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;
  • Scissors;
  • 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).
It’s important to remember, a second degree assault with a dangerous weapon does not require actual injury. It can be a fear-based assault with the use of a dangerous weapon. And, even if it is a harm-based assault, the bodily harm does not need to be caused by the dangerous weapon, so long as a weapon was used during the incident. Finally, if it is a fear-based assault, it is a specific intent crime that could lead to the use of voluntary intoxication as a defense to the crime.
If you are facing a second degree assault with a dangerous weapon charge, it is critical to get a skilled and aggressive Minnesota assault attorney to fight on your behalf. This is especially true if the County Attorney is over-charging you for a felony second degree assault with a dangerous weapon when there is no business to prove that the item at issue should be considered a weapon. Contact us immediately to get you on your side when you need it the most.