Fourth Degree Assault occurs when someone physically assaults and inflicts demonstrable bodily harm or intentionally throws or transfers bodily fluids upon a specific class of people. Bodily harm is any physical pain or injury, illness, or any impairment of a physical condition. It can be as basic as a red mark or a bruise.

Fourth Degree Assault can be a gross misdemeanor or a felony depending on the act, who the victim is, and whether the actor has any priors. In short, Fourth Degree Assault is any assault against a special protected class where some evidence of harm can be shown.

What makes up this protected class of people?

The list of protected people is expansive. An assault against an employee of the Department of Natural Resources, school official (like a teacher, school administrator, or school employee), a public employee with mandated duties (like a child protection worker, animal control officer, agricultural officer, etc.), community crime prevention group member, vulnerable adult, reserve officer, utility and postal service employees, and transit operators is considered a gross misdemeanor.

An assault against firefighter, healthcare provider (like a nurse, EMT, doctor, etc.), correctional employee, prosecuting attorney, judge, probation officer, and personnel of a secure treatment facility is a felony. An assault against a peace officer (or police officer) or an assault motivated by bias relating to a person’s race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age, or national origin can be a gross misdemeanor or felony depending on if someone has a prior or if they throw/transfer bodily fluids as part of the assault.

It is important to note that in most circumstances the people within these protected groups must be acting within their duties at the time of the assault or the actor knows the person is one of these protected people. However, that does not always mean they are in uniform or specifically at their workplace.

What are the possible consequences?

Fourth Degree Assault is a gross misdemeanor or a felony. The maximum penalty for a gross misdemeanor is 365 days imprisonment and a fine of $3,000. While the maximum penalty for a felony ranges from 366 days to three years and a fine of $3,000 to $6,000. Keep in mind, the maximum punishment rarely gets handed down from judges. Most plea bargain offers are less than the maximum and most straight pleas to a judge result in less than maximum punishment. Even if you have a jury trial and are not successful, the judge may not sentence the maximum punishment. Often, sentences result in stayed jail time. This means that if you comply with your probationary conditions, then you will not have to end up serving the duration of the stayed jail time.