Any kind of physical aggression, also called assault (Title 18, Chapter 27 http://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/LI/CT/HTM/18/00.027..HTM), against another person is considered to be a criminal act under Pennsylvania criminal law. There are different degrees of these kinds of physical aggressions that result in different levels of penalties. Below is an outline of these different Pennsylvania laws, their penalties, and possible defenses to these charges. You can also contact an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer to help you through the process.
Simple assault is defined as intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly inflicting or attempting bodily injury on another, or putting them in fear of bodily injury. It also includes negligently causing bodily harm to someone else with a deadly weapon, such as a gun or a knife.
Each one of these elements has to be proven in court. This means that a strong defense can show that you did not intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly harm someone else. A strong defense can also show that there was no harm inflicted or that no fear of harm resulted from your actions.
Simple assault is a misdemeanor, which is why it is also sometimes referred to as “misdemeanor assault.” In general, it is a second degree misdemeanor meaning up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $5000. If the assault occurred in a fight entered into by mutual consent, it is a third degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2500. Finally, if the assault is on someone under the age of 12, by someone over the age of 21, it is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Aggravated assault is also called “felony assault,” because it is punishable by a felony. Aggravated assault includes:
- Attempting to or inflicting serious bodily injury on another person
- Assaulting someone with a deadly weapon
- Assaulting certain protected public officials or employees
The assault must have been done intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly. Serious bodily injury means permanent dismemberment or disfigurement or causing a substantial risk of death.
If the assault does not involve serious bodily injury, it is a second degree felony, punishable by up to ten years in jail and/or a fine of up to $25,000.
If the assault does involve bodily injury or an attempt, it is a first degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in jail and/or a fine of up to $25,000.
These are extremely steep penalties, so if you have been charged with assault, contact a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney right away who can help you defend your rights in court.