People often mistakenly lump together various violent offenses as assault. While assault is a violent offense, specific categories of assault come with different penalties and sentencing requirements.
Assault is broken down into two broad categories: simple and aggravated assault. Simple assault is a relatively minor offense compared to the much more severe aggravated assault. While simple assault is generally graded as a misdemeanor offense, aggravated assault is often charged as a very serious felony. As such, the penalties for aggravated assault tend to be much greater than those for simple assault. On top of that, defendants facing assault charges must be aware of Pennsylvania’s 3-Strikes Laws, which impose greater mandatory minimum sentences for defendants convicted of a subsequent violent offense.
If you are currently facing charges for assault or a similar violent offense, you might be in very serious trouble. Our Philadelphia criminal assault defense lawyers can help you defend yourself and protect your rights. For a free case review, call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long (215) 302-0171.
Different Assault Charges in Pennsylvania
As mentioned before, assault is divided into two broad subcategories. Aggravated assault is a serious felony and might involve acts of extreme violence or assault with a weapon or firearm. Simple assault is a comparatively lesser offense that is usually charged as a misdemeanor. Our Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys can help you determine exactly what kind of charges you might face and how to handle them.
The crime of simple assault can be found under 18 Pa.C.S. § 2701. Under the law, a person may be charged with simple assault in one of several ways. First, the defendant might be charged for knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly causing or attempting to cause bodily harm. This is a somewhat broad definition of simple assault and might encompass numerous alleged acts of violence.
Second, a person might be charged for negligently causing bodily harm with a deadly weapon. For example, accidentally shooting someone with a firearm because you forgot to engage the safety switch on the gun might be considered an act of simple assault.
Third, you might face simple assault charges for attempting by physical menace to threaten or intimidate someone and place them in fear of serious bodily harm. This might not necessarily involve actual acts of violence but threats of intimidation tactics.
Finally, simple assault charges might be assessed if you concealed a hypodermic needle on your person and intentionally or knowingly pricked a law enforcement officer during an arrest or search. This is a more specific instance of simple assault that only applies in instances where a person is being searched or arrested. You can call our Bucks County criminal defense lawyers for help in any of the circumstances mentioned above.
Simple assault is typically graded as a second-degree misdemeanor unless other certain factors are present. The defendant might be charged with a third-degree misdemeanor if the assault happened in a fight entered into by mutual consent. If the alleged assault was committed against a child under 12 by a person at least 18, it might be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor. Aggravated Assault
Charges for aggravated assault are listed under 18 Pa.C.S. § 2702(a). This charge is far more serious than simple assault charges and is often charged as a felony. There are various circumstances under which a person might be charged, and our Montgomery County criminal defense attorneys can help you.
Aggravated assault charges may be assessed in many similar circumstances as simple assault if the alleged harm is more serious. While simple assault tends to involve bodily harm, aggravated assault involves serious bodily harm, and alleged victims often claim greater injuries.
Aggravated assault may also be charged if the target of the violence is a police officer, firefighter, corrections officer, or other certain government officials and officers. Similarly, aggravated assault charges may be assessed in cases where teachers or school employees are hurt.
Additionally, charges can apply in cases of assaults involving deadly weapons or firearms where the assault is done intentionally or knowingly. Aggravated assault charges may also apply if an adult injures a child younger than 6 or intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly injures a child younger than 13.
Depending on the circumstances, aggravated assault may be charged as a first-degree or second-degree felony.
Penalties and Sentencing for Assault Charges in Pennsylvania
Simple assault is usually charged as a misdemeanor, and misdemeanor penalties can be found under 18 Pa.C.S. § 1104. A first-degree misdemeanor, just one step below a felony, may be penalized by up to 5 years in jail. A second-degree misdemeanor may be punishable by up to 2 years in jail, and a third-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to 1 year in jail.
Aggravated assault charges are felonies and carry much harsher penalties under 18 Pa.C.S. § 1103. A first-degree felony is perhaps the highest charge a person may face and is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. A second-degree felony conviction might see the defendant placed in prison for up to 10 years. Our Delaware County criminal defense attorneys can help you determine the best way to fight these penalties.
You must also be aware of Pennsylvania’s 3-Strikes Laws. Under 42 Pa.C.S. § 9714(a), defendants charged with violent crimes face increasing mandatory minimum penalties for each subsequent offense. If you are convicted of your second violent crime, you may face at least 10 years in prison. If you are convicted of a third violent offense, you face at least 25 years behind bars. These mandatory minimum sentences apply even if your second or third offense is a simple assault conviction that would ordinarily carry a much shorter punishment.
Call Our Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Lawyers for a Free Case Assessment
If you are facing charges for simple or aggravated assault, you should contact our Northeast Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers for help as soon as possible. For a free review of your case, call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long (215) 302-0171.