Jul 20, 2023

Understanding the levels of assault in Missouri


Facing assault allegations can be an overwhelming experience. When your freedom is on the line, it’s important to understand what charges you may be facing, and how you and your criminal defense attorney may be able to defend yourself against the prosecution.

The degrees of assault

A general definition of assault is the act of inflicting physical harm or fear of physical harm on another person. Missouri takes that definition and splits it into four degrees of severity:

What is first degree assault ?

This is the most serious offense. You face Class B felony charges when accused of first degree assault. This crime involves the intentional attempt to kill or knowingly harm or cause serious injury to another person.

What is second degree assault?

This level results in Class D felony penalties. Second degree assault involves more specific stipulations. Acts categorized as second degree assault include attempting to harm someone with a weapon, causing serious physical harm through reckless behavior or attempting to harm someone after a sudden display of passion.

What is third degree assault?

A third degree assault charge warrants Class E felony penalties. It is intentionally causing physical harm to someone.

What is fourth degree assault?

The lowest level assault offense, a fourth degree assault charge is a Class A misdemeanor. It involves purposefully placing someone in harm’s way, causing physical injury due to criminal negligence and attempting to cause or knowingly causing physical contact with another person who would consider the contact offensive.

Possible defenses for assault charges

While assault charges in Missouri are serious and potentially life-changing, there are ways to defend yourself and minimize the impact that these types of allegation can have on your future.

Proving that you acted in self-defense is a common defense for assault allegations. Often, it can be tricky to deny an accusation of assault. But it is possible to prove that you acted in order to protect yourself.

Similarly, you may have acted in order to protect another third party. Acting in defense of others is another potential method of fighting your assault charge.

Understand all your options with a Missouri criminal defense attorney

Regardless of your defense, an experienced attorney can help you build a strong strategy and fight for the best possible outcome for you.