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Understanding assault charges in Missouri

On Behalf of | Jun 14, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Criminal charges based on violent crimes, such as assault, often result in some of the most serious consequences. Under Missouri law, an assault is defined as inflicting or attempting to inflict harm on another person, touching someone offensive manner, and/or placing another person in fear of imminent harm. It is important to note that the crime of assault, unlike the crime of battery, does not typically have to involve physical contact.

The severity of the consequences will also depend on the degree of seriousness. Generally, under Mo. Rev. Stat. Chapter 565, there are four levels of assault, ranging from the most serious (first degree) to the least serious (fourth degree). Here are some examples of what is considered an assault at each level:

  • First degree: Assaulting a “special victim” (Class A felony) or intentionally attempting to cause serious harm to or kill another person (Class B felony).
  • Second degree: Intentionally attempting to harm someone with a weapon (Class D felony).
  • Third degree: Intentionally causing physical harm to someone (Class E felony).
  • Fourth degree: Causing harm to someone through criminal negligence (Class A misdemeanor).

What are the consequences of an assault conviction?

A conviction for a felony assault carries a sentence of anywhere from a minimum of four years in prison for a Class E felony to 10 to 30 years or life in prison for a Class A felony. You may also be fined up to $10,000.

If you are convicted of a misdemeanor assault (Class A or Class C), you could face up to a year in jail and up to $2,000 in fines.

If you are facing assault charges in Missouri, proving that you were acting in self-defense may be your best chance at avoiding a conviction. However, there are also several other defense strategies that may be helpful, depending on the facts of your specific case.