What Is 4th-Degree Assault? (And How Much Time You’ll Spend In Jail)

What Is 4th-Degree Assault

What is 4th-degree assault?

In this article, you’ll learn about:

  • what it is
  • how it compares to other assault charges
  • the fines, jail time, and penalties in each state
  • how to defend yourself against the charges

Let’s dig in.

Table of Contents

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Key Points About 4th-Degree Assault

4th-degree assault:

  • is a felony in 40 states.
  • is a misdemeanor in 10 states.
  • can bring up to 10 years in jail & $300,000 in fines.
  • is often charged when an injury is minor.
  • can be convicted even if the injury was accidental.

Some statistics are that:

  • 15% of violent crimes include 4th-degree assault.
  • there were over 180,000 4th-degree assaults last year.
  • over 4,000 people were arrested for 4th-degree assault in California alone last year.

What Is 4th-Degree Assault?

4th-degree assault is:

  • the lowest degree of assault
  • normally classified as a gross misdemeanor charge

It involved minor physical contact, like:

  • pushing
  • shoving
  • slapping

Or the threat to do any of these.

It differs from other types of assaults because it does not involve:

  • serious bodily harm
  • severe physical pain
  • use of a deadly weapon

Assault charges often occur in domestic violence cases.

And when one family or household member threatens or commits violence against others.

Legal Definition Of 4th-Degree Assault

4th-degree assault is an intentional act.

It results in offensive or physical contact with another person without their consent.

This type of assault is typically punishable by a fine, probation, or jail time.

Read More: Is It Illegal To Hit A Girl

How The Types Of Assault Compare To Each Other

Here is a list of the different types of assault.

And what constitutes that type of assault charge on your criminal records.

  • First-Degree Assault: Intentionally causing serious bodily injury or use of a deadly weapon.
  • Second Degree Assault: Intentionally causing bodily injury with a dangerous weapon.
  • Third-Degree Assault: Intentionally causing bodily injury or recklessly causing serious bodily injury.
  • Fourth-Degree Assault: Intentionally causing minor physical contact or threatening to do so.

Types Of Fourth-Degree Assault

Assault in the 4th degree is a Class A Misdemeanor.

But, there are other situations that change the criminal charges you can face.

Some examples are assault in the 4th degree with the intent to cause:

  • physical injury (Class A Misdemeanor)
  • serious physical injury with criminal negligence (Class E Felony)
  • physical injury with a weapon or dangerous instrument (Class D Felony)
  • physical injury while committing a felony (Class C Felony)
  • physical injury to a child (Class E Felony)
  • physical injury to a person 60 years of age or older or a vulnerable adult (Class D Felony)
  • physical injury to a pregnant woman or her unborn child (Class E Felony)
  • physical injury with a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument (Class C Felony under )
  • physical injury to a peace officer, firefighter, or school official (Class D Felony)

It’s normally a Class D Felony if you attack any of the following public employees:

  • school officials
  • law enforcement officers/police officers
  • emergency medical service professionals
  • probation officers

Examples of the penal codes that have these subsection rules for 4th-degree assault are:

Penalties For 4th-Degree Assault By State

The most common penalties for a 4th-degree assault across all states are:

  • 5 years in jail
  • $10,000 in fines
  • felony charges (in 28 states)

Fill out the form on this page for a free consultation with an assault attorney.

Our law firm has the experience to keep you from getting wrongly accused.

And the experience to minimize your jail time and fines.

4th-Degree Charges, Fines, And Jail Time By State

StateMax Jail TimeMax FinesCriminal Charge
Alabama2 Years$2,000Misdemeanor
Alaska5 Years$50,000Felony
Arizona4 Months$2,500Misdemeanor
Arkansas6 Years$10,000Felony
California4 Years$10,000Felony
Colorado18 Months$500,000Felony
Connecticut2 Years$2,000Felony
Delaware5 Years$25,000Felony
Florida5 Years$10,000Felony
Georgia5 Years$7,500Felony
Hawaii1 Year$2,000Misdemeanor
Idaho5 Years$5,000Misdemeanor
Illinois3 Years$25,000Felony
Indiana3 Years$10,000Felony
Iowa2 Years$625Misdemeanor
Kansas34 Months$300,000Felony
Kentucky5 Years$10,000Felony
Louisiana6 Months$500Misdemeanor
Maine5 Years$5,000Felony
Maryland10 Years$5,000Felony
Massachusetts2.5 Years$1,000Felony
Michigan4 Years$2,000Felony
Minnesota5 Years$10,000Felony
Mississippi6 Months$1,000Misdemeanor
Missouri4 Years$5,000Felony
Montana5 Years$50,000Felony
Nebraska3 Years$10,000Felony
Nevada4 Years$5,000Felony
New Hampshire7 Years$4,000Felony
New Jersey18 Months$10,000Felony
New Mexico18 Months$5,000Felony
New York7 Years$5,000Felony
North Carolina20 Months$10,000Felony
North Dakota5 Years$10,000Felony
Ohio5 Years$10,000Felony
Oklahoma10 Years$5,000Felony
Oregon5 Years$125,000Felony
Pennsylvania2 Years$10,000Misdemeanor
Rhode Island5 Years$10,000Felony
South Carolina5 Years$5,000Felony
South Dakota10 Years$20,000Felony
Tennessee11 Months$2,500Misdemeanor
Texas10 Years$10,000Felony
Utah5 Years$5,000Felony
Vermont5 Years$10,000Felony
Virginia1 Year$2,500Misdemeanor
Washington5 Years$10,000Felony
West Virginia5 Years$2,500Felony
Wisconsin3.5 Years$10,000Felony
Wyoming5 Years$10,000Felony

Defenses To Fourth-Degree Assault Charges

The three main defenses against a 4th-degree assault charge are:

  • self-defense
  • lack of intent
  • mistake of facts


You can use self-defense against 4th-degree assault charges.

It requires proving that the force used was necessary to prevent imminent harm.

Self-defense is a legal justification for the use of force in response to a perceived threat of harm.

A person must be able to prove that the force used was necessary to prevent the threat of harm.

And that the force used was proportional to the threat.

To do this, the defendant must provide evidence that the threat was real and imminent.

And that the level of force used was necessary to prevent the threat from occurring.

Additionally, a defendant must not have been the aggressor in the situation.

And must have been engaging in lawful activities at the time of the incident.

Proving these elements of self-defense can be difficult against an alleged victim.

But if done successfully, a defendant can get acquitted of 4th-degree assault charges.

Lack Of Intent

Your criminal defense attorney can use a lack of intent against your charges.

Lack of intent means you didn’t mean to hurt someone.

Your assault attorney has to prove that:

  • you did not plan to hurt someone
  • you did not act with the intention of doing bodily harm
  • your actions were not committed in a reckless or careless manner

Mistake Of Facts

This is when your criminal defense attorney proves you didn’t commit the crime.

This may be getting your charges dropped due to a lack of evidence.

Or having a jury trial that can’t make a decision based on the evidence.

You have to prove that you had an honest and reasonable belief that you were in danger.

Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer

Fill out the form below if you’re facing a 4th-degree assault conviction.

Our criminal defense attorneys have the experience you need to defend your rights.

This way, you don’t:

  • get wrongfully convicted
  • spend years in jail needlessly
  • get wrongfully accused by police officers

You’re a reasonable person and you deserve a fair trial in the criminal justice system.

We can provide you with that.

Talk soon.

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