It's common to hear the phrase "assault and battery," which could lead you to think that it's a single crime. However many states actually separate the two, and some only use one term to address both crimes. For example, in Missouri, there's no crime called "battery." Instead, crimes that are usually classified as battery are referred to as a form of "assault" in Missouri.
Missouri also separates assault into different "degrees," with first degree assault being the most serious crime and fourth degree assault being the least serious. Missouri also has a specific sentencing structure for those who are prior or persistent assault offenders.
Missouri Assault Laws at a Glance
Although statutes provide a good source of information when there's a question about the law, they're usually written in "legalese." To better understand the law, it's often helpful to also read a summary of the language in plain English. In the following table, you'll find a summary of assault laws in Missouri as well as links to relevant statutes.
Missouri Revised Statutes, Title XXXVIII. Chapter 565:
|Defining the Offense(s)
Assault, first degree: Attempting to kill or knowingly causing/attempting to cause serious physical injury to someone.
Assault, second degree: This crime exists in any one of the following situations:
- When under the influence of sudden passion arising from an adequate cause, attempting to kill or knowingly causing/attempting to cause serious physical injury to someone;
- Attempting to cause/knowingly causing physical injury to another person by using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument;
- Recklessly causing serious physical injury to someone; or
- Recklessly causing physical injury by discharging a firearm.
Assault, third degree: Knowingly causing physical injury to someone.
Assault, fourth degree: This crime exists in any one of the following situations:
- Attempting to cause or recklessly causing physical injury, physical pain, or illness to someone;
- With criminal negligence, causing physical injury to someone by using a firearm;
- Deliberately placing another person in apprehension of immediate physical injury;
- Recklessly engaging in conduct that creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another person;
- Knowingly causing/attempting to cause physical contact with a disabled person, which a reasonable person (without a disability) would consider offensive; or
- Knowingly causing physical contact with another person knowing that person will consider the contact offensive.
Assault, first degree: Class B felony
Assault, second degree: Class D felony
Assault, third degree: Class E felony
Assault, fourth degree: Class A misdemeanor, but violation of (3) or (6) is a class C misdemeanor.
Note: if the victim is a "special victim" as defined in Section 565.002, then different charges will apply. For details, please see the assault statutes.
The following terms of imprisonment and fines are authorized by Missouri's criminal laws:
- Class B felony: Imprisonment for 5 to 15 years.
- Class D felony: Imprisonment for up to 7 years and/or fines of up to $10,000.
- Class E felony: Imprisonment for up to 4 years and/or fines of up to $10,000.
- Class A misdemeanor: Imprisonment for up to 1 year and/or fines of up to $2,000.
- Class C misdemeanor: Imprisonment for up to 15 days and/or fines of up to $750.
Missouri Revised Statutes, Title XXXVIII. Chapter 565. Section 565.072, et seq. (Domestic Assault)
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Missouri Assault Laws: Related Resources
If you'd like more information and resources related to this topic, you can visit the links listed below.
Charged with Violating Missouri Assault Laws? Get Legal Help
The penalties for an assault conviction in Missouri will depend on which degree of assault you've been charged with. If you're facing charges of assault, it's in your best interest to get in touch with a local criminal defense attorney to better understand the allegations against you and to ensure that you have a persuasive advocate on your side.