Assault Lawyer St. Louis: Fighting Your Assault Charges in Missouri

Professional Legal Defense From a St. Louis Assault Lawyer


Assault charges in Missouri are not limited to physical violence; they also include threats and any behavior that could be seen as dangerous by others. These charges are serious and can drastically change a person’s life if they lead to a conviction.

Individuals interested in this topic are likely concerned about the legal repercussions of such charges and the impact on their future. Understanding what constitutes assault and the consequences it carries is crucial for anyone facing these allegations or for those supporting someone in such a situation.

At The Law Offices of Brian J. Cooke in St. Louis, we understand the complexities of assault cases. Our legal team works diligently to navigate the Missouri legal system, leveraging our thorough understanding of local laws to advocate for our clients. We ensure that every client’s perspective is accurately and effectively represented, upholding justice and meticulousness in every case we handle.


What Constitutes Assault in Missouri?


In Missouri, assault offenses are classified into four degrees, each defined by specific criteria set out in state statutes:

First-Degree Assault (Section 565.050, RSMo):

A person commits first-degree assault if they attempt to kill another person with deliberation or knowingly cause or attempt to cause serious physical injury to another person. This offense is classified as a felony.

Second-Degree Assault (Section 565.052, RSMo):

A person commits second-degree assault if they:

  • Attempt to cause or knowingly cause physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.
  • Recklessly cause serious physical injury to another person.
  • Operate a vehicle while intoxicated, which results in injury due to their criminal negligence.
  • This charge is typically a felony.

Third-Degree Assault (Section 565.054, RSMo):

A person commits third-degree assault if they:

  • Recklessly cause physical injury to another person.
  • With criminal negligence, cause physical injury to another person by means of a firearm.
  • Purposely place another person in apprehension of immediate physical injury.
  • Recklessly engage in conduct that creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another person.
  • Knowingly cause physical contact with another person knowing the other person will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.
  • While generally charged as a misdemeanor, certain conditions such as the victim being a law enforcement officer or other special victims can elevate it to a felony.

Fourth-Degree Assault (Section 565.056, RSMo):

A person commits fourth-degree assault if they:

  • Attempt to cause or recklessly cause physical injury, physical pain, or illness to another person.
  • With criminal negligence, cause physical injury to another person by means of any method, not just a firearm.
  • Purposely place another person in apprehension of immediate physical injury.
  • Purposely cause physical contact with another person knowing they will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.
  • This offense is typically considered a misdemeanor.

General Considerations:

Each degree of assault in Missouri is defined by the intent, means, and outcomes, with escalating seriousness from the fourth degree up to the first degree. The involvement of weapons, the severity of the injury, and the circumstances, such as victims being law enforcement officers or other special victims, can affect the exact charges and penalties.

In Missouri, an assault conviction can profoundly impact one’s life, stressing the importance of understanding these laws. Becoming familiar with Missouri’s statute on assault can clarify the distinction between a heated argument and an act that crosses into criminal territory.

Practice Areas

Assault Charges

Drug Charges

Fraud Charges

Weapons Offenses

Sex Offenses

Murder Charges

Juvenile Offenses

Stealing Charges

Probation Violations

Traffic Tickets

Domestic Violence

DWI Charges

Defending Against Assault Charges in St. Louis


Faced with the intricate dance of the legal system, it’s essential to understand the mechanisms of defense available. In the realm of criminal defense, plea bargains are among the tools that can steer the case’s direction. We recognize that every case entails unique facts and circumstances, which demand unwavering attention to detail.

Self-defense, defense of others, and claiming accidental harm represent common legal defenses against assault charges. We scrutinize every element, from the actions leading up to the incident to the intent—or lack thereof—behind them. Such an approach is paramount in formulating an effective defense.

Collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses, and examining the scene are all critical steps we undertake to dismantle the prosecution’s claims. Our strategy involves leveraging key types of plea bargains in criminal defense to potentially reduce charges or sentences when appropriate.

At The Law Offices of Brian J. Cooke, we construct a comprehensive defense strategy tailored to the specifics of your case. We present the evidence coherently and compellingly, always aiming to uphold the scales of justice in your favor. The stakes are high, and the navigation through legal defenses is complex, but with steadfast legal representation from a St. Louis criminal defense attorney, the burden can be lessened.

How Our St. Louis Assault Lawyers Can Help


If you’re dealing with unfair accusations or struggling with legal terms, we can help. Our team of St. Louis assault lawyers knows how disruptive an assault charge can be. We’re ready to break down your case’s complexities and build a defense that fits your situation.

Here are the legal services we offer:

  • Case review: We carefully examine the evidence to understand what works for and against you. Our goal is to create a defense strategy that suits your story.
  • Negotiation skills: Many cases can be resolved without going to trial. Our lawyers are skilled negotiators who can potentially reduce serious charges to lesser ones, safeguarding your future.
  • Trial preparation: If your case does go to trial, we’re fully prepared. Every detail of your testimony and evidence is analyzed to ensure accuracy.
  • Favorable outcomes: We take pride in helping clients avoid severe penalties, sometimes securing probation instead of prison sentences.

We’re here to guide you through the legal process and work towards the best possible outcome for your case.


Contact The Law Offices of Brian J. Cooke Today


Facing an assault charge can be overwhelming, with potential consequences for your freedom and reputation. Our legal team is dedicated to standing by you during this challenging time, offering robust defense strategies to safeguard your rights. We understand the gravity of the situation and work tirelessly to ensure that your voice is heard and your rights are vigorously defended against prosecution claims.

If you’re facing an assault charge, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Our initial consultation is free, providing you with the opportunity to discuss your case and take the first step towards reclaiming your peace of mind. Contact us today for more information or to get started on building a strong defense.


Can you still own a gun with an assault charge?
It depends on whether the assault charge is a misdemeanor or a felony and whether or not you receive a felony conviction. A misdemeanor assault charge will not result in the loss of your right to own a firearm. A felony conviction for assault, however, will result in you losing your right to own a firearm. If you receive an SIS probation (suspended imposition of sentence), you are not allowed to possess a firearm while on probation; however, once your probation is complete, your may legally own a firearm. With respect to domestic assault charges, even a misdemeanor domestic assault conviction can result in the loss of your right to own a firearm.
Does it matter who started the fight?
Under Missouri Self-Defense Law, you have the right to use reasonable force to defend yourself. However, an initial aggressor may not claim self-defense. An initial aggressor is defined as the person who attacked first or threatened to attack first. If you were the initial aggressor, you can only regain your right to self-defense if you have withdrawn from the encounter and effectively communicated such withdrawal to such other person but the latter persists in continuing the incident by the use or threatened use of unlawful force.
What if a weapon was involved in the assault?
In Missouri, if an assault was committed with a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, you can also be charged with armed criminal action. Examples of a deadly weapon include a gun or a knife. A dangerous instrument is defined as “any instrument, article or substance, which, under the circumstances in which it is used, is readily capable of causing death or other serious physical injury”. Examples of a dangerous instrument include: a car, a baseball bat, a brick. Armed criminal action carries a mandatory minimum sentence of three years which must be run consecutive to any sentence on a related assault charge.
Is it possible to get an assault charge reduced?
Yes. For instance, Assault 1st degree may be reduced to Assault 2nd degree if the assault occurred under “sudden passion arising out of adequate cause”. Sudden passion means, “passion directly caused by and arising out of provocation by the victim or another acting with the victim which passion arises at the time of the offense and is not solely the result of former provocation? Adequate cause means, “cause that would reasonably produce a degree of passion in a person of ordinary temperament sufficient to substantially impair an ordinary person’s capacity for self-control”.
What it is the difference between Serious Physical Injury and Physical injury?
Serious physical injury is defined as “physical injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes serious disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any part of the body”. Physical injury is defined as “slight impairment of any function of the body or temporary loss of use of any part of the body”.
Can I still get a Nursing, Real Estate, or other professional license in Missouri with an Assault Conviction?
It depends. Generally, a felony conviction for assault will disqualify you from obtaining a certain professional licenses. A misdemeanor conviction for assault is a something that will be considered but is not necessarily an automatic bar to professional licensure. Generally, the severity of the offense, the amount of time since the incident, and your conduct after the offense will be considered by the licensing board.
Can an Assault conviction be Expunged in Missouri?
Only misdemeanor Assault convictions can be expunged in Missouri. Felony Assault convictions cannot be expunged.
Can an Assault charge be enhanced if you have prior convictions for assault?
Yes. A prior assault offender is a person who has been found guilty of one assault offense, where such prior offense occurred within five years of the occurrence of the assault offense for which the person is charged. A prior offender shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment one class higher. A persistent assault offender is, a person who has been found guilty of two or more assault offenses, where such two or more offenses occurred within ten years of the occurrence of the assault offense for which the person is charged. A persistent assault offender shall be sentenced two classes higher. Neither a prior or persistent assault offender may receive a suspended imposition of sentence and will not be eligible for probation and parole unless such person has served a minimum six month’s imprisonment.