Assault is a type of violent criminal offense in PA that can carry harsh consequences. There are several types of assault charges, each with its own penalties. If you hope to escape the devastating impact of a conviction, you must be proactive with your defense.
Make sure you have an assault defense lawyer by your side who will analyze the assault charges against you to determine which options are most likely to result in a favorable outcome.
Types of Assault Charges in PA
There are multiple types of assault charges in Pennsylvania. This is a wobbler offense, which means you could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony based on the specific circumstances of your case.
Generally, if aggravating factors are present, felony charges are more likely. If there are mitigating factors present, your attorney may be able to get your assault charges reduced to the misdemeanor level.
Under 18 PA C.S.A. 2701, you can be charged with simple assault anytime you are accused of intentionally attempting to cause or causing someone else bodily harm. Simple assault can also be reckless, which means that you knew or should have known that your actions were going to cause harm.
This does not mean the alleged victim must suffer injuries for simple assault charges to apply. The attempt to cause physical bodily injury is enough for simple assault charges to apply.
First-Degree Misdemeanor Assault
The most severe type of simple assault is first-degree misdemeanor simple assault. You can be charged with first-degree simple assault any time you are over 21 years of age, and the alleged victim in your case is under the age of 12.
If convicted, you could expect to spend as much as five years in a Pennsylvania county jail and to pay fines not to exceed $10,000. You may also face other court-ordered sentences, such as anger management, mental health counseling, community service, and more.
Second-Degree Misdemeanor Assault
You could face second-degree misdemeanor simple assault charges as well. This is not as serious as a first-degree misdemeanor as well as being far less severe than felony-level charges. If the court finds you guilty of a second-degree misdemeanor simple assault offense, you might face considerable fines of as much as $5,000 and spend as much as two years in a Pennsylvania county jail.
Third-Degree Misdemeanor Assault
Third-degree misdemeanor simple assault is the least severe type of assault offense. However, that does not mean you will avoid criminal penalties. You could be sentenced to up to 365 days in a Pennsylvania county jail and pay fines of up to $2,500.
Although simple assault is not a felony, the PA criminal courts generally try aggravated assault charges at the felony level. You can face aggravated assault charges for:
- Attempting to, recklessly, or intentionally causing severe bodily injury to a public servant or police officer
- Intentionally causing or trying to cause severe physical harm to anyone
- Intentionally causing or attempting to cause severe bodily injury with a deadly weapon
- Causing severe bodily injury to a minor under the age of six
- Causing severe bodily injury to a school employee or teacher
- Causing serious bodily injury to a child less than 13 years of age, by a person 18 years of age or older.
When an assault on specific types of public servants, including district attorneys, police officers, public defenders, and firefighters, occurs, aggravated assault charges will almost certainly apply.
First-Degree Felony Assault
Aggravated assault will generally be charged as a first-degree felony, depending on how the assault occurred and whether a deadly weapon was involved. Anyone convicted of first-degree aggravated assault could expect to spend up to 20 years in a Pennsylvania state prison and pay fines not to exceed $25,000.
There may be additional stipulations as part of your sentencing, such as completing any court-ordered programs and collateral consequences.
Second-Degree Felony Assault
Criminal courts in Pennsylvania will often charge aggravated assault at the second-degree felony level. This is a more severe offense than a misdemeanor simple assault charge but less serious than a first-degree felony aggravated assault offense.
Anyone convicted at the second-degree level could spend up to 10 years in a Pennsylvania state prison and pay fines not to exceed $25,000.
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How to Challenge Assault Charges in Pennsylvania?
It has never been more important to take charge of your defense when the police arrest you on an assault offense in Pennsylvania. Whether you are facing a simple assault or aggravated assault charge at the misdemeanor or felony level, the consequences of a conviction will be long-lasting.
Your criminal defense lawyer could use several potential defenses to defend you at trial. One of the top defenses is self-defense. However, your criminal defense attorney will need to be able to show that you had reasonable belief that you or someone else was at risk of severe bodily injury or death and that you only used the necessary amount of force to stop the threat.
Conversely, we may be able to get you enrolled in a pretrial diversion program which could result in the reduction or dismissal of the charges against you upon completion of the program requirements.
Call a PA Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help
Assault may have a reputation for being a minor offense, but the penalties of a conviction could permanently alter the course of your life.
Are you ready to start preparing your defense? Reach out to a Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, LLC, to find out your next steps. Schedule your no-obligation consultation today by completing our convenient contact form or calling our office.