Third Degree Assault 609.223 in MN

So, you’re being charged with a 3rd degree assault.  But what does that really mean?

Minnesota Statute 609.223 says:

1) Whoever assaults another,

-either by committing an act with the intent to cause fear of immediate bodily harm or death in someone else, or

-who intentionally inflicts or attempts to inflict bodily harm upon another, AND

2) who inflicts substantial bodily harm

 is guilty of third degree assault.  Basically, the prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you assaulted someone and caused “substantial bodily harm.”

 

Here’s what that means in detail:

First, the prosecutor needs to prove that there was an assault.  There are two ways someone can assault another person.  The first is by causing someone to fear bodily harm or death.  This means that you could be facing assault charges even without ever touching someone if you cause them to be in fear of getting hurt.  The second way to show assault is when someone intentionally harms or tries to harm someone else.  That’s the more common way that we think about assault.  It’s a punch, swinging a bat at another person, or trying to hit someone.

Second, what is substantial bodily harm?  The law categorizes certain crimes by different degrees of seriousness.  To rise to the level of 3rd degree assault the prosecutor needs to prove that you did something that caused substantial bodily harm.  However, no one has a list of the injuries that are automatically considered substantial bodily harm, and those that aren’t.  Here are some examples of injuries that could be considered substantial bodily harm:

  • Broken nose
  • Broken jaw
  • Fractured ribs
  • Serious cuts to the head
  • Severe concussion
  • A combination of injuries together, like a black eye, bloody nose, bruises, and scratches

Here are some of the consequences of being found guilty of third degree assault:

You will have a FELONY on your record!

PENALTY:  If you are convicted of third degree assault the Judge can sentence you to up to 5 years in prison, fine you up to $10,000 or do both.  Also, the Judge can order that you pay restitution, which means that you might have to pay the victim for their injuries, cover their medical bills, or pay for property damage.  This adds up fast.

COLLATERAL CONSEQUENCES: Having a felony third degree assault conviction on your record can effect everything from employmenthousing, your gun rights, and even some parenting rights.  With a third degree assault conviction on your record you are no longer allowed to own, or even possess a firearm, and that includes a hunting weapon.  Many employers will not hire you, schools or athletic associations will not let you coach or volunteer, and many landlords will not let you rent from them.

There are a number of  defenses to 3rd Degree Assault:

First, to prove that you committed a 3rd degree assault the prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to assault someone.  They can’t prove that you’re guilty of 3rd degree assault without showing that you meant to do something that caused the injury.  A good criminal defense attorney recognizes when the State will not be able to prove intent.  He or she knows how to show the jury both sides of the story and to make it clear to a jury when intent is lacking.

Next, there are various additional defenses that a good criminal defense attorney is familiar with, such as:

  • Self-defense
  • Defense of Another
  • Necessity
  • Intoxication
  • Duress
  • Alibi

A good criminal defense attorney will know if any of these defenses apply in your case, and will know how to present them at trial.

So, the next question, is what can you do when you’re charged with 3rd degree assault?  You can hire a good criminal defense attorney to protect you, and here are just some of the reasons you should hire a skilled criminal defense attorney:

1)      An experienced criminal defense attorney can take your case to trial andimprove your chances of being found NOT GUILTY.

2)      A skilled criminal defense attorney knows how to defend you at trial and knows the potential defenses you might have.

3)      A good criminal defense attorney knows what to look for in the medical reports to see whether or not there was substantial bodily harm in your case, and how to best fight the medical evidence.

4)      A good criminal defense attorney can work with the prosecutor to get the charges lowered or dismissed.

Sometimes in assault causes, the police decide who the victim is right away without carefully considering both sides of a story.  This can mean that they only collect evidence that favors one side of the case.  For example, they’ll take pictures of the person that they decide is the victim, but they don’t take pictures of you and you were injured too.  This can happen if they decide right away that you were the aggressor.  A good criminal defense attorney conducts his or her own investigation and knows how to make it clear for a jury when the police are biased from the start of the case, or when they did not do a good job of collecting evidence that shows the whole story.

The best way to protect yourself, and your best chance at getting the charges dismissed or being found NOT GUILTY at trial is by hiring a good criminal defense attorney who has experience defending assault cases.  Call RYAN PACYGA CRIMINAL DEFENSE at 612-339-5844 to speak with Mr. Pacyga about defending your case.  If you’re trying to decide who to hire, you don’t need to just take our word for it.  Check out our youtube channel to see videos of jurors interviewed about Mr. Pacyga’s skills as a criminal defense attorney after they found Mr. Pacyga’s clientNOT GUILTY of 3rd degree assault.

Ryan Pacyga defends people accused of crimes in State and Federal courts around the country.  He is based in Minneapolis, MN.

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