Pennsylvania Assault Lawyer

The crime of assault as it is defined under Pennsylvania law encompasses a wide range of behaviors. The penalties for those behaviors differ greatly depending on the circumstances involved.

Many people do not realize that they can be found guilty of simple assault against another individual even if they have not harmed or even touched the other individual. The penalty for that “simple” crime can include up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. The penalties for aggravated assault are much more intense serious.

A charge of assault requires decisive action. If you have been charged with assault, consult a Pennsylvania assault lawyer to learn the best course of action to take. Speaking with an experienced criminal lawyer can give you peace of mind when preparing your case for trial.

Simple Assault Offenses

Assault involves inflicting or threatening to inflict “bodily injury” on another individual. Generally, a bodily injury is considered any physical impairment and includes such minor injuries as cuts, bruises, and scratches.

Pennsylvania law specifies a few different situations in which an individual would be considered to have committed a simple assault. These are:

  • Attempting to cause physical injury to another
  • Causing bodily injury to another intentionally
  • Knowingly causing bodily injury even if the injury is not intentional
  • Causing bodily injury to another through reckless behavior
  • Injuring another through negligent use of a deadly weapon
  • Using physical menace to give someone reason to believe they are in imminent danger of bodily harm
  • Concealing a hypodermic needle and using it to stab a law enforcement or correctional officer

Treatment of Simple Assault

Simple assault will be treated as a second-degree misdemeanor unless certain conditions apply. If the assault takes place during a fight entered by mutual consent, then the offense is downgraded to a third-degree misdemeanor. However, if the assault is made by an adult (that is, an individual aged 18 or over) against a child under age 12, the crime becomes a first-degree misdemeanor subject to more severe penalties. It is important to speak with a Pennsylvania assault lawyer who can mitigate these charges on an individual’s behalf.

Defining Aggravated Assault

The penalties continue to escalate when other factors are present, and the charge becomes aggravated assault, which is treated as felony. The added factors that turn one of the above simple assault situations into an aggravated assault are:

  • Acting with exceeding recklessness — that is, in a manner that “demonstrates extreme indifference to the value of human life”
  • The assault is made against a law enforcement official, correctional officer, emergency medical personnel, or other authority figure listed in the statute
  • The assault is made against a teacher or school staff member acting in the course of employment
  • A deadly weapon is used or attempted to be used intentionally or recklessly
  • Using tear gas or noxious gas
  • An adult intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting to cause bodily harm to a child under the age of 13

Imposed Penalties

A wide range of penalties may be imposed in assault cases. Unlike many other states, Pennsylvania allows for prison sentences of over a year for crimes defined as misdemeanors. Someone facing such penalties should speak with Pennsylvania assault lawyers as soon as possible.

Penalties may include up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 for a simple assault that is treated as a second-degree misdemeanor. First-degree assault may be punished by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The penalties for aggravated assault can be as high as 20 years in prison and a fine of $25,000.

Speaking with an Attorney

There are several defenses that can be raised in an assault case, and an attorney with experience handling simple and aggravated assault scenarios will know the best defenses to raise based on the circumstances of your case. A knowledgeable attorney can provide advice as the to the best course of action and stand by as your advocate all throughout the legal process. If you are facing criminal charges involving assault, contact a Pennsylvania assault lawyer today.