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What is the Main Difference Between Simple and Aggravated Assault in Philadelphia?

Crimes of assault involve causing some physical or bodily harm to another person. These kinds of offenses are often met with swift legal consequences due to their violent nature. However, there is not a single assault charge. Instead, assault is more like an umbrella term for different types of violent crimes. Generally, the assault will be charged as either simple or aggravated.

Simple and aggravated assault may sound similar, but they are very different crimes in Philadelphia. Simple assault is a relatively minor offense that involves causing less serious bodily harm. Simple assault is often charged as a misdemeanor. Aggravated assault, on the other hand, is incredibly serious. The bodily harm involved in aggravated assault is often very severe and the crime is usually charged as a felony.

If you have been charged with simple or aggravated assault in Philadelphia, you may be facing severe penalties. Aggravated assault may land you in prison for years, while simple assault could result in time in jail. Call our Philadelphia assault defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171.

Elements of Simple Assault and Aggravated Assault in Philadelphia

Simple assault and aggravated assault both seem very similar to begin with. Both crimes involve causing bodily harm to another person. However, the level of intent required of the defendant, and the extent of the harm caused to the victim, will determine if the assault is simple or aggravated.

Simple assault involves intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily harm to another person, or at least attempting to do so. Simple assault may also encompass negligently causing bodily harm if a deadly weapon is used. The key aspect of simple assault is that the harm to the victim is not serious. Think of simple assault as pushing someone to the ground during an argument. While you technically caused bodily harm to the victim, the harm is likely not serious.

Aggravated assault is different from simple assault because the harm is often severe and the method of causing the harm is more outrageous. For aggravated assault, the bodily harm is more serious, and the defendant must have acted in a way that demonstrated indifference to the value of human life. In this way, aggravated assault is based on the seriousness of the victim’s injuries as well as the depravity of the defendant.

In many cases, prosecutors will attempt to charge a defendant with aggravated assault when they know that those charges are unlikely to stick. As the case goes on and more evidence comes to light, they will reduce the charges to more reasonable simple assault charges. If you believe you have been overcharged and unfairly face aggravated assault penalties, call our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers for help.

Different Penalties for Simple Assault and Aggravated Assault in Philadelphia

Simple and aggravated assault charges come with very different penalties. While simple assault charges are often misdemeanors, aggravated assault charges are usually serious felonies. The difference in these charges means the penalties will differ significantly, with aggravated assault charges facing much harsher penalties than simple assault.

Simple assault will usually be charged as a second-degree misdemeanor. However, these charges may be downgraded to a third-degree misdemeanor if the assault occurred in a fight in which both parties mutually entered. These charges can also be upgraded to a first-degree misdemeanor if the victim was 12 years old or younger and the defendant is at least 18.

If simple assault is charged as a third-degree misdemeanor, the defendant may face no more than 1 year in jail. If the offense is charged as a second-degree misdemeanor, the defendant may face up to 2 years in jail. For first-degree misdemeanors, the defendant may be penalized with up to 5 years in jail.

Aggravated assault may be charged as either a first-degree or second-degree felony, depending on the circumstances. If your aggravated assault charges are second-degree felonies, you may be facing up to 10 years in prison. If your charges are for a first-degree felony, you may be punished by up to 20 years in prison. If you have been charged with any assault offenses, please immediately reach out to our Philadelphia assault defense lawyers.

Circumstances Commonly Associated with Simple Assault in Philadelphia

Different situations are more often associated with different levels of assault. If you are unsure about how you will be charged, it may be helpful to discuss the circumstances of the alleged assault with our Philadelphia assault defense lawyers. We can help you understand your charges and the potential penalties that lie ahead.

For simple assault, the harm to the victim is often less serious and may result from heated arguments or fights. Situations like barroom brawls and scuffles may lead to simple assault charges. In many of these fight scenarios, both the victim and the defendant may have entered the fight willingly. If a deadly weapon is used in a simple assault case, it was likely used in a negligent way, and the defendant likely did not intend any harm.

Conditions That Often Lead to Aggravated Assault Charges in Philadelphia

Aggravated assault, however, is far more serious and often results from more severe situations. Fights with deadly weapons often lead to aggravated assault charges. Also, aggravated assault may arise from some activity that is so incredibly dangerous that the defendant clearly does not care for the safety or lives of others.

Aggravated assault may also arise when the victim is a specific type of person protected by law. For example, peace officers like the police and firefighters and teachers, and other school employees have protected classes of people. If you assault one of these people, your charges may be upgraded to aggravated assault.

Aggravated assault charges may arise when a person is already being arrested by the police, but fights back and ends up injuring an officer. Similarly, assaulting a firefighter while they are trying to put out a fire will result in aggravated assault charges.

Call our Philadelphia defense attorney to discuss your case and figure out how to move forward.

Call Our Philadelphia Assault Defense Attorneys for Help

If you have been charged with simple or aggravated assault in Philadelphia, please call our northeast Philadelphia criminal lawyers. We can help you fight your charges and protect your rights. Call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 to schedule a consultation.