Assault Cases

Criminal Charges and Consequences Explained
Assault criminal charges in Missouri

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Assault cases in Missouri are often one of the most charged victim related crimes in Missouri. There are Four levels of assault ranging from a misdemeanor all the way to an A level felony. There are a variety of instances which can lead to an assault charge in Missouri. The State has a strong interest in prosecuting assault to its fullest degree possible especially when there are serious injuries or special victims involved. Each level of assault has a different set of elements which must be proven by the prosecution and differ heavily in consequences.

Many times, those who are accused of assault don’t know where to start and don’t know how to best approach their case and deal with the consequences. It is important that you have someone on your side who is experienced in assault cases. At the Krupp law firm, we are experienced in this area of law and know how to approach your unique case.

Where do Assault charges come from?

There are a variety of instances that can lead to an Assault charge in St. Louis and St. Charles County, Missouri. Some of the most common charges stem from physical altercations involving striking, with or without a weapon, or the immediate threat of striking or hurting someone with or without a weapon. Sometimes there are not any immediate physical acts involved toward another person. Prosecutors often use various level of assault charges to mold the conduct they thing to be dangerous or threatening to other people even when someone was not directly stricken or threatened in a traditional manner.

What is the Law in Missouri on Assault?

Assault – First Degree: B to A Felony

In Missouri, a person commits the offense of assault in the first degree if he or she attempts to kill or knowingly causes or attempts to cause serious physical injury to another person.

The offense of assault in the first degree is a class B felony unless in the course thereof the person inflicts serious physical injury on the victim, or if the victim of such assault is a special victim, as the term “special victim” is defined under Missouri Law, in which case it is a class A felony.

First degree assault is considered one of the most serious person or victim related crimes in Missouri, outside of homicide cases and sex cases. Prosecutors usually reserve this charge for an instance where they think the suspect is dangerous and has truly and intentionally attempted to or successfully harmed someone. Still, many prosecutors’ offices, particularly in St. Louis and St. Charles County focus on being victim centric and will push for a serious charge in an effort to advocate for the alleged victim.

Assault – Second Degree: D to B Felony

A person commits the offense of assault in the second degree if he or she:

Attempts to kill or knowingly causes or attempts to cause serious physical injury to another person under the influence of sudden passion arising out of adequate cause; or

Attempts to cause or knowingly causes physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument; or

Recklessly causes serious physical injury to another person; or

Recklessly causes physical injury to another person by means of discharge of a firearm.

The defendant shall have the burden of injecting the issue of influence of sudden passion arising from adequate cause under Missouri law.

The offense of assault in the second degree is a class D felony, unless the victim of such assault is a special victim, as the term “special victim” is defined under Missouri Law, in which case it is a class B felony.

Second degree assault brings an interesting aspect for criminal defense attorneys to analyze because it lowers the intent required to “recklessly” in many situations and also brings up the issue of sudden passion arising from adequate cause. The issue of sudden passion is what is called an affirmative defense, meaning unlike most times where the prosecutor must prove every element beyond a reasonable doubt, here, if you want to use the sudden passion defense, you as the defendant must prove it by introducing evidence. “Adequate cause” is defined as cause that would reasonably produce a degree of passion in a person of ordinary temperament sufficient to substantially impair an ordinary person's capacity for self-control.

Assault – Third Degree: E to D Felony

In Missouri, a person commits the offense of assault in the third degree if he or she knowingly causes physical injury to another person.

The offense of assault in the third degree is a class E felony, unless the victim of such assault is a special victim, as the term “special victim” is defined under Missouri law in which case it is a class D felony.

Assault – Fourth Degree: C to A Misdemeanor

Fourth degree assault is easily the least serious assault charge, but a conviction under this law could still bring harsh or serious consequences. There are also many ways to prove Fourth Degree Assault. In Missouri, a person commits the offense of assault in the fourth degree if:

  1. The person attempts to cause or recklessly causes physical injury, physical pain, or illness to another person;
  2. With criminal negligence the person causes physical injury to another person by means of a firearm;
  3. The person purposely places another person in apprehension of immediate physical injury;
  4. The person recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another person;
  5. The person knowingly causes or attempts to cause physical contact with a person with a disability, which a reasonable person, who does not have a disability, would consider offensive or provocative; or
  6. The person knowingly causes physical contact with another person knowing the other person will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.

Except as provided in subsection 3 of this section, assault in the fourth degree is a class A misdemeanor. Violation of the provisions of subdivision (3) or (6) of subsection 1 of this section is a class C misdemeanor unless the victim is a special victim, as the term “special victim” is defined under Missouri law, in which case a violation of such provisions is a class A misdemeanor.

What is a “Special victim” under Missouri Law?:

  • A law enforcement officer assaulted in the performance of his or her official duties or as a direct result of such official duties;
  • Emergency personnel, any paid or volunteer firefighter, emergency room, hospital, or trauma center personnel, or emergency medical technician, assaulted in the performance of his or her official duties or as a direct result of such official duties;
  • An elderly person;
  • A person with a disability;
  • A vulnerable person;
  • Any jailer or corrections officer of the state or one of its political subdivisions assaulted in the performance of his or her official duties or as a direct result of such official duties;
  • A highway worker in a construction or work zone as the terms “highway worker”, “construction zone”, and “work zone” are defined under Missouri Law
  • Any utility worker, meaning any employee of a utility that provides gas, heat, electricity, water, steam, telecommunications services, or sewer services, whether privately, municipally, or cooperatively owned, while in the performance of his or her job duties, including any person employed under a contract;
  • Any cable worker, meaning any employee of a cable operator, as such term is defined under Missouri law, including any person employed under contract, while in the performance of his or her job duties; and
  • Any employee of a mass transit system, including any employee of public bus or light rail companies, while in the performance of his or her job duties;

What is my next step now that I have been charged with Assault in St. Louis or St. Charles County?

Seek help, as early as possible. Assault charges are often misunderstood, and you may have a great defense, but especially in these cases compared to other cases, having an attorney on your side early is important to prevent harsh and unnecessary consequences in the future. You should seek to hire someone who has experience in the field, who has built up assault cases on the other side by prosecuting those cases, who has handled many different scenarios of assault accusations and who has tried and won assault cases. We’re confident that you will find that here at the krupp law firm.