Being convicted of a crime is often thought of as the worst-case scenario in a criminal trial. While nobody wants to be convicted of a crime, your opportunity to fight your case is not over after a conviction. Assault charges can carry some very harsh penalties, but first-time offenders might be able to negotiate for more lenient sentences.
The penalties for assault for a person with or without a criminal history are the same. The law applies the same to everyone, no matter what. For this reason, you must make yourself aware of the standard penalties for assault as they could apply in your case. However, if you are a first-time offender, you can try to argue for less restrictive sentencing like shorter prison time or probation.
Our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers can help you make the best case possible for the least restrictive sentence. Call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 for a free initial case evaluation today.
Standard Penalties for Assault in Pennsylvania with No Criminal Record
Assault is very broadly grouped into two categories: simple and aggravated assault. Simple assault is less serious and punished less harshly. It consists of any attempt to intentionally or negligently cause bodily harm and any attempt to put someone in fear of bodily harm by physical menace. Simple assault may be charged as a third, second, or first-degree misdemeanor.
Aggravated assault is far more serious, and the penalties are more severe. It encompasses more severe bodily harm, the use of a weapon, or assault against specific groups of people, like law enforcement, teachers, or government officials. Depending on the circumstances of your case, aggravated assault may be charged as a first- or second-degree felony.
The penalties for third-, second-, and first-degree misdemeanors include maximum jail terms of 1, 2, and 5 years, respectively. For second and first-degree felonies, you could go to state prison for up to 10 or 20 years. While these terms represent sentence maximums, you can negotiate for shorter sentences within the appropriate sentencing guidelines. Talk to our Bucks County criminal defense lawyers for more about the sentencing guidelines for assault and how they apply in your case.
Penalties for Assault with a Clean Record in Pennsylvania
After a conviction, you will be sentenced according to relevant sentencing guidelines. These guidelines allow judges to apply numerous considerations to the standard assault penalties mentioned previously. One such consideration is your criminal record. Defendants with extensive criminal histories are likely to be sentenced more harshly than first-time offenders.
Your clean criminal record must be presented at your sentencing hearing. Judges are more likely to exercise leniency if they know the defendant has never committed a crime before. However, the judge must stay within the appropriate guidelines. This means that no matter how badly the judge feels for you, they typically cannot go outside the minimum sentence possible. While certain extraordinary circumstances sometimes allow judges to impose sentences outside their guidelines, having a clean criminal record might not be one of those circumstances.
Perhaps the best use of your first-time offender status is to pair it with other mitigating factors. For example, suppose the judge knows that you are a first-time offender and also sees you are extremely remorseful and have cooperated throughout the criminal justice process. In that case, you have a much better chance of being sentenced on the lower end of the guidelines for assault. Our Delaware County criminal defense attorneys can help you.
Probation for Assault Defendants with No Criminal Record in Pennsylvania
Probation might be available in your case. Again, the specifics of your sentence and whether probation is on the table will depend on your unique circumstances. However, if probation is indeed a possibility, you have a better chance of persuading a judge as a first-time offender.
As a first-time offender, we can argue that you are not a danger to your community or the alleged victim, and that you would benefit from serving your sentence from home rather than prison or jail. We must also argue that you are willing and capable of adhering to the terms and conditions of your probation as set by the court.
Even as a first-time offender, you are not guaranteed probation. However, it will be much easier to advocate for probation with our Pennsylvania criminal defense attorneys by your side.
Sentencing for an Assault Conviction with No Criminal History in Pennsylvania
Sentencing occurs after a conviction. Remember, just because a jury reached a verdict against you does not mean your fight is over. Sentencing is not automatic and must be argued, thought through, and given deep consideration by all parties involved. As such, you and your attorney are allowed to make all kinds of arguments regarding sentencing. Our Pennsylvania criminal defense attorneys can help you argue for the lowest sentence possible.
At sentencing, the judge can consider various aggravating and mitigating factors. It was mentioned previously that mitigating factors like your remorse, cooperation, and a clean criminal record can weigh in your favor at sentencing. However, negative factors like the violence of the alleged crime and the presence of any weapons might weigh against you.
These factors are considered very carefully and will help determine your overall sentence. For example, the severity of your crime will be used to calculate an offense gravity score. The higher your score, the greater your penalties. Our Montgomery County criminal defense attorneys can help you emphasize your clean criminal record and various other mitigating factors.
Speak to Our Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you or someone you know has been charged with assault or a similar offense, call our Pennsylvania criminal defense attorneys for help immediately. If you are a first-time offender, we can help you argue for a more lenient sentence. Call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 for a free case review today.