Assault is a broad offense that may be charged in several different ways. Some assault charges are serious felonies that come with lengthy prison sentences, while others are misdemeanors with more lenient punishments.
The potential sentence for an assault conviction will vary based on the specific kind of assault charges a person faces. Simple assault charges are less serious and are often charged as misdemeanors, while aggravated assault is very serious and is a felony. The aggravating and mitigating factors surrounding your case will also influence the sentence for an assault conviction. The more aggravating circumstances in your case, the more likely you will receive a harsher sentence. One method of avoiding a harsher sentence is to take a plea agreement for a lesser charge. While this does not get you out of a punishment, it may reduce the potential sentence in your case.
If you are charged with any assault or assault-related offenses, call our Philadelphia assault defense attorneys as soon as possible. For a free evaluation of your case and charges, call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171.
Sentencing Options for Assault Convictions in Philadelphia
Assault charges may differ depending on how your alleged offense occurred. More serious instances of assault tend to lead to more serious charges with harsher penalties. Simple assault includes threats, negligently causing harm, or an unsuccessful attempt to cause harm may constitute simple assault. Penalties for simple assault tend to be less severe
Aggravated assault is more severe and often involves greater degrees of violence. Assault with weapons or against certain protected groups of people can lead to aggravated assault charges. This form of assault is often charged as a felony and may lead to years behind bars in state prison. Our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers can help you fight these charges and reduce or even avoid criminal penalties.
Charges for simple assault can be found under 18 Pa.C.S. § 2701 and includes the following:
- Intentionally causing or attempting to cause bodily injury to another person,
- Negligently causing harm to another person,
- Using physical menace to threaten or intimidate someone and place them in fear of harm, or
- Concealing a hypodermic needle to intentionally stick a law enforcement officer during an arrest or search.
Simple assault may be graded in several different ways. It is usually a second-degree misdemeanor unless the assault occurred in a fight entered by mutual consent, where it would be a third-degree misdemeanor. If the assault occurred against a child under 12 by an adult, it is a first-degree misdemeanor.
Third-degree misdemeanor charges may be punished by no more than 1 year in jail. For second-degree misdemeanor assault charges, a convicted defendant may face up to 2 years in jail. Finally, for first-degree misdemeanor simple assault charges, a convicted defendant will potentially face up to 5 years in jail.
Aggravated assault is a much more serious form of assault and is often charged as a felony. Felony charges are very severe and carry lengthier prison terms compared to misdemeanors. According to 18 Pa.C.S. § 2702, there are 9 specific ways a person may be charged with aggravated assault. In short, aggravated assault often includes greater degrees of violence, more serious bodily harm, the use of dangerous or deadly weapons, and assaulting protected groups of people like law enforcement.
Depending on the circumstances of the alleged offense, a defendant may be charged with a second- or first-degree felony. A second-degree felony may be punished by no more than 10 years in state prison. A defendant convicted of a first-degree felony – one of the most serious charges possible – may be sentenced to no more than 20 years in prison. If you are charged with any form of aggravated assault, contact our Bucks County criminal defense lawyers immediately.
Aggravating and Mitigating Factors for Assault Sentencing in Philadelphia
Sentencing is determined by multiple factors, not just the degree of your charges. Aggravating factors may make the situation worse for you while mitigating factors might lead a judge to be more lenient. Our Northeast Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers know how to play up your mitigating factors while downplaying any aggravating details.
Aggravating factors are the details of your case that make you look bad to a judge and jury. Sentencing is often based on an indeterminate range, and more aggravating circumstances might push your sentence to the higher end of that range. Common examples of aggravating details include the use of a weapon, lack of remorse, the violent nature of the offense, and the type of victim (e.g., pregnant person, grandparent, child).
Mitigating factors are details that may cause the court to be a bit more understanding of your case. Not every assault case is a heinous crime, and many defendants find themselves in moral and legal grey areas. For example, showing great remorse after the alleged assault, cooperating with law enforcement, and establishing provocation from the victim might lead a judge to impose a shorter sentence.
How a Plea Agreement Affects Your Sentence for an Assault Conviction in Philadelphia
Some defendants have a harder time than others playing up mitigating factors or undermining the prosecutor’s case. These defendants might benefit from a plea deal rather than risk an extremely harsh sentence after a full trial. A plea deal or plea agreement is when the prosecutors agree to reduce the charges in exchange for a guilty plea from the defendant. The defendant waives their right to a trial and moves directly to sentencing.
While a plea deal will not get you out of your charges, it may help you avoid a harsh sentence for an assault case. Instead of being convicted of a more serious charge, you can plead guilty to a lesser charge and receive a lighter sentence. For example, our Delaware County criminal defense attorneys can help you negotiate a plea to deal to reduce a first-degree aggravated assault felony down to a second-degree felony. The difference potentially being 10 fewer years behind bars.
Call Our Philadelphia Assault Defense Attorneys for Help
If you are charged with simple or aggravated assault, our Philadelphia assault defense attorneys can help you understand the potential sentences and explore legal options. For a free case review, call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171.