When the 2nd Amendment Leads to 2nd Degree Assault Charges

The 2nd Amendment allows Americans to own firearms to protect themselves, but Minnesota’s self-defense laws impose a duty to retreat before an individual can use deadly force to protect themselves. This creates a gray area where reasonable force becomes subjective to each individual situation.

Understanding Reasonable Force

Reasonable force means that an individual is justified in applying a level of force that is appropriate for stopping a theft or assault. For example, if an intruder breaks into an individual’s home carrying a firearm, they may utilize a firearm to protect themselves. While Minnesota does not have a Castle Doctrine, individuals do not have a duty to retreat within their own home.

However, reasonable force can be subjective. If an intruder was not carrying a firearm but instead had a knife, then a prosecutor may pursue 2nd degree assault charges and claim that the homeowner used excessive force in ceasing the threat. Such situations have in the past and continue to happen in Minnesota.

Claiming Self-Defense

In order for an individual to claim self-defense, they must establish that they were not the aggressor in the situation and did not provoke the victim. They must also be able to establish that there was an imminent danger and that they had reason to believe that their life was in jeopardy. Finally, they must establish that there was no possibility to safely retreat from the situation prior to the use of deadly force. An assault lawyer in Minnesota can help individuals establish these facts and demonstrate to the court that the use of deadly force was necessary in order to protect life or property. This can be accomplished via eyewitness statements, examination of physical evidence, review of security camera footage, police reports, etc.

2nd Degree Assault Penalties in Minnesota

Individuals can be charged with 2nd degree assault if they use a firearm or other dangerous weapon that has the potential to cause great bodily harm or kill. These can include firearms, knives, baseball bats, and even fire. Individuals convicted of 2nd degree assault can face between 7-10 years in prison and a fine of up to $14,000. If the assault caused a death or substantial bodily harm, that fine can be up to $20,000. Finally, if the assault was against law enforcement professionals, the individual can face a sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $30,000.

He has won jury trial cases in misdemeanor and felony cases and in DWI’s and non-DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. He is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

People facing criminal charges in Minnesota often ask, “Can you defend yourself in court?” You can represent yourself in court when charged with a crime. Self-representation, however, is not typically in the accused's best interests, even if courts allow it.
Parents whose children have been arrested or accused of committing a heinous crime might wonder, “Can a minor be charged with a felony?” A minor aged 14 years or older but below 18 years may face felony charges in Minnesota.
People accused of or under investigation for assault might ask, “What are the charges for assault?” Minnesota has five levels of assault charges. First-degree assault is the most serious offense, and a conviction often results in the most severe penalties, like long prison time and hefty fines.