Assault in Missouri
Many of us have heard the term “assault” and have a general idea of what that term means, but what defines the difference in classes of assault as far as the law sees it in Missouri? An experienced criminal defense attorney can help explain the differences in possible outcomes depending on the crime that’s been alleged.
The assault would be considered first-degree if the attacker, knowingly in advance, attempts to kill or attempts to cause serious physical injury to another. In general, first-degree assault is a Class B felony which can escalate to a Class A felony if the victim is any of the following:
- An officer of the law
- Emergency personnel
- A probation or parole officer
- An elderly person (60 or older)
- A person with a disability
- A vulnerable person (a person who is in custody, care, or control of the Department of Mental Health)
- A correctional officer
- A highway worker in work zone
- A utility worker on the job
- A cable operator
- A mass transit worker
There are four ways in which assault would be classified as second degree:
- Attempting to kill or cause serious physical injury due to passion of adequate cause
- Attempting to cause any physical injury via the use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument
- Recklessly causing serious physical injury
- Recklessly causing any physical injury by means of a firearm being discharged
In the case of the first scenario, it is the defendant’s burden to prove that the passion that arose was such that it would cause someone to act spontaneously, as opposed to have pre-meditated the assault, otherwise the crime would be first-degree. These crimes are all Class D felonies which can escalate to Class B if the victim comes from the list given above.
Third-degree assault is when someone, knowingly causes any physical injury to another person. This would be classified as a Class E felony unless the victim comes from the list above in which case it is raised to a Class D felony.
These crimes actually have the most scenarios involved to be classified as fourth-degree.
- Attempting to cause or recklessly causing physical injury, physical pain, or illness of another
- Negligently causing physical injury to another by means of a firearm being discharged
- Threatening immediate physical injury
- Recklessly engaging in activities that create a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another
- Knowingly causes or attempts to cause physical contact with a disabled person that an able-bodied person would find offensive or provocative
- Knowingly causing physical contact with another, knowing that person will find it offensive or provocative
These crimes would be classified as Class C misdemeanors unless the victim was of a special circumstance listed above which raises the crime to a Class A misdemeanor.
There are certain words bolded above which differentiate the various levels, so it is important to know what they mean
- Dangerous Instrument – any item or substance, which, used in the form that it is, could cause death or serious physical injury
- Deadly Weapon – any firearm (loaded or unloaded), any other item that shoots a projectile that could cause death or serious physical injury, a switchblade knife, a dagger, a billy club, a blackjack, or metal knuckles
- Knowingly – the person is aware what they are doing will cause a certain exact result
- Physical Injury – a slight impairment of any function of the body or temporary loss of use of any part of the body
- Recklessly – Consciously disregarding a substantial risk where a reasonable person would use caution
- Serious Physical Injury – Physical injury that causes a substantial risk of death or that causes serious disfigurement or impairment of the use of any part of the body
Which type of assault is it?
Assault charges are very serious and are best handled alongside competent criminal defense attorneys. Twibell Pierson Criminal Law will be by your side if you find yourself being charged with assault. The sooner you discuss your options with a lawyer; the brighter your future will be.