Missouri Assault Charges
Charges of assault in the State of Missouri are serious charges by themselves and in some instances can be charged as felonies. We’ve all heard the terms assault and battery being used interchangeably, mostly from your favorite episode of Law and Order, The Good Wife or my favorite Boston Legal. Generally, there is a distinct difference between the act of assault and the act of battery.
Assault is purposely or knowingly placing or attempting to place another in fear or physical harm. Battery on the other hand, is purposely or knowingly causing physical harm to another. It’s best described with the old “bar room brawl” example:
Tom and Jerry are at a bar drinking, and decide they’re going to start talking about the recent Presidential election; never a good idea. The next think you know, the conversation gets heated and Tom squares up to take a punch at Jerry. This is where the distinction becomes apparent.
When Tom takes his swing at Jerry, Jerry ducks the punch and Tom completely misses, falling flat on his face in the middle of the bar. Tom has committed the offense of an assault for placing Jerry in reasonable fear of getting punched.
Now, let’s say Jerry doesn’t see that same punch coming and doesn’t have a chance to duck out of the way. Tom lands his punch to Jerry’s jaw and it’s now Jerry who’s flat on his face in the bar. Tom has now committed the offense of battery for causing physical harm to Jerry.
While I stated above, this is generally how the two charges are distinguished, you’ll see below the State of Missouri has merged the two charges together. Essentially, in the State of Missouri, assault in the fourth degree is the general charge of assault in the majority of other states. Missouri’s assault in the first, second and third degree requires some sort of physical harm; like the general battery charges in other states.
Missouri breaks down assault into four separate degrees. No, not an associates, bachelors, masters and doctorate. The charges are broken down into first, second, third and fourth degree assault.
First Degree Assault
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. Assault in the first degree is a Class B Felony, punishable to 5-15 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
Second Degree Assault
A person commits the offense of assault in the second degree if he or she:
(1) 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
(2) Attempts to cause or knowingly causes physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument; or
(3) Recklessly causes serious physical injury to another person; or
(4) Recklessly causes physical injury to another person by means of discharge of a firearm.
Assault in the second degree is a Class D Felony, punishable up to 7 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
Third Degree Assault
A person commits the offense of assault in the third degree if he or she knowingly causes physical injury to another person. Assault in the third degree is a Class E Felony, punishable up to 4 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
Fourth Degree Assault
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.
Assault in the fourth degree is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable up to one years in jail and fines up to $2,000.
If you have been charged with any degree of assault in the State of Missouri, these charges can be extremely serious with long lasting impacts on your life. Contact Howard Law and (314) 833-3505, 24 hours a day 7 days a week, and have us fight back against your assault charges.
About The Author
Evan M. Howard is the managing attorney for Howard Law, a St. Louis criminal defense law firm based in Clayton, Missouri. Howard Law is focused on giving honest, quick and effective representation to all of its clients. With experience dealing with tough criminal prosecution cases, Howard Law is ready to help guide you through your legal matter.