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S.F. No. 541 - Fourth Degree Assault (as amended by the SCS0541A-1 Delete-Everything Amendment)
Author: Senator Karin Housley
Prepared By: Kenneth P. Backhus, Senate Counsel (651/296-4396)
Date: March 13, 2019


The SCS0541A-1 delete-everything amendment makes numerous changes to the 4th degree assault law. In general, the 4th degree assault law provides enhanced penalties ranging from gross misdemeanors up to a three-year felony for low-level assaults committed against certain classes of victims. Currently, the statute varies on the penalties provided and the underlying conduct addressed.

This amendment:

  • Adds references to committing 4th degree assault by intentionally throwing or otherwise transferring bodily fluids or feces at or onto the victim to each of the crimes that currently do not have this. (The recent trend in this regard has been to add these references and this amendment does this comprehensively to avoid having to add these references piecemeal in the future.) In addition, changes one limited reference on this issue (that includes only urine, blood, or semen) to the broader reference (bodily fluids).
  • Clarifies that certain crimes involving assaults that result in demonstrable bodily harm (DBH) be termed “physical” assaults. This change is not substantive but results in a more uniformly worded statute. Makes a substantive change to the assault of a reserve officer crime (subdivision 9) to require that this assault be a physical one that results in DBH. Under current law, this element is not required.
  • Eliminates a redundant crime of assaulting a probation or parole officer (subdivision 6) since this conduct is already covered in another subdivision (subdivision 3) of the law.
  • Splits out assaulting hospital emergency department health care providers from assaulting firefighters and EMS personnel (currently all are in subdivision 2) by putting the former into a separate subdivision (new subdivision 12). Increases penalties for assaults of hospital emergency department health care providers (new subdivision 12). Under current law, an assault of a doctor, nurse, or other person performing health care services in a hospital emergency department that results in DBH is a two-year felony (maximum fine of $4,000). This change makes that a three-year felony (maximum fine of $6,000). It also provides a new gross misdemeanor crime for a physical assault that does not result in DBH. Finally, it removes the limitation that the health care personnel be in a hospital emergency room and replaces that with a requirement that it be in a hospital. The increased felony penalty and the new gross misdemeanor would treat this class of victims the same as peace officers.
  • Makes a number of technical and conforming changes.
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