Assault in the Second Degree in Missouri

Talk to a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Enter Your Zip Code to Connect with a Lawyer Serving Your Area

Gavel and Scales

Under Missouri law, the most serious assault crimes are assault in the first degree and assault in the second degree. Both of these crimes are felonies. For more information on first degree assault, see Assault in the First Degree in Missouri.

For additional information on assault in the third degree, see Misdemeanor Assault in Missouri.

Assault in the Second Degree

A person is guilty of assault in the second degree in Missouri if he:

  • attempts to kill another person or causes or attempts to cause serious physical injury to another person while “under the influence of sudden passion arising out of adequate cause”
  • attempts to cause or knowingly causes physical injury to another with a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument
  • recklessly causes serious physical injury to another
  • while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, operates a motor vehicle with criminal negligence and causes physical injury to another
  • recklessly causes physical injury to another by discharge of a firearm, or
  • causes physical injury to an emergency vehicle operator by operating a motor vehicle in a criminally negligent manner and in violation of traffics laws relating to emergency vehicles.

Assault in the second degree is Class C felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison, a fine up to $5,000, or both.

(Mo. Ann. Stat. §§ 565.060, 558.011, 560.011.)

Under the Influence of Sudden Passion

If a person attempts to kill someone or intentionally causes or attempts to cause serious injury to another person, he can be guilty of second degree assault instead of first degree assault (a more serious crime involving intent to kill or cause serious physical injury) if he was acting “under the influence of sudden passion arising out of adequate cause.” The defendant must prove that he was in such a heightened emotional state -- provoked by someone else -- that his actions were being directed by passion rather than reason. He must also show that this was a sudden, unexpected event that caused terror, rage, or some other emotion that was out of control. For example, if the defendant was suddenly confronted by another person who does something extreme that frightens or outrages the defendant and he acts from a state of overwhelming emotion, this could constitute “acting out of sudden passion.”

(Mo. Ann. Stat. §§ 565.060, 565.002.)

What Constitutes “Recklessness?”

A reckless act is one that is committed, not necessarily with intent to harm another, but without regard for the outcome. Pushing someone out of the way in a crowd near a tall ledge so that you can get through, without intending to injure the person, could be an assault in the second degree if the person falls and is seriously injured. Shooting a gun into a crowd and causing minor injury to a person also could be assault in the second degree because of the reckless behavior with a firearm.

(Mo. Ann. Stat. § 562.016.)

What Constitutes Acting “Knowingly?”

A person acts knowingly when he is aware that his conduct is practically certain to bring about a particular result. For example, aiming a cocked and loaded handgun at another person, and then pulling the trigger, is practically certain to cause injury to the other person.

(Mo. Ann. Stat. § 562.016.)

What Constitutes “Criminal Negligence?”

A criminally negligent act is one that is not intentional but that occurs because the actor fails to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk. If a driver is intoxicated and drives the wrong way on a street or fails to stop and strikes another vehicle, he is considered under Missouri law to be operating the vehicle in a criminally negligent manner.

(Mo. Ann. Stat. § 562.016.)

Physical Injury and Serious Physical Injury

Serious physical injury means physical injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes serious disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any part of the body. Common examples of serious physical injury include gunshot wounds, knife wounds, and beatings that result in cracked ribs or punctured lungs.

(Mo. Ann. Stat. § 565.002.)

Physical injury refers to minor injury to the human body, including scrapes and bruises.

Deadly Weapon or Dangerous Instrument

A deadly weapon is any firearm (loaded or unloaded), or any weapon from which a shot, readily capable of producing death or serious physical injury, may be discharged. A switchblade knife, dagger, billy, blackjack or metal knuckles are also considered deadly weapons.

A dangerous instrument is any instrument, article or substance, which, under the circumstances in which it is used, is readily capable of causing death or other serious physical injury. A rope used to strangle someone, a metal pipe used to strike someone, and a vehicle used to intentionally strike a pedestrian are all dangerous instruments because of the manner in which they were used.

(Mo. Ann. Stat. § 556.061.)

Assault in the Second Degree Against Certain Victims

A person is guilty of the crime of assault in the second degree against a law enforcement officer, corrections officer, emergency personnel (such as a firefighter, emergency room personnel or emergency medical technician), highway worker, or probation and parole officer if he:

  • knowingly causes or attempts to cause physical injury to the victim by means of a deadly weapon or other dangerous instrument
  • recklessly causes serious physical injury to the victim
  • while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, operates a motor vehicle with criminal negligence and causes physical injury to the victim
  • acts with criminal negligence and causes physical injury to the victim by means of a deadly weapon
  • purposely threatens the victim with immediate serious physical injury, or
  • acting with criminal negligence, creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to the victim.

If a person knowingly causes or attempts to cause physical injury by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument to any of these victims, he also will be guilty of assault in the second degree.

This assault crime is a Class B or C felony depending on the action that constitutes the assault. Under certain circumstances, prison is a mandatory sentence for this crime. A Class B felony is punishable by five to 15 years in prison, and a Class C felony is punishable by up to seven years in prison, a fine up to $5,000, or both.

(Mo. Ann. Stat. §§ 565.082, 558.011, 560.011.)

Domestic Assault in the Second Degree

Assault in the second degree committed against a spouse, a family member, someone with whom the offender resides or previously resided, or someone with whom the offender is involved in a romantic or intimate dating relationship is a domestic assault in the second degree. This crime is defined differently than ordinary assault in the second degree and the penalties can be higher under certain circumstances. For information about the crime of domestic violence in Missouri, see Missouri Domestic Violence Laws.

Assault While on School Property

A person commits assault on school property if, while located on school property (including a school vehicle), he:

  • knowingly causes physical to another person
  • acting with criminal negligence, causes physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon, or
  • recklessly engages in conduct that creates a grave risk of death of serious physical injury to another person.

Assault on school property is a class D felony, punishable by up to four years in prison, a fine up to $3,000, or both.

(Mo. Ann. Stat. §§ 565.075, 558.011, 560.011.)

Restitution

A person convicted of assault in the second degree in Missouri can be required to pay restitution, which involves reimbursing the victim for any expenses resulting from the crime, such as the cost of medical treatment or counseling or repair or replacement of damaged property.

(Mo. Ann. Stat. § 559.100.)

Suspended Sentence and Probation

A court in Missouri can suspend a sentence in either of two ways:

  • suspend imposition of sentence with or without probation, or
  • impose a jail sentence and then suspend the jail sentence and place the defendant on probation.

(Mo. Ann. Stat. § 557.011.)

SIS probation

If the court suspends imposition of sentence, the court, in essence, postpones sentencing for a period of time. The court can dismiss the charges at the end of the period if the defendant complies with any conditions set by the court such as probation, having no new arrests or criminal offenses, participating in psychological treatment, or doing volunteer work in the community. If the defendant is put on probation in these circumstances, it is known in Missouri as SIS probation (suspended imposition of sentence). This is an unlikely outcome in a case involving a felony as serious as assault in the second degree. However, SIS probation may be possible if there is no mandatory minimum prison sentence, if the defendant has no criminal history, and the case involves truly extenuating circumstances.

(Mo. Ann. Stat. § 557.011.)

SES probation

If the court suspends execution of sentence, the court imposes a jail sentence but allows the defendant to serve all or a portion of the time on probation rather than in jail. This type of probation is known as SES probation in Missouri (suspended execution of sentence).

(Mo. Ann. Stat. § 557.011.)

The Value of Good Representation

A conviction for assault in the second degree becomes part of your permanent criminal record. A conviction for a violent felony can hurt you when you are looking for a job or applying to rent a house or apartment. An experienced attorney can determine whether you have any grounds for dismissal of the charges against you, explore plea options, and represent you at trial. Only someone familiar with the local criminal court system and cases like yours will know what plea options are available, how good your chances are for a favorable outcome, and what you can expect at sentencing. A knowledgeable attorney will assist you in making decisions about your case and protect your rights.

Talk to a Lawyer

Want to talk to an attorney? Start here.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Connect with local attorneys
RELATED ADS
LA-NOLO3:CM1.2.1.1.20150623.32264+