Second Degree Assault With A Dangerous Weapon Defined
A second degree assault in Minnesota requires the presence of a dangerous weapon. You would think that what counts as a second degree assault with a dangerous weapon would be self-explanatory. But, you may be surprised to learn that Minnesota courts have created a very broad and loose definition of dangerous weapons to capture things that may not otherwise be normally considered weapons. This blog looks at the definition for dangerous weapons as it pertains to second degree assault.
A dangerous weapon is defined by statute as “any device designed as a weapon and capable of producing death or great bodily harm,” or any “other device or instrumentality that, in the manner it is used or intended to be used, is calculated or likely to produce death or great bodily harm.” Minn. Stat. § 609.02, subd. 6. This creates two elements the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt: (1) use of a device or instrumentality (2) in a manner that was calculated or likely to produce death or great bodily harm.
When analyzing this definition and trying to determine whether an “object is a dangerous weapon depends on the nature of the object and the manner in which it is used.” This means that everyday objects can become dangerous weapons depending on how they are used.
Let’s take a look at some examples of non-traditional items that have been deemed dangerous weapons for a second degree assault:
- A beer bottle, when thrown with enough force to break on the victim’s head;
- Hands and feet – depends on the circumstances because separate appellate courts have held that these do and do not qualify as dangerous weapons;
- Metal lamp used to attack someone;
- A motor vehicle;
- An unloaded or inoperable gun; and
- A pit bull terrier when it was ordered to attack a person by the owner (yup – a dog can be a dangerous weapon according to our appellate courts).