Being arrested and facing assault charges can be a stressful experience. Potential penalties are severe and include jail time, fines, and/or probation. If you or one of your family members has been charged with simple assault, aggravated assault, or other assault-related offenses in Philadelphia, you need a tough criminal defense lawyer to help protect your rights. Our criminal defense team can begin fighting for a favorable outcome in your case immediately. We work to reduce the charges you will actually face, and to minimize the consequences or seek outright dismissal of your case. Call 215-712-1212 for a free consultation.

Definition of Assault in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s criminal statutes differentiate between many types of assault charges and related offenses. Two of the most common are “simple assault” under 18 Pa.C.S. § 2701, and “aggravated assault” under 18 Pa.C.S. § 2702. Together, these two offenses account for most of the assault arrests in Pennsylvania. Other assault charges include:

  • Assault of Law Enforcement Officer – 18 Pa.C.S. § 2702.1
  • Harassment – 18 Pa.C.S. § 2709
  • Recklessly Endangering Another Person (REAP) – 18 Pa.C.S. § 2705
  • Stalking – 18 Pa.C.S. § 2709.1
  • Strangulation – 18 Pa.C.S. § 2718
  • Terroristic Threats – 18 Pa.C.S. § 2706

Under 18 Pa.C.S. § 2701(a), a person may be charged with simple assault in Pennsylvania when he or she:

  • Intentionally or recklessly injures another person, or attempts to do so. Acting “recklessly” means acting with disregard for a serious, unjustified hazard.
  • Negligently (carelessly) injures another person using a deadly weapon, such as a gun.
  • Tries to “put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury” by way of “physical menace.” A “serious bodily injury” is defined under 18 Pa.C.S. § 2301 as any injury that:
    • “[C]reates a substantial risk of death.”
    • “[C]auses serious, permanent disfigurement.”
    • Causes long-term “loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.”

There are many situations under which a person can be charged with aggravated assault in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania’s aggravated assault statute covers any of the following:

  • Intentionally or recklessly causing (or attempting to cause) a serious bodily injury “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.”
  • Intentionally causing (or attempting to cause) injury with a deadly weapon. (If such an act is performed negligently, the offense is simple assault, instead.)
  • Intentionally causing (or attempting to cause) injury to any on-duty:
    • District Attorney
    • Firefighter
    • Judge
    • Parole Officer
    • Police Officer
    • Probation Officer
    • Sheriff

The Criminal Penalties for Assault in Pennsylvania Can Be Severe

Like many states, Pennsylvania separates most criminal offenses into two categories: “misdemeanors” and “felonies.” Both can result in incarceration, fines, restitution, a criminal record, and other severe penalties if you are convicted or plead guilty. Felonies, however, are considered more serious and carry harsher consequences.

Misdemeanors and felonies are each divided into three “degrees.” There are first, second, and third degree felonies as well as first, second, and third degree misdemeanors. The lower the number, the more serious the offense, and the greater the potential penalties.

Sentencing for Simple Assault

Simple assault is generally categorized as a second degree misdemeanor under 18 Pa.C.S. § 2701(b). However, there are two exceptions:

  1. The simple assault is a third degree misdemeanor if the assault involved a “fight or scuffle entered into by mutual consent” – in other words, if two people agreed to fight each other.
  2. The simple assault is a first degree misdemeanor if someone 18 or older assaults a child under the age of 12.

Therefore, depending on the circumstances, simple assault may be prosecuted as a first degree, second degree, or third degree misdemeanor. These classifications are critical for defendants, since they directly impact the resulting penalties. These penalties include:

  • For Third Degree Misdemeanor Simple Assault
    • Sentence – Up to 1 year
    • Criminal Fine – Up to $2,000
  • For Second Degree Misdemeanor Simple Assault
    • Sentence – Up to 2 years
    • Criminal Fine – Up to $5,000
  • For Third Degree Misdemeanor Simple Assault
    • Sentence – Up to 5 years
    • Criminal Fine – Up to $10,000

Sentencing for Aggravated Assault

The penalties for aggravated assault are even higher than the penalties for simple assault. Under 18 Pa.C.S. § 2702(b), aggravated assault may be graded as a first or second degree felony, depending on the circumstances.

Though a first degree felony is the most serious type of crime that a person can be charged with in Pennsylvania, the penalties for aggravated assault in the second degree can also be devastating. Depending on how the offense is graded, aggravated assault penalties in Pennsylvania may include the following:

  • For First Degree Felony Aggravated Assault
    • Sentence – Up to 20 years
    • Criminal Fine – Up to $25,000
  • For Second Degree Felony Aggravated Assault
    • Sentence – Up to 10 years
    • Criminal Fine – Up to $25,000

If you are facing assault charges you need an experienced criminal defense attorney, whether it is simple assault or aggravated assault. Contact Wimmer Criminal Defense or call 215-712-1212 for a free consultation today.

If You Were Arrested for Assault, Call for a Free Consultation

If you or a family member was arrested for assault, it’s critical that you to seek immediate legal assistance. Call today for a free legal consultation.

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