In Minnesota, a person commits the crime of simple assault, a misdemeanor, by intentionally inflicting or attempting to inflict injury; or by any act intended to cause fear of imminent injury or death.
(Minn. Stat. § 609.02.)
For example, striking someone is assault, as is trying to strike someone. But injury and physical contact are not required. Lunging at someone is also assault if the act is intended to inflict fear of bodily harm.
Assaults that cause serious or substantial injury, some assaults against legally protected employees and children, and assaults committed with weapons are felonies. For more information on these crimes, see Aggravated Assault Laws in Minnesota and Assault With a Dangerous Weapon in Minnesota.
Assaults Against Protected Employees
Under Minnesota’s laws, assaults against certain employees are punished more severely than other assaults. Any assault against a law enforcement officer is punished more severely.
Demonstrable bodily harm
Assaults that inflict demonstrable bodily harm (such as bruises or teeth marks) on the following employees while the employee is engaged in the performance of job duties are also punished more severely:
- Department of Natural Resources employees engaged in forest fire activities, and
- teachers, school administrators, and school employees.
(Minn. Stat. § 609.232.)
Demonstrable bodily harm and knowledge of the victim’s employment
In Minnesota, assault is also punished more severely if the defendant inflicts demonstrable harm on employees who are engaged in the performance of job duties, and the defendant knows or has reason to know that the victim is a protected employee and is engaged in the performance of job duties. These protected employees include:
- agricultural inspectors
- occupational safety and health investigators
- child protection workers
- public health nurses
- animal control officers
- probation or parole officers
- members of a community crime prevention group engaged in neighborhood patrol
- reserve law enforcement officers
- postal services employees
- utility services employees, and
- vulnerable adults.
Vulnerable adults are those are receiving inpatient treatment or home care services, those receiving outpatient treatment (except treatment for chemical dependency, mental illness, or sexual dangerousness), or people who are mentally or physically disabled and unable to care for themselves and protect themselves from mistreatment.
(Minn. Stat. §§ 609.02, 609.2231, 609.232.)
Assaults by Inmates
There are special sentencing rules (explained below) that apply to assaults committed by inmates in state prison. (Minn. Stat. § 609.2232.)
If a person commits an assault that is motivated by the victim’s (or another person’s) actual or perceived color, race, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or disability, then the assault is punished more severely in Minnesota.
(Minn. Stat. § 609.2231.)
In Minnesota, simple assault is punished more severely when the defendant has previously been convicted of a qualified domestic violence-related offense against:
- the victim in the past ten years, or
- anyone in the past three years.
Qualified domestic violence-related offenses include murder, assault, domestic assault, criminal sexual conduct, threats, malicious punishment of a child, violating a restraining order, stalking, or interfering with an emergency call.
(Minn. Stat. §§ 518B.01, 609.02, 609.224.)
For more information, see Domestic Violence in Minnesota.
Assaults against protected employees, hate crimes, and assaults where the defendant has previously been convicted of domestic violence are gross misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $3,000.
Other simple assaults are punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
(Minn. Stat. §§ 609.03, 609.0341, 609.2231, 609.224.)
Assaults by inmates. If an inmate in a state correctional facility is convicted of assault, the sentence must be served after the inmate has finished the original sentence, and the inmate must serve the sentence in state prison (even if the assault would otherwise be a misdemeanor, punishable only by time in jail.)
(Minn. Stat. § 609.2232.)
Getting Legal Advice and Representation
A conviction for simple assault can result in time in jail, a fine, and a criminal record. If you are charged with simple assault, you should contact a Minnesota criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you navigate the criminal justice system and obtain the best outcome in your case.