Under Pennsylvania criminal laws, assault is defined as “intentionally or knowingly causes bodily harm to another, or attempts to do so putting another in fear of injury”. This definition can be interpreted broadly by the police and the district attorneys. An experienced defense lawyer may be able to dispute the appropriateness of these charges in some circumstances.
Any criminal charge is a serious legal matter, and can have serious life consequences that affect your future. Always consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney such as myself, to make sure you rights are fully protected, and to find out what legal defenses you may have.
Pennsylvania Assault Laws & Penalties
- It is a Misdemeanor 1 (first degree) if you are charged with an assault on a child under 12.
- It is a Misdemeanor 2 (second degree) in most cases.
- It is a Misdemeanor 3 (third degree) if it is a “mutual consent” assault, for example, a fight in which both parties are equal participants.
Aggravated Assault is a Felony charge.
Aggravated Assault is a first degree felony (Felony 1) if serious bodily injury results, with “extreme indifference to human life”.
It is a second degree felony if any “deadly weapon” is used, causing bodily injury.
Many things can be classified as a deadly or dangerous weapon, including a knife, bat or blunt instrument or nearly any object, or a car or vehicle.
You can also face enhanced penalties if your charge is considered a domestic assault.
How to Defend an Assault Charge in Pennsylvania
There are often a variety of different defense tactics to choose from in fighting an assault charge. It greatly depends on the facts of the case, but we can and will frequently argue that the charge does not fit the circumstances, and are not appropriate under the statute. These cases can be hard to prove if they depend on the reliability of witnesses.
We may be able to negotiate many assault charges away in exchange for anger management counseling if I get can on the case at the preliminary hearing.
An experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney must be strong negotiator and understand what the DAs are looking for. We can frequently work to knock the charges down, such as from a felony aggravated assault charge to simple assault, if possible, or certainly see if they will charge a lesser degree offense.
Call for a free consultation if you’ve been arrested or accused of assault or aggravated assault anywhere Pennsylvania.