What is the difference between assault and battery?

The main difference between assault and battery is that assault can be the threat of physical harm, without someone actually being hit or harmed physically.  Battery means someone was physically injured.  In Minnesota, there are four degrees of assault.

  • A First Degree Assault (felony) is the most serious level of assault and carries a maximum punishment of 20 years imprisonment and a $30,000 fine.  Typically, to be charged with a First Degree Assault, you must cause “great bodily harm” to another individual.
  • A Second Degree Assault (felony) is the next least serious assault offense and carries a maximum punishment of seven years imprisonment and a fine of $14,000 if the assault has occurred by use of a dangerous weapon.  This punishment increases if substantial bodily harm resulted through the assault with a dangerous weapon.
  • The next level down of assault is Assault in the Third Degree (felony).  This assault results in “substantial bodily harm” to the victim and is punishable by imprisonment maximum of 5 years and a $10,000 fine.
  • Assault in the Fourth Degree (felony).  This is typically an assault on a peace officer and carries a maximum punishment of 3 years and a fine of $6,000.
  • The lowest level of assault is a Fifth Degree Assault (misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, felony).  This assault requires an act committed with the intent to cause fear of bodily harm or death to another, or actual bodily harm caused to another.  This type of assault is enhanceable which means if you have two or more Fifth Degree Assault violations, the level of each offense becomes more severe.

If you have been charged with assault and/or battery it is wise to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney to help assist you.

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