Assault and battery is a term that is used quite regularly, but you may not actually know what it means. Assault refers to any attempt or threat to injure someone, while battery refers to the actual act of harming or offending another person. While they are typically referred to as one act together, the punishable crime is labeled under assault. There are several different kinds of assault charges in Minnesota, some of which are more severe if the defendant has been previously convicted of domestic violence. This article will explore the particularities of assault and battery charges in Minnesota and their criminal consequences.
What Is Assault?
Assault is defined as any attempt to injure or harm someone else, and in some cases, also includes threats or intention of harming another person. Attempted battery is another way to define assault, meaning no physical contact has been made, only threats. However, these threats may lead someone to file an order for protection so that the respondent has to stay away from them.
With assault charges, a conviction still requires a criminal “act.” There is a wide variety of acts that could fall under the umbrella of assault, anything that is an overt or direct action that would put someone in fear of their safety. Assault crimes also need to have “general intent,” meaning the offender intended the actions that make up the assault, and they weren’t by accident. As mentioned, there are a wide variety of acts that can be considered assault. Abusive relationships can often manifest in assault crimes, including sexual assault. Workplace violence can also lead to assault. Here are a few more examples of acts that are considered assault and could be punishable:
- Attempting to spit on the victim.
- Brandishing a weapon in a manner that suggests they will hit the victim.
- Pointing a gun at the victim, whether it is loaded or not.
- Miming the act of hitting, punching, or kicking the victim.
- Threatening to hit or kill someone.
- Swinging and missing, but intended to hit or punch the victim.
- Using language that could threaten or harm someone’s reputation.
- Making a threat while disguising appearance, such as wearing a mask.
- Throwing an object at someone.
What Is Battery?
Now that you understand what assault is and some different examples, let’s talk about battery. The definition of battery may vary by state, but generally speaking, it is the intentional harmful or offensive touching of another person without their consent. Intentionally touching someone in a harmful or offensive way, with no permission from the victim, will result in battery charges. Unlike assault, which doesn’t have to be physical, battery is punishable because actual contact has been made. If someone acts in a criminally negligent or reckless manner, that is considered battery as well. A victim does not need to be harmed or injured for the act to be punishable as battery, either. Here are some examples of battery to better understand it:
- Spitting on an individual.
- Any harmful and unwanted touching.
- Punching, pushing, kicking, pinching, or slapping another person.
- Striking someone repeatedly and trying to remove their clothes.
- Attempted rape or other sexual acts without explicit consent.
- Hurting someone intentionally.
- Grabbing someone with the intent to harm them.
Different Forms of Assault in Minnesota
Now that we’ve clarified the difference between assault and battery let’s go over the different forms of assault charges in Minnesota. There are five different types of charges, some being felony charges and others misdemeanors. Each type has its own consequences, with different charges and jail time or fines.
First-degree assault is the most serious of all assault charges in Minnesota. It is characterized by physically assaulting someone to the point of great bodily harm, meaning the victim has been put at risk of death, disfigurement, or loss of use. First-degree assault is a felony charge and can carry $30,000 in fines and up to 20 years in prison.
Second-degree assault is reserved for forms of assault that occur with the use of a dangerous weapon. This charge is applicable for all forms of weapons, from guns to baseball bats to any object that could be considered dangerous when wielded. If the act does not cause substantial bodily harm to the victim, then the punishment is up to seven years in prison and $14,000 in fines. If bodily harm does occur, then the sentence will be closer to 10 years in prison.
Third-degree assault is another felony charge, but it is less severe than the previous charges. This degree is used for anyone who has assaulted someone under the age of four, a minor where there is an abuse history, or some type of assault that resulted in substantial bodily harm. Though considered less serious than first or second degree, third-degree assault will result in up to five years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Unlike the previous charges, fourth-degree assault is considered a gross misdemeanor that is punishable with up to one year in jail and $3,000 in fines. This assault charge is used for cases where the alleged victim does not meet one of the previous classifications’ criteria. In some situations, it can be elevated to a felony charge, depending on the circumstances. Fourth-degree assault is often used if the act is committed against a police officer, corrections officer, school official, emergency medical personnel, or firefighter. It can also be used in the case of a hate crime if the victim is targeted because of their race, religion, sexual preference, or disability.
The final Minnesota assault charge is fifth-degree assault, a misdemeanor charge. It is reserved for any assault case that doesn’t meet the criteria of the other degrees listed above. Typically this charge comes with up to 90 days in jail and some fines. You don’t have to commit the act to be charged for this crime. An attempt is enough.
Seeking Legal Counsel After Assault and Battery
Any act of assault or battery can be hard on a victim and affect their life tremendously. In domestic abuse cases, the act might be done by a partner who the victim and their children depend on for money or shelter. Hiring an attorney to help you find the right legal solutions after an assault is an essential first step in ensuring it doesn’t happen again. Understanding what constitutes assault and battery will help people recognize when it occurs and know the acts committed against them are punishable by crime.Read More
Sometimes it may be necessary to file an order for protection or restraining order if you or your children become endangered. In Minnesota, there are two different types of orders for protection and harassment restraining orders. An experienced Minnesota attorney can help you determine which order to file to gain you the proper protection from an abuser or harasser. It can be difficult to know exactly which court order is correct for your situation, especially if you are involved in a family domestic incident or the victim of domestic abuse.
What is an Order for Protection?
An order of protection is a court order demanding the abuser stop any abuse. It is used in situations where there are allegations of an abusive relationship or domestic abuse, as defined by Minnesota law. Orders for protection prevent the alleged abuser, or respondent, from committing further domestic violence, living with the alleged victim, having custody or visiting minor children, and coming within a reasonable area surrounding the victim’s residence or workplace. Minnesota law defines domestic abuse as any of the following acts committed by a family or household member against another family or household member:
- Infliction of physical harm, bodily injury, or assault, such as hitting, kicking, slapping, pushing, stabbing, choking, burning.
- Infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, or assault, including threats of physical harm or assault.
- Terroristic threats, such as threats to commit a crime of violence, bomb threats, or showing a firearm.
- Acts of criminal sexual conduct, such as forced intercourse or forced sexual contact, or intercourse or any other form of sexual contact with a minor.
- Interference with an emergency call, including preventing, interrupting, or ending an emergency call.
A family or household member can be any of the following:
- Spouse or former spouse
- Persons involved in a significant romantic or sexual relationship
- Persons related by blood
- Persons living together or who have lived together in the past
- Parents and children
- Persons who have or had a child in common (born or in utero), regardless of whether they were living together or ever married
Types of Protection Orders
Orders of protection can be temporary or permanent orders, and there are different protocols for each type of order. Temporary orders for protection can be issued without the abuser present at the hearing, while long-term orders need both parties to attend a required hearing. Temporary or “ex parte” orders for protection are typically awarded to provide immediate safety to those in danger because of a domestic abuser. Full orders of protection offer even more protection but do require an official hearing at court.
Ex Parte Orders of Protection
Because courts recognize that domestic abuse can endanger lives, they will frequently award “ex parte” orders for protection, which means the respondent (alleged abuser) is not at the hearing when the order is issued. Temporary orders are used to provide immediate safety to family members in danger from a domestic abuser. In an ex parte order of protection, you will be granted the following protections:
- Ordering the abuser not to abuse you or your minor children.
- Ordering the abuser to be removed from the home that you share.
- Ordering the abuser to stay away from a reasonable area surrounding your home and place of work.
- Ordering the abuser not to contact you in person or by telephone, mail, email, electronic devices, or through a third party.
- Ordering any insurance coverage available to you currently remains, meaning the abuser cannot take you off their insurance plan if it’s through their work.
- Giving one of you possession or control of a pet kept by you, the abuser, or a child of you and ordering the abuser not to abuse the animal physically.
Full Orders of Protection
In some instances, a hearing is required to issue a full order of protection. This hearing might come about because the victim is seeking additional protection than what was granted originally through the ex parte order. In other instances, after an abuser is served with an ex parte order, they might request a hearing. If the petitioner (alleged victim) is requesting sole custody of minor children or child support, both parties must be present at the court hearing.
A full order of protection can last for up to two years, but you can also have the petition extended once the order expires if you need further protection. The judge can grant a full order for up to 50 years if the abuser has violated an existing or prior order for protection on two or more occasions or if you have been granted two or more orders for protection against the abuser. This ensures full protection without worrying about an expiration date. If there have been no violations after five years, an abuser can ask the judge to modify the order by proving there have been significant changes in the circumstances.
During the court hearing, both parties will have a chance to present evidence, testimony, and witnesses to prove why or why not the order should be issued. Understanding the different stages of domestic violence makes it easy to see why victims should want full protection from abusers. A full order of protection can grant them that and help the abuser get help through therapy or treatment. You can get the following protections as part of a full order of protection:
- All of the protections of an ex parte order.
- Temporary custody of your children or establishing temporary parenting time giving primary consideration to the safety of you and your children.
- Establish temporary child and spousal support.
- Provide counseling and other social services for you and the respondent if you are married or have children together.
- Order the abuser to participate in counseling or treatment.
- Award you temporary use and possession of shared property, such as a car.
- Order neither party to damage, sell, or get rid of property or use it as the basis for a loan.
- Order the abuser to pay restitution, such as your medical bills or lost income as a result of the abuse.
- Order the abuser not to possess firearms for the time the order is in effect.
- Instructs the abuser not to harass, stalk, or threaten you or engage in any other conduct that would put you in reasonable fear of injury.
- Order any other relief necessary to protect you and your children, including ordering law enforcement to accompany you home to get your belongings when necessary.
What is a Restraining Order?
Harassment restraining orders are used against a harasser, regardless of your relationship with him or her. It will order them to stop harassing you and have no contact with you. Restraining orders differ from orders of protection because domestic abuse does not necessarily have to be involved. Harassers can be someone you don’t know or are not related to but still wish for them to stay away from you because of harassment that has taken place. Temporary restraining orders can be issued without the harasser present in court. Final restraining orders can last up to two years but could be issued for 50 years if the harasser has additional violations or charges already against them.
Filing an Order For Protection or Restraining Order
Whether you are filing an order for protection or restraining order, don’t be afraid to get the help you and your children need. Domestic abuse advocates who are knowledgeable about the process, such as Violence Free Minnesota, can support you through all of the steps. An experienced attorney can also assist you through the process and make sure you have filed all the necessary paperwork. Judges typically err on the side of caution when issuing orders for protection and restraining orders, to ensure you and your family stay safe.Read More
Going through a divorce is already stressful for both parties, and property division can be a factor that adds even more. Couples that choose to go through with a divorce are encouraged to become familiar with their state’s laws and guidelines as every state differs. Whether you and your spouse decide to navigate property division on your own or with the help of a family law and divorce lawyer, familiarizing yourself with the process is the first step to a successful division of property.
Different Types of Divorce
Becoming familiar with the different types of divorce is helpful if you and your spouse have decided to take this step. Regardless of your situation, it’s essential to consider whether you and your spouse are willing to work together to reach a settlement or if frequent disagreements occur when working toward a resolution. Depending on your unique case, hiring a family law and divorce lawyer, mediator, or going to court may be more effective than trying to resolve the divorce on your own.
- Uncontested: You and your spouse work as a team to agree on the terms of your divorce and file court papers to make the divorce happen. There is no formal trial in an uncontested divorce, and it is unlikely that you or your spouse will be required to appear in court.
- Default: A divorce is granted by “default” if you file for divorce and your spouse doesn’t respond.
- Fault and No-Fault: In the past, one spouse has the opportunity to show that the other spouse was at fault for the marriage breaking down. Today, all states offer the option of “no-fault” divorce, which tells the court that both spouses are in agreement and have irreconcilable differences regarding the matter.
- Mediated: A neutral third party will sit down with you and your spouse to help resolve all issues in your divorce. A mediator is there to help you and your spouse communicate appropriately until an agreement is reached.
- Collaborative: Both spouses have lawyers, but instead of working separately, they work cooperatively to reach an agreement to settle your case. Both spouses agree to disclose any information that’s necessary to reach a fair negotiation.
- Arbitration: A private judge is hired to handle your divorce settlement to make the same decisions that a judge could make.
- Contested: If you and your spouse have a challenging time reaching an agreement about property or child custody, it’s beneficial to get a lawyer to help you. A lawyer will help you with a contested divorce, which consists of exchanging information, settlement negotiations, hearings, and possibly a court trial.
What Type of Property You Own
Each state varies in how property is divided in a divorce, and it’s encouraged for couples to be knowledgeable of the laws the state they reside in follows. If a lawyer is assigned to your case, he or she will be able to provide guidance on how your state completes division. Commonly, if you and your spouse have a large estate, it’s encouraged to hire an attorney to help you with a high-asset divorce. When navigating a divorce, there are two types of property that the court considers during property division.
- Non-Marital Property: This property belongs to only one spouse and is likely something one party owned before getting married. Gifts and inheritances or pensions vested before the marriage are also categorized as separate property.
- Marital Property: This property includes everything that both spouses have earned or acquired for their marriage duration. Paychecks from employment deposited into a joint account fall into this category, and typically homes do as well, especially if it was purchased with a combination of separate and community funds.
The State Where You Reside
Each state follows different guidelines as to how the courts divide property in a divorce. It’s essential for couples going through a divorce to become familiar with laws the state they reside in follows. This will help prepare you for what’s to come and alleviate any areas of uncertainty.
- Community Property: The state you’re located in will depend on how marital property is classified. In some states, marital property is considered either community or separate. Community property is commonly divided between spouses, with each spouse getting to keep their separate property.
- Equitable Distribution: If a state doesn’t classify the property as community or separate, it likely follows equitable distribution. This is when all assets and earnings accumulated during a marriage are divided fairly. The division may not be equal, meaning one spouse could get the house, and the other spouse would receive money for their portion of the house.
Dividing Property Yourselves
At times, couples going through a divorce choose to divide their property without the assistance of a lawyer or judge. This is specifically applicable when the couple getting a divorce can reach an agreement without guidance from a third party. In the circumstance that you and your spouse decide to divide property yourself, there are several steps that can guide you through the property division process and make it run smoothly.
- Make a list. Take time to work together and make a list of all community property. This will help you, and your spouse identify which items you want categorized as joint-owned versus separate.
- Identify the value. Once you’ve created your list of joint-owned and separate items, it’s encouraged to agree on each item’s value. Being transparent about the value of the property will allow you to split your property fairly.
- Choose an owner. After identifying each item’s worth, the next step is going through your list of joint-owned items and determining who gets what. It’s essential to take your time on this portion of the property division so that you can be sure items are divided equally. Start with the items of most significant value and make your way down the list.
- Get approval from a judge. If you and your spouse can work together and agree on dividing property evenly, the judge will likely approve whatever agreement you have decided on. There are instances where the judge won’t approve or will have questions, especially if one spouse ends up with significantly less than the other.
Contact a Family Law and Divorce Lawyer Today
Divorce can be a stressful, emotional time for all involved, and property division can add to this stress if not properly managed. Every state differs in its laws and guidelines for property division during divorce, making it essential that couples familiarize themselves or get guidance from a professional. Whether you’ve chosen to navigate property division with assistance from a family law and divorce lawyer or have decided to divide the property on your own, there are many resources available. Contact a family law and divorce lawyer today to get started on your property division.Read More
Following a car accident, it can be challenging to get your bearing and figure out the necessary steps you need to take. Sure, the initial 911 call, identifying any damages on your car, and collecting insurance info are all givens — but there’s a laundry list of to-dos that unfortunately get forgotten in the hours or days following an accident.
For personal injury lawyers like us, we take these matters seriously and want victims of car accidents to know how to proceed after a car accident. Having a helpful step-by-step guide to remind yourself how to handle the days and weeks after an accident can be helpful — so we’ve created a simple list that should help keep your affairs in order.
What To Do RIGHT After a Car Accident
While it’s certainly easier said than done, immediately following a crash, there are important steps to take. Your head may be whirling, and your mind will surely be racing, but here are some quick tips to keep everyone safe and accountable after a car accident.
Just remember S.E.A.M. It’s a quick and easy acronym to remember what you should do if you’re involved in an accident.
You’ll want to make sure that you or any other passengers in your vehicle are safe and accounted for. Move your vehicle to the side of the road and out of direct traffic. If your vehicle is unable to be moved, keep your seatbelt on and turn on hazards until help arrives. Removing your seatbelt is often the first mistake, and slippery roads or inattentive drivers may cause further crashes to occur — so keep your safety precautions on.
Dial 911 and wait for police and emergency services to arrive to the scene. They will handle road flares or signals to prevent through-traffic from creating further damage. During an accident on a public road or highway, always notify police so that you can gather a police report that can later be used if needed.
The next step is to exchange your name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, license plate, and insurance information with the others involved. There’s no need to discuss or review the details of the accident — as you may end up making statements that unintentionally incriminate yourself.
This can be one of the most difficult steps, especially for those who have never been in an accident. There’s no need to discuss who is at fault with the other party. Speculation will fly, and fingers will be pointed, but do your best to stay out of the conversation and simply exchange information. Law enforcement will make an objective assessment as to the causes or contributing factors of the accident.
Account for Everything
Most of us are fortunate enough to have a smartphone on us at all times. These are a perfect way to capture the damage and make a note of anything that may have caused the accident. Car accidents can be a jarring experience, and our memory can be easily led astray in the hours after a crash. It’s important to write down everything you can remember about the road conditions and weather conditions, if their lights were on, or any other details that may have contributed to the accident.
Use your camera to snap photos of damages to both your car and theirs. If there are witnesses around, gather their information as they can be a saving grace down the road.
Make a Doctor’s Appointment
If it’s a minor fender bender and there are no injuries whatsoever, you may just exchange information. However, if there are any injuries, even minor soreness — schedule a doctor’s appointment immediately. In the event of serious injuries, you will likely be transported via ambulance to an emergency room.
There could be underlying issues or medical problems that grow increasingly worse over the coming weeks or months, and you’ll want not only to be healthy — but have proper documentation. Many neck and back injuries don’t present themselves right away, so in the days following an accident, keep an eye on how your body is feeling and make an appointment right away if you notice any issues.
If the other party is at fault, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, pain, suffering, or lost wages due to the accident. However, timely medical evaluation is a necessity in order to get the compensation you deserve.
Over the Next Few Days
The days following a car accident can be frustrating. Your car may be in bad shape or even worse, your health. If there are any injury concerns, you must contact a trusted personal injury attorney. They’ll help evaluate your situation and potential legal case at absolutely no risk to you. If you decide to hire their services, they’ll investigate your case and manage all of the complexities associated with a personal injury lawsuit — along with handling the insurance company communications.
Injuries associated with a car accident can be incredibly stressful and even traumatizing. Having an experienced legal team by your side can give you peace of mind going forward. As we said previously, a prompt medical evaluation is critical during this step. Your symptoms may ebb and flow, but your physician needs to be informed about any changes to your health status. Pain, dizziness, fatigue, numbness, or any other signs of health problems are all important factors in a personal injury lawsuit. So, keep a close eye on your health over the coming days and weeks.
We’re Here to Help
At Cline Jensen, PLLC., we’ve worked with hundreds of clients who have experienced car accidents and needed our help to seek compensation. We understand how difficult the process can be, and we take every opportunity to advocate for our clients and handle injury victims with respect and care.
If you or a loved one has been in a car accident and require legal assistance, we can help. We’ll be by your side every step of the way to ensure that your case is a priority.Read More