravated assault and aggravated battery. Regardless of the charges being brought against you, there are many defenses for assault and battery charges. Your attorney should find the defense with the most potential to reduce or dismiss your sentence.
Common defenses include self-defense, affirmative defense, mistaken identity, and no credible threat. The first two defenses indicate that either the assault was mutual (like a bar fight), you were defending yourself, or you were defending another person or property. Mistaken identity isn’t always used, but in cases where there was a brawl of multiple people, it may be.
No credible threat is actually a very common defense. To obtain an assault conviction, the victim must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you actually meant to harm him or her and that he or she was threatened by you. Many times, the assault allegation was actually a form of revenge or used to leverage a court finding for custody or some other matter and wasn’t the result of an actual assault. In that case, your charges will most likely be dismissed.
The Knutson+Casey Law Firm is based in Mankato, Minnesota, and works with clients in and around the Mankato area. We have many years of experience in criminal defense – especially in assault cases. We’ll work diligently to gather all the facts and get your charges reduced or even dropped. Contact us today for a free consultation.